After the recent launch of Sciencescape, here is another startup pledging to help us cope with the enormous amount of data and literature at our disposal. SciCurve uses PubMed‘s library of 23 million references to generate visually pleasing graphs and curves that helps you grasp trends in literature. It comes with three main functionalities
Observing trends for your field of study.
For academic researchers, knowing about the publication trends in a field is fundamental when writing a review or a grant proposal. Is this field new? Has is been prolific in the 70s and is coming back? Or is it the latest hot field and is in exponential growth? SciCurve saves you the trouble of going through PubMed results and manually copy/pasting the number of search results. Simply enter one or more keyword and it will display a timeline of the number of publications and citation counts over the past 14 years.
Exploring research networks.
One particularly challenging task when exploring the literature, is to quickly find the key papers, on which most of the field is based. Manually going through papers and tracing back the original work is time-consuming, and the large amount of information gathered could end up be confusing. SciCurve helps you analyse the literature automatically and helps you understand its findings by generating representations of how paper are interconnected.
The network tab displays a map of the network of publications based on citation relationships. Important papers tend to form nodes from which radiates the papers citing that work. Key papers, and the articles citing them can then easily be identified.
Second, the map function places on a map top papers of the field represented by circles of size proportional to their relevance. SciCurve clusters similar papers together, naturally point-out relevant sub-fields. This is particularly useful to understand what a field might entail.
Finding who drives the scientific endeavour?
SciCurve also automatically generates author profile pages, including a map of their most frequent co-authors and a list of their publication. Wondering who are the most prolific authors in your field? SciCurve can identify the key authors in a particular field and map them out as a function of their publication record.
The graphs and maps, but not the raw data, can be downloaded in the free version of SciCurve. An enterprise version, with more advanced functionalities is offered for a fee. SciCurve also supports Zotero and Mendeley integration which allows you to easily export references to your favorite citation management tools.
Beyond a rather obvious usefulness for academics and R&D scientists, this sort of tool could be interesting for general practitioners and other medical specialists that do not have the time to grasp the latest trends in medical research. Publishers and research databases could also use this approach to improve their search engines by providing a more data-rich and more visual experience to their users.