Sunday, 18 December 2016

ScienceOpen: looks promising, but can it help patent and IP search?

Every so often, this weblog likes to take a look at information-related tools that may be of assistance to the intellectual property community. Today we note the ScienceOpen Research + Publishing Network, this being
"... a freely accessible research network to discover and evaluate scientific information. Search among over 27 million articles and article records, filter by citation or Altmetric score, and share your expertise via comments or peer review".
As ScienceOpen puts it, in rather greater detail:
" ... we’ve just upgraded our search and discovery platform to be faster, smarter, and more efficient. A new user interface and filtering capabilities provide a better discovery experience for users. ScienceOpen searches more than 27 million full text open access or article metadata records and puts them in context. We include peer-reviewed academic articles from all fields, including pre-prints that we draw from the arXiv and which are explicitly tagged as such. 
The current scale of academic publishing around the world is enormous. According to a recent STM report, we currently publish around 2.5 million new peer reviewed articles every single year, and that’s just in English language journals. 
The problem with this for researchers and more broadly [including, we imagine, anyone scouring the prior art in order to challenge a patent on grounds of novelty or inventive step] is how to stay up to date with newly published research. And not just in our own fields, but in related fields too. Researchers are permanently inundated, and we need to find a way to sift the wheat from the chaff. 
The solution is smart and enhanced search and discovery. Platforms like ResearchGate and Google Scholar (GS) have just a single layer of discovery, with additional functions such as sorting by date to help narrow things down a bit. GS is the de facto mode of discovery of primary research for most academics, but it also contains a whole slew of ‘grey literature’ (i.e., non-peer reviewed outputs), which often interferes with finding the best research. 
As well as this, if you do a simple search with GS, say just for dinosaurs, you get 161,000 returned results. How on Earth are you supposed to find the most useful and most relevant research based on this if you want to move beyond Google’s page rank, especially if you’re entering this from outside the area of
specialisation? [good question, but for the intellectual property community non-peered material can be of significance, as when discussion arose as to whether material first shown on 2001: a Space Odyssey and Star Trek could be cited as prior art against the Apple iPad: see here and here] Simply narrowing down by dates does very little to prevent being overwhelmed with an absolute deluge of maybe maybe-not relevant literature. We need to do better at research discovery.
ScienceOpen's vast and impressive editorial board is solidly academic, with no names of obvious intellectual property candidates springing out. The advisory board, though much smaller, is more diverse, with representatives from industry as well as academe. 

How successfully might ScienceOpen be used in the IP community? ScienceOpen is not immediately intended as a facility for IP users if the list of tags on its side bar is anything to go by.  These suggest that it is addressed more to those whose interests and expertise lie in the area of pure science and research.  It would however be good to know if any of our readers are already deploying its search capacity. 

We were alerted to this item by beSpacific, which is well worth looking at -- if you have not already done so.

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