According to the Chinese zodiac calendar, 2018 is The Year of the Dog, and philosophers predict the year will be characterized by the universal values of dialogue and solidarity. As normally happens with predictions that get adopted by modern industries, terminology is bandied about. This is especially true for the publishing and information management industries where major trends that emerged in 2017 are already shaping how knowledge will be created, acquired and used in the coming year.
Augmented reality and voice search are just a few of the concepts that are being talked about as game changing. In the scientific, technology and medical markets that Reprints Desk serves, these concepts and many others are changing the way researchers find information and convert it into knowledge. Do dialogue and solidarity mean anything in these industries? We think they do, and these values will shape our approach to customer service in 2018. They are also at the core of our top four predictions for how scientific content and a researcher’s access to it will change is 2018 and beyond:
1. The STM research experience will become exceedingly dynamic
For biomedical researchers, getting a comprehensive summary of relevant literature pertaining to a particular gene or genomic region, for example, is an enormous challenge. With thousands of articles added to search tools like PubMed and MEDLINE every day, narrowing down citations and making decisions about which are the most relevant is a time consuming and costly endeavor. In 2018, technologies that unify and dramatically streamline search results to provide dynamic answers to a researcher’s query (rather than a list of possible answers) will become available. According to the International Association of STM Publishers (STM) this new research experience will rely partly on publishers “combining the digital technology stack, access to open content, research data, and the advanced computational resources to provide real-time analytics to synthesize an answer to questions. The systems will be ‘intelligent’ enough to provide the aggregated knowledge from those relevant resources.”
2. Ultra-personalized research workflows will replace off-the-shelf solutions.
The other part of the dynamic research equation is the new generation of ultra-personalized workflows that began to emerge in 2017. Far more valuable than simply presenting information, personalized access tools place the researcher squarely in the center of the scientific literature ecosystem with tools that make the best of available content by pinpointing what’s important. A number of forward-thinking companies are leading the “user first” charge. HubSpot, for example, is delivering easy-to-navigate content management systems that seek to “delight the customer.” Benchling’s “intelligent software platform” helps life science researchers design and manage workflows across R&D from discovery to bioprocessing. Like these companies and others, Reprints Desk knows that simplifying access to the right scientific literature is key to the individual researcher’s success. Our Article Galaxy Gadgets, for example, are powerful science apps that allow for personalized data augmentation of content. Similar to mobile apps, Gadgets will revolutionize the way research is done today by providing flexible and customizable tools for scientific research, capable of streamlining cumbersome research processes. Reprints Desk will launch a Gadget Store later in 2018 that makes Gadgets publicly available to researchers and scientists.
3. Machine learning and will make the “smart article” a reality – one step at a time.
Another important aspect of the custom workflow will be the “smart article” – that scholarly reference that finds the researcher, not the other way around. Made possible by machine learning and artificial intelligence, the smart article represents an interactive dialogue between machine and researcher resulting in much more precise information that answers specific queries. A precursor to a truly intelligent scholarly research system, Wiley’s Smart Article product for life scientists, for example, is a first step in that direction. The next major breakthrough in intelligent research will come from smart knowledge management technology which will bridge the gap between the data and the specific research problem.
4. Big Data will be downgraded from hurricane status to tropical depression.
Speaking of data, it's predicted that more than 40 Zettabytes (or 40 trillion gigabytes) of digital data will have been generated by 2020. With at least 50 million scholarly journal articles already filling information pipelines, and more than 2.5 million more added each year, researchers can be easily overwhelmed by what data scientists are calling “The Data Deluge.” The worldwide community of publishers, librarians, technology companies and research professionals is clamoring for a better, more cost-effective solution to knowledge management and data analysis. 2018 will be the year where the smartest information management technologists embrace the Year of the Dog — coming together to make big data much more manageable for the researcher. Reprints Desk will take part in this endeavor (see our announcement with RedLink, for example) and continue to work with our partners to harness the potential that big data provides.