I came across Scholrly the other day while browsing through twitter. Although the bright green logo was an eye-catcher, it’s their innovative approach to literature-search that got me really interested. I spoke with Corbin Pon, co-founder of Scholrly to know a bit more.
During his undergrad at Georgia Tech, Corbin did a bit of research in academic labs. He quickly understood that there is a lack of good online tools for researchers, and came to the conclusion that web2.0 technologies could help solve challenges of modern research. One thing that striked him in particular was how difficult it could be for researchers to identify and connect with specialists that are outside of their field of expertise. Since multidisciplinary project are becoming the norm and connections between fields of science are more frequent, there is a clear need a better way to connect scientists.From this observation a team was assembled and Scholrly was born.
Scholrly is a search engine that puts the emphasis on people, more than on articles. Type in keywords, and along with the publications, profiles of important authors are also displayed.
The screen is divided into two halves, one for the publications and the other for identifying the major actors in the field investigated.
“We want the user to reach out to the researchers, to email them” says Corbin. And indeed the tool is geared towards building connections and relationships between scientists. Scholrly automatically gathers information about the authors such as publications, affiliations, co-authors and impact-metric. Most importantly Scholrly will provide the contact information you need to, follow-up on an article, ask for a reagents or start new collaborations.
The site has been in private beta testing for more than a year, with around a thousand users providing them with feedback. Since January, Scholrly is live and entered a public beta testing phase. The search engine is optimized for the computer science field, but will soon fully integrate other fields. Corbin explained that this step by step development is essential since it is important to consider particularities in the culture of different fields.
Thinking ahead, Corbin explains that they are developing several potential business plans to sustain their venture. They see their main value as being the connections created between users. They also hope to attract a new and slightly more lucrative audience than professors, graduate students and postdocs. Companies, in particular pharmaceutical and biotechs are turning more and more towards academic research to find their next blockbuster products. Scholrly will connect them with researchers and help them find innovative solutions to their problems. A service very close to what tech-transfer offices are doing in many universities and research institutes.
Scholrly is up against giants like Google and Thomson Reuters, but comes with a fresh look and a new approach. They realize there’s a brand new space for online tools for researchers, ready to be explored. Lets wish them good luck for this new year to come!