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What I Learned at the ASIDIC (3/23) Meeting

March 26, 2010

This is not a full trip report (Tim has already done that excellent job besides being the organizer of this meeting) but rather on some items I had a chance to discuss with the participants. I don’t often get the opportunity to participate in meetings involving information scientists and this seem to have come at the right time while we are in the middle of the PACS->Thesaurus project (thanks to Terry Hulbert for recommending this meeting). This happened to be a one-day meeting and the participants only had the time for networking during breaks but I was able to get involved in a few conversations.

How is AIP doing and what it should do

A few participants came to me introducing themselves, commending AIP’s efforts in the development of the physics thesaurus, content management and mobile access. Sue Feldman, VP of IDC and a keynote speaker, while commending our efforts was very critical asserting that we should not build walls around services/applications particularly for the mobile. She took time to explain the need for building intelligent workspaces. I am still trying to digest the details and that should be the subject of another post. Brooks Hanson (Science mag) wanted to know our MarkLogic experience – they are considering acquiring the system and thought our input would be quite useful, I had put him up with James Wonder.

Semantic Technology

Now that everyone knows about the AIP Thesaurus project, there is a great deal of anticipation, everybody is watching the next step . Our project is now making people think and discuss how to handle potentially several domain taxonomies in future.

Reviewer Finder

This is a very useful tool developed by Collexis to find reviewers for submitted manuscripts. AACR editorial staff is using this for their six journals. They get about 11,000 submissions of which 7,500 are sent to reviewers (2 reviewers/manuscript). Their Sept09-Jan10 rollout was very smooth and they are so satisfied with this system that they are thinking of automating the process. Judy Quong had the following to say to my question of providing some details:

Theoretically, the system could transfer the manuscript information to Reviewer Finder, generate a list of potential reviewers, and then send out invitation letters without any human intervention. Or, it could be configured to do only parts of this automatically. We’re going to wait and get input from editors before making any decisions.

Submitted Manuscripts and CMS/Repository

It was interesting that one publisher (APA) makes a connection of the submitted manuscripts to the MarkLogic ‘smart repository’. Matt Turner (MarkLogic) explained to me the reference validation process. I told him going forward it would be of great use if the system can validate an entire statement in the submitted manuscripts vis-à-vis the cited reference. Matt got very excited of this suggestion – he even told John Blossom how this is useful for the legal publishers as well and he is going to work on this soon. (I felt bad throwing away a nice idea) As John Blossom put it nicely in his blog post:

As I was discussing with an attendee afterwards, this is still the early days of semantic implementation for many publishers, with many high-value products and services only beginning to emerge for enterprise use. For example, what happens when you start applying semantics to newly released scientific research that puts previous research about a company’s drugs or medical technologies in a negative light?

IEEE Thesaurus, MeSH etc

Bill Pickering (IEEE) Richard Klavans (Scitech) in their talk showed some data of content overlap between IEEE and pubmed. I asked them what percentage (if not number) of terms in IEEE Thes have an overlap with MeSH terms (naturally I would be interested to know the % overlap with Mesh when the AIP Thes is ready). They did not have the info and so I emailed Margie Hlava (Access Innovations, our vendor) and her response was:

The conceptual overlap between the two thesauri [IEEE and Mesh] is a gradient and shows at the edges of the attached slide. The red is Mesh and the purple is IEEE, the blue is DTIC. There is also some history here as both the PACS and the DITC have at their historical source the work from the COSATI TEST (Council and Scientific and technical Information) Thesaurus of Engineering and Scientific Terms – 1965 So naturally there is overlap. Ei and INSPEC have it as well.

and another response from Kevin Boyack (Scitech):

One can look at the number of IEEE documents that PubMed indexes. We all know that PubMed indexes selectively only those things that they think are within their purview. PubMed indexes 2-3% of the IEEE content each year. So, from PubMed’s viewpoint, 3% of IEEE’s content is in their space. Given that each paper has multiple index terms, I would assume that the term overlap is larger than the article overlap – maybe 5% or more.

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