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…