2collab: A review, kinda.

Via Deepak, I hear of Elsevier’s new social bookmarking effort. Bookmarking services are great because they remove the drudgery out of maintaining a list of references or doing a literature review when writing a paper or proposal. 2collab is particularly nice because not only does it show you the references cited by the bookmarked paper, but it shows you papers citing the bookmarked article as well, making it as easy to go forwards as backwards in your literature review. It also shows you else is bookmarking your papers and commenting upon them, which given a large enough user base, can serve as an indicator of popularity/impact of a paper. Surprisingly(for a product from Elsevier), it’s open, free, supports import and export, and there’s going to be a public API.

After reading the terms of use, registration disclaimer, and privacy policy(one of which says that everything you upload becomes copyrighted property of Elsevier, and one of which specifically disclaims any ownership of contributed material – I’m guessing a developer vs. publisher disconnect here), I sign up. The first thing I was prompted to do was to establish my profile, so I enter my blog and email and so forth, and I’m pleased to see that I can enter a Scopus author ID and it will automatically import my publications. This is a nice feature that I’ve wanted to see in Connotea, but would have been hard for them(or any third-party service not having their own database) to implement because they don’t have the ability to assign a unique identifier to each article. Unfortunately, I have no idea what my author ID might be, and a search in Scopus for my name a couple different ways turns up nothing. Web of Science is only missing one or two of my papers, but I can’t find a single one of my publications in Scopus. I can find some papers which cited my work in the database, but since my library subscribes to Web of Science and not Scopus, I can’t follow the citation trail to see if I’m in there that way. Here’s a more in-depth review of WoS vs. Scopus. OK, so that’s it for the profile. Saving my profile, I notice that if I put a URL where the site name is supposed to be, I get some database errors, so that’s evidence that they don’t have their input sanitization worked out just right. Hopefully, they’ll get this worked out before anything untoward happens.

I export my Zotero library(previously imported from Connotea) and import to 2collab. Nothing happens for quite some time, and when I flip back to the window to see how the import is going, there’s a message saying I needed to log-in to do that operation. I was logged in, but I re-log in and get back to the import page, re-select my .RIS file, and hit the import button again. This time I’m told that it couldn’t recognize 4 of the entries as journal articles, and the other 500+ were seen as duplicates already in my library. OK, so I flip back to my library and see that it’s full of entries, but the number there doesn’t match the number of items in the file I imported, and in fact is missing a few hundred entries.

On the other hand, I’m quite pleased to see as I scroll down the list that the number of citations of each item in Scopus is shown, and clicking the link shows the Scopus page listing all the citations of that item. This is another feature I’ve wanted for some time, but I wonder how complete the index is, given the problems finding my papers. The most serious problem, however, is that none of my tags got imported(the KW field in the .RIS file), so I essentially have a huge list that I can only filter by “most recent”, “highest rated”, or “number of comments”, none of which is any good on a recently imported batch of bookmarks.

I looked for a way to delete the whole library and start over, but I didn’t find it. I sent an email but no reply yet. So, unfortunately, this is where the review has to end. I could just make a new account, but identity is important, and I want that userID. I’ll check back in a couple months to see how things have progressed, but right now I’m thinking that the removal of the beta tag is perhaps a bit soon.

The good

  • Open
  • Free
  • Integrated
  • shows both cited and citing references
  • automatically imports your publications

The bad

  • citing refs and import only works with Scopus
  • import strips tags
  • some data entry weirdness
  • Couldn’t actually start using the service due to an unrecoverable import error

One other weird thing. This is the icon representing that you have a blog, no matter what software you’re running: Blogger

[They’ve finally emailed me to acknowledge the tag import and delete selection bugs, and they say they’re working on them.]

11 thoughts on “2collab: A review, kinda.

  1. Pingback: 2collab and Connotea are social bookmarking services for scientific publications » Synthesis» An open science and social technology blog by William Gunn

  2. Pingback: William Gunn joins Mendeley as Community Liaison | Mendeley Blog

  3. The best in class reference manager now is Mendeley. 2collab was a “me too” experiment from a publishing company that didn’t seem all that committed to the project, and Connotea was a great idea that worked for a while but fell behind, perhaps being similarly starved for resources from its parent company NPG. I don’t recommend either of them anymore.

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