Tech-based Tools for Savvy Scientists
As a scientist, you depend on the scholarly work of others to help support your research. The problem is, it’s hard to know which scientific journals—and which papers within those journals—will be most relevant to your research topic.
A scientist from MD Anderson told me that back in the days before PubMed, he and a colleague used to get a weekly print publication called Current Contents—which at the time consisted of the title pages from recent issues of several hundred scientific journals. They would scour the pages of the publication in search of potentially relevant articles and then send out reprint requests to the authors whose papers were of interest. Upon receiving the request, the authors would send them the reprints by mail.
The discovery process was time-consuming and tedious.
Although still available in print format, Current Contents eventually morphed into one of Clarivate Analytics’ online databases. As digital technology progressed, the Current Contents model gave way to online discovery portals such as PubMed, Google Scholar, and Web of Science.
But even now—with all the scholarly search engines out there—researchers still struggle to find those elusive pieces of literature that will be most relevant to their research topic.
Perhaps the biggest challenge is sifting through the millions of articles that are currently available (it’s over 50 million!). But in addition to the sheer volume, there’s also the issue of cost—especially for early-career scientists or individual researchers who may not have institutional access to journal subscriptions. Paying for access to papers that might be relevant is not a cost-effective means for identifying the best content.
Modern Challenges Require Modern Tools
Ready for the good news? New technologies are available to help make it easier for researchers to find the relevant papers they need—faster, and at a reasonable cost.
For example, scientists who used to pore over the pages of Current Contents to see what scholarly literature was available can now subscribe to a journal’s online Table of Contents (TOC) feed.
Altmetric scores, which show trending stats related to a journal article’s online popularity and perception, can also help researchers judge how relevant or useful the paper might be.
Today, new and emerging research retrieval tools can significantly improve the way scientists find and access scientific content. Reprints Desk’s Article Galaxy Widget, for example, is a versatile browser plug-in that works with more than 70 discovery portals (e.g. PubMed, Google Scholar, Web of Science) to inject a browser’s flat search results with added capabilities.
The Article Galaxy Widget provides a simplified workflow experience, where researchers can perform a variety of tasks right from the search results page. For example, it lets researchers extract an unlimited number of citations; see Altmetric scores; check re-use rights; filter for lowest cost acquisition (including Open Access and subscriptions); export citations to a preferred reference manager tool; and instantly buy, access, or rent any paper—all without leaving their workflow.
We have created a handy pocket guide to provide tips and advice on your literature search - download it here.
To take a video tour and learn more about Article Galaxy Widget, visit