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Research Sharing Gets New Tools and Goes Trendy
Posted On September 4, 2008
Last fall I wrote about several social networking/collaboration projects from Elsevier—2collab and Scirus Topic Pages ( The initiatives were designed to support academic library communities and their researchers with advanced "Research 2.0" tools. The resources created social spaces in which researchers could work together. These tools offer platforms for shared knowledge to be leveraged for information discovery and evaluation.

Since then, I’ve seen greatly increased activity in this space, with new initiatives popping up in a number of arenas, many related to scientific collaboration, others to more general research organization and networking. Some of the tools emphasize organizing and managing references—an online extension of a software tool such as EndNote. Others emphasize collaborative knowledge sharing.

Research1 ( is a new service being developed by ResearchChannel, with the support of the National Science Foundation. It is now in private beta testing so I haven’t been able to look at it yet, though there’s a video of developers Andre Tan and Nate McQueen discussing it at Research1 is a web-based collaboration platform that allows researchers to collaborate with peers and share information with the general public. It offers "project hubs," blogs, forums, wikis, messaging, media management features (for audio, video, slideshows), etc. The organizing team says it hopes that it will become "a service that revolutionizes the way researchers, academics, and the general public interact with one another." It is intended to be highly interactive and engaging. Researchers are encouraged to share their content under a Creative Commons license, though they can also choose to allow only colleagues or the media to use their content.

ResearchChannel is a nonprofit media and technology organization that was founded in 1996 by a consortium of research and academic institutions to share the valuable work of their researchers with the public. ResearchChannel, operated at the University of Washington, is now available to more than 30 million U.S. satellite and cable television subscribers and its website is visited by more than 1.6 million visitors each year. The channel is also available on 70 university and school-based cable systems in the U.S. and in other countries.

Labmeeting is a new free service that allows academic scientists to organize their collections of papers by uploading their library of PDFs to a private and secure collection. The PDFs appear inside an embedded Scribd window ( It also provides PubMed search results for papers. Researchers can also connect with others and collaborate with their labs on It is intended for researchers in the biomedical sciences and related spaces. Users must have an academic email address and be a current student, researcher, or professor. Erick Schonfeld interviewed founder Mark Kaganovich for TechCrunch ( and provided some details of the new social network: "Scientists can recommend papers to colleagues, mark them up, create collections, and follow what other scientists are collecting. Each scientist gets a profile page. By interacting through their research, they are more likely to interact with each other. Labmeeting could also form of basis a community ranking system for scientific papers, based on who is reading, writing, and sharing them."

Mendeley ( is Windows/Linux/Mac software for managing and sharing research papers as well as a website for discovering research trends and connecting to like-minded academics. It recently launched into public beta. The site says that privacy is protected and users can select with whom to share their data. The application automatically extracts metadata, full-text, and cited references from PDF files, builds up a personal research library, and offers sophisticated searching, tagging, and filtering functionality. Data from Mendeley Desktop is exchanged with Mendeley Web, the online research network where users can back up and access their library database, discover the most widely read papers in their academic discipline, and connect to like-minded scientists and researchers. The U.K.-based company says it plans to add a recommendation engine.

The sites and services for research sharing do seem to be proliferating at a rapid pace. Here’s a quick review of some of the other ones I’ve been following.

There’s CiteULike (, "a free online service to organise references to academic papers of interest and share them with others." The site is now sponsored by scientific publisher Springer (, so I expect to see additional development of this social bookmarking website for researchers.

I’ve written before about Zotero (, a project from the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. Zotero is a research tool (available as a Firefox extension) that lets users save, organize, annotate, share, and cite posts. An alliance with the Internet Archive ( will help to create the planned Zotero Commons, which will provide social networking and collaboration opportunities.
WizFolio Web 2.0, from a company in Singapore (, offers online journal reference management and sharing of references with colleagues who also have an account. At this point it integrates with PubMed but more sites are planned.

