Sunday, February 1, 2009

Research tools for collaboration

An article in CIT that discusses the online tools for research collaboration says, "Faculty who find themselves outgrowing the ‘external links’ page on Blackboard, or constantly emailing new websites and/or web articles to your students, might want to take a look at two technologies created specifically for gathering and sharing web resources: Google Reader and Diigo."

However, my experience has been very different. I often use google reader but that is for updates on news and blogs and not for scientific collaboration. I had used Zotero extensively, especially because it can be used as a plug-in in Firefox and it can automatically save the full reference information for the item in the correct fields. Zotero stores the author, title, and other metadata in a publication and I can export it as a formatted reference elsewhere. However, Zotero stores the information on the local computer. Because I use search engines for searching scientific literature extensively from home as well as at work, I had difficulty combining the two.

Then came 2collab, developed by Elsevier. I was involved in it from the initial stages and got it for the IISc library as a developing partner with Elsevier. Unlike Zotero, the bookmarks are stored on the server, which I can access from anywhere. I can now store, categorize, manage and share the bookmarks. I can import bookmarks from Firefox or from any other bookmarking sites like delicious and connotea. More importantly, I do most of my searches from Scopus and I can directly bookmark these. I can export these references in the format I need. I also send or share these bookmarks to various research groups.

I am aware that the number of databases available with 2collab is much smaller (at least for the moment) than that available for its competitor, CiteULike, but because I use scopus extensively, it suits me. Your mileage may vary.

However, for collecting reference data and generating formatted references in a wide variety of styles and putting it in Word etc, I used a free software called Biblioexpress.

1 comment:

Balaji Ramasubramanian said...

Have you tried Mendeley Desktop? You can extract metadata (title, author, journal name etc.) from PDF files of the papers using Mendeley Desktop. I tried this software. But trust me, the only good thing I found in it was metadata extraction for the huge collection of PDF papers that I have. It does about 70-80% of the job well enough. Some papers are hard to extract, especially if you download from But most others were fine. If it is from a well-known journal it is easier for the software to extract metadata.

In addition, Mendeley offers other things such as sharing the database etc. I don't quite like Mendeley's own database. I'd rather that they directly save it in BibTeX format or as EndNote for the MS Office users. I really prefer JabRef or some such native Linux tool for BibTeX. Please do tell me if you think you have a better tool. I have not as yet tried Zotero. Perhaps I should.