Social bookmarking for academics

A few days ago I blogged about social networks for the professions - in particular for scientists. In her comment, Kimberly added some social networks for business professionals. Today's blog article is about social bookmarking for the professions - in particular for academics.

CiteULike is a free service to help you to store, organise and share the scholarly papers you are reading. When you see a paper on the web that interests you, you can click one button and have it added to your personal library. As long as the paper is from a supported website, CiteULike automatically extracts the citation details. But you can also post an article from any non-supported site on the web - you'll just have to type the citation details in yourself. Because your library is stored on the server, you can access it from any computer with an Internet connection. You can also share your library with others, and in turn, discover from others the literature which is relevant to your field but you may not have known about. You can import your existing references into CiteULike and you can export your library in either BibTeX or RIS format then use BibTeX or EndNote (or whichever reference manager you prefer) to build it in to your bibliography.

Richard Cameron wrote CiteULike in November 2004 and ran the service privately. In December 2006 Richard teamed up with Chris Hall, Kevin Emamy and James Caddy to set up Oversity Ltd. to further develop and support CiteULike. In a recent interview Richard said:

"The reason I wrote the site was, after recently coming back to academia, I was slightly shocked by the quality of some of the tools available to help academics do their job. I found it preferable to start writing proper tools for my own use than to use existing software.

Collecting material for a bibliography is something which appeared to require an amazing amount of drudgery ... I'd need amazing amounts of self discipline to consistently bookmark everything I ever read on the off-chance that I might want it again. Unless, of course, it just involved clicking a button on the browser and having it all magically happen.

So, the obvious idea was that if I use a web browser to read articles, the most convenient way of storing them is by using a web browser too. This becomes even more interesting when you consider the process of jointly authoring a paper. There is a point where all the authors need to get together and get all the articles they wish to cite into the one place. If you do this process collaboratively on a web site, then it's easier.

The next obvious leap is that if all the references are available via a web interface on a central server, it would be really nice to see what your colleagues are reading and be able to show them what you're reading. It cuts down on the number of emails saying "have you seen this article?"

In fact, if enough users register on the system, you'll probably find people reading the same articles as you. That provides a great way of keeping on top of the literature - you simply share it with people who have common interests ...

So, I wrote CiteULike. It's grown a little bit since then, and the plan is to keep developing it and making it better."

More on social bookmarking.

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