Social awareness tools for Science research: Mendeley and SciVee
Tools for social networking and social awareness are developing rapidly and evolving continuously. They are gaining popularity in a growing number of professional as well as personal activities, including scholarly research. There are social awareness tools for science researchers that facilitate collaboration, help manage references, and offer options for presenting findings in new ways.
Social tools can be broken down into two main types: social networking and social awareness. In this paper, we define social networking tools as those that build upon people, and social awareness tools as those that build upon data. Social networking tools allow a user to connect with others and utilize these connections to create networks. Social awareness tools, on the other hand, allow one to see or manipulate data about people, such as co-authorship networks. They allow the researcher to become aware of new social connections through the ability to view and combine data in different ways. These tools, however, are not mutually exclusive. A social tool that combines both social networking and social awareness elements provides a powerful framework for advancing research.
Mendeley is an online service along the lines of Facebook or Flickr designed to help researchers manage and share their PDF files. Public collections share reading lists and associated metadata with the world at large. Smaller shared collections can include the full-text PDF articles. The creators attempted to mimic the music service Last.fm, which allows users to catalog their music, but at the same time anonymously aggregate data about listening preferences. Similarly, Mendeley was designed to create a way to help manage academic papers and anonymously track reading habits to show trends such as popular papers and key researchers within the various communities. By aggregating metadata, tags, and usage, Mendeley hopes to become an alternative to pay-walled databases.
SciVee is a website where researchers, students and educators can upload and share their published scientific articles (including posters and slides) and integrate them into a video called a “PubCast”, which allows authors to discuss and highlight the important points of their published articles (displayed next to the video) while relevant text or figures synchronously appear. The PubCast (essentially a multimedia presentation) is a dynamic form of communication specifically designed to engage its viewer. It gives the researcher higher content information than an abstract, requires just a few minutes to read, and requires much less time than reading a full scientific article, which can take several hours. More importantly, with the PubCast’s design having more visual appeal than an article alone, a greater interest in the article by way of increased views and downloads is generated. As a social awareness tool, SciVee provides the researcher with a multimedia presentation that makes scientific content more accessible, engaging and even more enjoyable, while also providing a quicker means to view the work of other scientists and to form collaborations. From a scientific standpoint, this makes it a considerably more desirable tool than the more mainstream social networking sites such as YouTube. The developers of SciVee predict that today’s generation of graduate and post-doc student scientists will help to incite a “revolution in scientific communication“, …
Tamara M. McMahon; James E. Powell, Matthew Hopkins, Daniel A. Alcazar, Laniece E. Miller and Linn Collins, Ketan K. Mane. Social Awareness Tools for Science Research. D-Lib Magazine, Vol.18, N°3/4, March/April 2012.