A new web interface to improve access to resources for those in the life sciences

Added by Branwen Hide on 25 January 2010 10:56

Last week I attended the launch of the new UK PubMed Central (UKPMC) site, which is being advertised as a new innovative web interface that will improve access to medically related literature.

UKPMC started as the UK version of the US PubMed and PubMed Cental (PMC), which are funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I say PubMed and PMC as UKPMC not only provides access to all the material in PubMed (including material from MEDLINE) as well as access to the full text articles deposited in PMC as part of the NIH mandate on open access. In addition it acts as a repository for biomedically funded research in the UK (the funders and their policies are listed on UKPMC website), and this information is then made available to PubMed.  Since researchers could access the same content via any of the three portals, the question was always, why should they use a UK specific portal, especially one that just redirected you to PubMed once you started searching? Those behind UKPMC have spent a lot of time working with research funders and researchers to help answer that question and as a result have developed a tool that can be integrated into a researchers work space and would add value to the existing UKPMC repository.

In collaboration with the EBI they have incorporated the ?Whatizit? service which will highlight and link all the biological entities within the abstract or open access full text article, enabling the researchers to get contextually important information about the article. They have also included tools to help monitor your research impact, such as being able to see just who is citing your work. They have also worked with funding agencies to enable you to tie your research output to your specific grant, which enables both parties to monitor the success of a particular funding stream.

But for me, the most interesting addition and where I see the most added value is as a result of the role the British Library is playing in UKPMC. Not only will you be able to search the entire PubMed database, including a substantial number of free full text articles, but you will now have access to policy documents, reports, PhD thesis, and NICE guidelines. This additional material was often very difficult to find let alone get a hold of, so this will be very useful to researchers.

Also, one of the key points raised at the launch event is that the site is still very much in beta mode and they want feedback from users, particularly researchers. They are not just looking for ways to improve the existing site, but are also looking for suggestions on what to add to it, to make it more useful to researchers, for example linking to the information in Faculty1000.  Email ukpmc-engagment@bl.uk with your thoughts.

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