Friday, 27 March 2015

Access to Understanding 2015: Who Won What?

With the Access to Understanding awards ceremony just about wrapping up, we can now announce the winners…

First place was awarded to Philippa Matthews for her entry ‘Rolling back malaria: A journey through space and time’, which described research exploring the changing patterns of malaria risk across Africa. The piece was praised by our judges for its enthusiasm, clear writing style, and sense of narrative; “using the facts to tell the story” with a “sense that the research team were on an expedition”. Congratulations Philippa!


Second place went to Juliet Lamb for her entry ‘Who you are, or who you’re with? Age predicts disease risk’. The judges felt that it was confidently written” and did a “great job of clarifying the use of mathematical models in research”. And third place was awarded to Peter Canning for his entry ‘Breaking through cancer’s acid shell’ which “didn’t shy away from the hard science” of drug absorption in the acidic environment around tumours.

And finally, the People’s Choice Award – a key part of our competition – read by you and voted for by you. The overwhelming response to the award, with over 1600 votes across all entries, yet again demonstrates the public appetite for accessible science writing. This year’s winner with over 400 votes was Sabrina Talukdar with her entry The persistent perils of puberty’. One reader commented that it was a “well written piece, making the original paper very accessible to lay people” which is exactly what Access to Understanding is about.

The standard of entries this year was very high, and it’s great to see the enthusiasm, talent and motivation of all the scientists who entered the competition.

You can read all of the shortlisted articles on the Access to Understanding website, with topics ranging from body clocks to tinnitus. If you want to delve deeper, every article is also accompanied with a link to the original research paper freely available from Europe PMC – the European gateway to biomedical research.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Vote now for the Access to Understanding People’s Choice Award

We are excited to announce voting has now opened for Access to Understanding’s People’s Choice Award!

The People’s Choice Award is an important part of the competition – since the entries are written for the public, we think they should be judged by the public. Click here or on the image below to read and vote for one of the 12 shortlisted entries.


You can vote for as many articles as you like, once a day. Voting will close at 1200 GMT on 27 March 2015, and the winner will be revealed at the Access to Understanding awards ceremony that evening.

Happy reading!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Health care and health policy reviews now available: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

More than 300 Cochrane Systematic Reviews, funded under the 2007 and 2010 UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Programme Grant programmes, are available on Europe PMC.

This has been a collaborative project between Cochrane, Wiley, and the Europe PMC team, and has enabled us to make this subset of full-text reviews available to access for free via Europe PMC with the functionality that papers in Europe PMC enjoy.

Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, and are used internationally to inform evidence-based health care policy and practice. Those included in Europe PMC investigate the effects of interventions for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, or studies assessing diagnostic test accuracy.

We look forward to adding further reviews in the future as they become available.

Weighing up the evidence

To find Cochrane Reviews on Europe PMC you may use the search term:
(JOURNAL:"Cochrane Database Syst Rev") AND (EPMC_AUTH_MAN:y)
or use journals search box in the Advanced Search facility.

This post is by Rob Rowbotham, Europe PMC Helpdesk Manager.

Stay in touch with what's happening at Europe PMC by following us on Twitter: @EuropePMC_News

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Europe PMC’s new unified search system: you can have it all!

Europe PMC provides a single search interface for 30 million abstracts (including PubMed) and over 3 million full text articles.

However, until now, the world of abstracts and the world of full-text articles, while connected in many ways, were developed quite independently from each other for various historical reasons. The practical consequence of this is that the two sources have different information associated with them: abstracts tend to have richer metadata, while full text articles of course have more content as well as other specific information such as the article’s licence and text-mined data citations associated with them. Until now, Europe PMC has treated abstracts and full-text articles distinctly, meaning that search results have been displayed as two separate results lists - one for abstracts and one for full text, and certain types of searches that cut across all content have been very difficult if not impossible to execute.

From this week, Europe PMC search now simultaneously operates across all abstracts and all full text articles, presenting the results as a single list. This has several immediate advantages. For example:

  • PMIDs and PMCIDs can now be used interchangeably to retrieve the article record , and both identifiers are displayed clearly on both abstracts and full text
  • It is now straightforward to see which full text articles you can freely access in Europe PMC, or see how many are Open Access, via the “Popular Content Sets” listed on each search result page. Try doing this with an ORCID search.

But perhaps the more open-ended implication of this development is that incorporating full text into the default search provides opportunities to bring nuggets of information from deep within articles to the surface, but accompanying this, challenges to filter out noise. As the proportion of full text articles available in Europe PMC continues to grow, it will become increasingly important to build on the basic Europe PMC sorting and filtering features such as relevance rank in order to help you find information quickly. Inventing new ways to navigate and explore the knowledge in articles becomes even more of a necessity in the context of big data, requiring a combination of improved information retrieval, linking, and content mining approaches. Europe PMC aims to provide the necessary infrastructure to harness effort from the wider research and content mining community to meet these challenges, putting open full text at the heart of these future developments.

