Friday, 12 July 2013

Why do we need 'another' PubMed?

I have just been to the BioBricks Fondation SB6.0 conference, an international Synthetic Biology conference, this year hosted in the UK at Imperial College London. Synthetic Biology is one of the most recent scientific disciplines, and draws on the themes of nature, science and engineering 'to connect fields in new ways by improving the process of taking a new biological design from conception to execution' (from SB6.0 programme: introduction from the executive programme team).

It was a good opportunity to raise awareness of Europe PubMed Central (Europe PMC), a resource that provides free and open access to biomedical and life sciences literature, as the synthetic biology discipline also celebrates openness - the BioBricks Foundation's mission is to ensure that research is conducted in an open and ethical manner to benefit all people and the planet.

Being an international conference, the questions posed about Europe PMC differed slightly to those asked when I visit an HEI, usually in the UK. Some have asked: 'Why Europe PMC? Why does there need to be 'another' PubMed?' - imagine an indignant tone when the question is asked!

So this seemed like a good opportunity to explain, and to set the record straight that this is done in collaboration with PMC. Essentially, the long term goal is to create a network of digital archives that can share all of their respective locally deposited content with others in the network. There are three primary reasons for doing this:
  • The probablity of an archive surviving over the long term is greater if there are working copies of the archive in regular use at multiple sites around the world.
  • A producer or funder of research literature often will be more inclined to make the primary deposit of its material to a locally or regionally affiliated archive, rather than to one operated elsewhere in the world - you can find out more about the Europe PMC funders here.
  • Each site can integrate the journal articles in the archive with related material, such as national or regional practice guidelines, that has particular significance to its users.
(from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/about/pmci/)
 
Having a number of instances of the PMC database is modelled on the idea adopted for genomic data. The International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration comprises the DNA DataBank of Japan (DDBJ), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), and GenBank at NCBI. These three databases exchange data on a daily basis, but all three interfaces offer different functionality that benefit the molecular biology community.

Europe PMC offers many additional features that have been informed by researcher wants and requirements, for example:
  • In addition to the PMC full text, Europe PMC also enables you to search the PubMed abstracts, biological patents records and more, from a single search box.
  • Information discovery is streamlined by directly linking out to gene, protein and chemical compound databases - and this list is constantly growing.
  • The citation network provides 'cited by' information for each article, and you can now identify highly cited articles by using the citation sort tool.
Coming soon:
  • The Europe PMC External Links Service, which will enable people to publish links from articles in Europe PMC to related information or tools.
  • Incorporation of ORCIDs into Europe PMC.
Find out more about these new developments on this blog, or by following us on Twitter @EuropePMC_News

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