Literature searching the Fediverse …

Although I’ve had an account on mastodon since 2017 it’s only since the great Twitter migration that I’ve been using it and – I like it! (You can find me there as )

I definitely don’t see it as a like-for-like replacement to twitter, what I miss from the bird site (as the denizens of the fediverse refer to it) is the breaking news (though even that seems to be under threat). However, when it comes to useful information, new tools, papers, in-depth discussions on scientific interests, Mastodon is winning every time, certanly compared to twitter now. It reminds me very much of how the birdsite was in the early days (though I’ve only been on since around 2011). It requires a bit more work to find the good stuff, and I may write something about that soon.

Anyway, an interesting discussion arose this weekend that I want to document and book mark here. Last week at work, our research group had a discussion about subscriptions and literature searches, specifically in relation to the costs of Web of Science, google scholar and connected papers.

Then on mastodon at the weeked, Carl Bergstrom (a recommended follow on #ScienceMastodon) posted about some of the issues with looking for material and in particular the potential issues with Google scholar, I replied with a link to the connected papers site. I really like the concept of connected papers and I find it an easy and intuitive tool and apparently an effective one if I see the suggestions for one particular paper I have recently been reading (see an example below):

Back on mastodon and suddenly the suggestions came pouring in! In particular Nika Shilobod has some intriguing suggestions visit the link to click on them all.

In Mastodon you can bookmark posts, so I have saved this one for future reference as I start to build a reference library looking at ice melange for my next paper. The issue has an extra relevance as the extortionate fees that publishers charge libraries is now starting to have real effects even in rich countries like Denmark where we were recently warned that we may lose full access even to very high profile journals Nature unless some reasonable agreement can be made between the universities and the publisher. (This article in the guardian is particularly eye-opening on how we got here!)

As a result I found these particularly useful links:

The website allows to search the internet for free copies of papers – and if they don’t exist will ask the author to provide them. Helpfully, there is even a chrome extension.

Interestingly, and going back to the original point, the internet archive is now also running a scholar type search tool to find articles. To compare them side by side, here is a search I did on the google tool, compared with the same word search on the internet archive tool. Both came up with pretty similar references and neither appeared to be missing anything significant.

So all of this pretty much confirms my initial impression of mastodon, and indeed the fediverse in general – there’s an enormous amount of good stuff out there, and this seems liek a really good way to find it.

For more links and suggestions, check out the replies to the original toot stream

Long live the fediverse…