Academici ( offers a technology transfer and knowledge brokering platform, where knowledge can be exchanged and business conducted. It offers both free and premium memberships. is a new research sharing social network and scholar directory for academics, researchers, and graduate students of all disciplines. It is currently in private beta release.

Here are some other community research sharing sites: (From a helpful list posted by blogger Bertalan Meskό:

Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks.

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Comments Add A Comment
Posted By Sandy Lewis11/19/2008 10:21:29 PM

Hi Paula,

Thanks for the references, I have been using WizFolio. They have this new release you might find interesting. After you collected your references, WizFolio searches the publisher's website for the PDF. If it's a free PDF, it will auto-download into your collection. very snappy.
Posted By aaron i10/16/2008 10:58:00 PM

Virtually all of these tools mentioned above can be found in one location - at
Check it out.
Posted By Sandy Lewis9/11/2008 9:51:10 PM

I've been using Zotero to collect my references. It's a great software for that. I hope they make it web-based soon like Endnote Web and WizFolio.

For citing in papers, I've tried Zotero, Endnote and WizFolio. Endnote is a pain. Zotero is ok but I find WizFolio the easiest to use amongst them.
Posted By Alison Collins9/11/2008 3:54:34 AM

Great article. Glad to see all the work done to make researchers' lives easier.

A tool I currently use is WizFolio ( It collects citation data and it's a free web-based tool. So I can access my collections anywhere. It also allows me to share info with my friends.

What I find cool is WizFolio can find the citation info of publications cited within a pdf.

And when I upload a PDF of a publication, it actually finds the bibliographic info automatically. Very amazing
Posted By Fred Howell9/8/2008 7:48:29 AM

Another useful tool for researchers is - you can upload PDFs and Word Docs (and snapshots of web pages) and attach notes and discussions to highlighted text in the browser - useful for discussing papers and drafts online, or building up a tagged index. There's also - a site for making a web page listing your own publications.

Ed. Note: both tools are provided by Textensor Limited, Registered in Scotland. Howell works for Textensor.

Posted By Brian Krueger9/7/2008 8:34:45 PM

Thanks for the link to Labspaces. Here's a little background on the site.

Social networks first began to take off in the late 90ís, but the emergence of Facebook and Myspace in 2004 set a new trend for internet use. Although these sites have their merits, they donít provide an environment conducive to productivity. Labspaces began as my desire to provide a productive social network for science by creating a website to attract a diverse set of researchers for the sole purpose of increasing communicaction and collaboration in the sciences. My previous experience with web design, and being a PhD student in molecular and cellular biology, spurred me to learn how to program a social network from the ground-up using a basic book on PHP and MySQL programming.

Mission is a social network for the scientific community designed to spread scientific news, maintain and create friendships, and harbor collaboration through the internet. The site serves as a web profile for researchers and labs, and is also a community for active communication in the sciences.

Current Features
Labspaces offers a wide range of features that will attract and
engage researchers. Some of these features include:

A Science News feed updated daily with ~40 news articles,
User Profiles, Friends, A Messaging system, Groups, Lab Profiles with Lab members, Lab Picture albums, Collaboration Profiles, Science Discussion Forum, Publication Database, Protocol Database, and free Blogs for each user

Soon to come
Video conferencing and a science content section for powerpoints and posters
Posted By David Loiterstein9/5/2008 4:39:55 PM

Readers may also be interested in learning more about Crossroads: A Community for Students, Teachers and Scholars, now available from Readex.

Library Journal's July issue praised Crossroads, stating "you can bet this resource will wow your academic communities."

A detailed discussion of Crossroads is available in the July issue of the Journal of Electronic Publishing.

Ed. Note: Crossroads launched in Jan. 2008. See:

Posted By Gerry McKiernan9/4/2008 4:37:10 PM


Thanks for your article.

You and your readers may be interested in my on-going effort to identify and document Science and Technology
online (social) networks in my _SciTechNet(sm)_ blog at

[ ]


Gerry McKiernan
Science and Technology Librarian
Iowa State University Library
152 Parks
Ames IA 50011

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