We welcome any feedback from Europe PMC users on the new search, or any other aspect of the website, via comments to this post or via the Feedback tab at the bottom of every Europe PMC page.

Stay in touch with what's happening at Europe PMC by following us on Twitter@EuropePMC_News

1. Europe PMC Consortium. Europe PMC: a full-text literature database for the life sciences and platform for innovation. Nucleic Acids Res. 2015 Jan;43(Database issue) D1042-8.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Access to Understanding: Statistically Speaking

Access to Understanding is getting bigger and better every year. The 2015 science-writing competition attracted over 300 entries from all over the world. But don’t take my word for it, explore the map below to see where they came from and what they were about.



Globalised Science
With 227 submissions, the lion’s share of entries were from the UK. But that’s not the whole story. The competition has a far more international flavour this year with our first entrants from Africa (Ghana and South Africa), a growth in entrants from Eastern Europe and an impressive 24 entrants from India (nearly 8% of all our entries).



Women and Science Communication
With 69.2% of all biomedical postgraduate degrees awarded to women, it’s not surprising that 70% of our entrants were female. In light of the wider gender imbalance in terms of published papers, it’s great to see that Access to Understanding fairly reflects the female contribution to the biomedical sciences.



Student Habits Die Hard

As ever, our entrants left things to the last minute with 57% submitting their entries in the last 24 hours, and 21% in the last hour. Busy times at A2U HQ!


The majority of our entrants were at PhD level (nearly 5 times as many PhD students entered as postdoctoral researchers), and generally our entrants were more likely to be in the early stages of their position (compare 75 first-year with 6 sixth-year PhD students). As we know already, having an article published by eLife is a great start to your research career.

With all the hard work done for our entrants, it’s just a matter of waiting. The winner will be announced at the Oscars of science writing – the Access to Understanding award ceremony at the British Library on 27 March 2015. In the meantime, stay tuned here and to the British Library Science Blog for competition details, shortlisted entries and more…

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Innovation in Digital Publishing: blog series


Guest post from Lisa O’Sullivan, Director, Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health

By now it’s axiomatic that the digital world poses new opportunities and challenges for researchers, libraries, educational institutions, and publishers, which must be engaged with digital formats in a sustained and thoughtful way. The realities of this landscape encompass challenges to traditional models of publication and new expectations around access to both historic collections and new research literature. Open Access (OA) publishing and archiving is a central one of these challenges. 

Why is OA such a critical concern for libraries, researchers and publishers? (And why should you as a reader care?). In December 2013, we at The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) hosted an informal meeting around questions of OA. Participants discussed how issues of access to information have, ironically, been exacerbated by the growth of digital journals and electronic resources. Access to new research, whether in the sciences or humanities, is often prohibitively expensive for individuals and institutions. Authors struggle to make their work accessible to the broadest possible readership. Jill Cirasella at CUNY has produced an excellent summary of what’s at stake in discussions of OA.

The Wellcome Trust has been at the forefront in supporting open access to the research it funds in biomedical science and medical humanities, from its support of the open-access eLife journal and Europe PMC to ensuring that all research funded by the Trust is made freely available to users. As such, NYAM are delighted to be working with the Trust to coordinate a panel called Innovation in Digital Publishing in the Humanities at the American Historical Association Annual Meeting taking place in New York in January. The panel will be chaired by Stephen Robertson, professor and director of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History & New Media at George Mason, whose Digital Harlem project has won multiple awards for innovation in digital history.

Our panel will examine OA from a number of perspectives. However the potentials (and associated challenges) of digital publishing go beyond OA to broader opportunities for readers, publishers, and writers in the digital world, whether relating to new ways of presenting archival material online, new ways of doing and sharing research, or new ways to engage larger audiences, and we will explore some of these as well.

We’ve asked our speakers to start the conversation early by giving their thoughts on the biggest challenge or opportunity facing digital publishing. This week, the blog series features two perspectives on Open Access and its implications, from Cecy Marden (Wellcome Trust) and Lisa Norberg (Barnard College Library). We will publish thoughts from Martin Eve (University of Lincoln and Open Library of Humanities), Kathleen Fitzpatrick (Modern Language Association), and Matthew K. Gold (New York City College of Technology and City University of New York, Graduate Center) over the next few weeks. Visit NYAM’s Innovation in Digital Publishing section to read them all as they go live.

Feel free to pose questions to the participants individually or as a group; they will respond on the blog and take your thoughts into consideration for the panel itself.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Science-writing competition now open!

Enter a prestigious, international science-writing competition aimed at PhD students and early career post-doctoral researchers.

The winner will receive an iPad and have their entry published in eLife. Read on for more…



For more information: http://EuropePMC.org/ScienceWritingCompetition
Questions: Engagement@EuropePMC.org

The competition is developed by the British Library, eLife and Europe PMC for Access to Understanding. It is supported by the Europe PMC Funders.

Access to Understanding is a collaboration promoting wider understanding of biomedical research findings.