These days, getting lots of information is easy; it's using that information productively that's the tricky part. The task is even more difficult when that information comes not from a single information resource, but from several. But for users of Elsevier's various scientific resources, that task just got a little easier thanks to the August 30 release of a unified research platform called SciVerse.
SciVerse lets users blend several Elsevier products and services into a single, unified interface, including ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciTopics, and Scirus. Through a search interface called SciVerse Hub, users can conduct simultaneous searches of their ScienceDirect and Scopus subscriptions, as well as related web content, based on variables such as topical keywords, authors, and publication year. The search functionality also automatically excises duplicate entries and incorporates results from Elsevier's Scirus search engine.
According to vice president of product management Rafael Sidi, SciVerse represents a major shift for the company. "We are going to change from just being a content provider and become an information solution provider," says Sidi.
By combining the information available in Elsevier's various products, Sidi says that the service is able to incorporate additional relevant sources at the level of individual articles. For instance, a researcher reviewing a cancer study in mice can quickly access information about the drugs involved in the study, then view similar studies based on keywords or participating authors. "Enriching the content is very important, and contextual enriching is also key," says Sidi.
In addition to SciVerse Hub's built-in search functionality, Elsevier is also giving users access to modular search applications. Three such applications are available at launch, giving users the ability to ability to focus on the "methods" section of research, view the sentence and context a search result appears in, and view the most prominent authors for a particular search result. Elsevier plans to release the SciVerse APIs to independent researchers, giving them the ability to develop their own search applications and even exchange them with other users. [You can find more information about Elsevier's open API initiative in this article by Jessica Dye in the September issue of EContent.]
Although SciVerse combines the functionality of ScienceDirect and Scopus, Sidi says that the original platforms will continue to be available in their current forms and as individual subscriptions. Access to the SciVerse platform and the SciVerse Hub search interface is being provided free of charge to existing users of ScienceDirect and Scopus. Users without a subscription to a particular service will be unable to receive results from it, however.
While Scopus, ScienceDirect, and Scirus are already available through the SciVerse platform, certain parts of the service are still being developed. For instance, integration with Elsevier's SciTopics research summary service won't be available until 2011, and community application development won't be added until later this year, with e-commerce features for applications following some time in 2011.
According to Sidi, giving users the ability to access contextual information about search results is key to the research process. As he says, quoting IBM scientist Jeff Jonas, "Data finds data."