Many life science students and researchers couldn’t live without PubMed, a free comprehensive research database that includes articles related to health and a number of biological sciences. Unfortunately, navigating the intimidatingly massive database can be difficult for novices – the interface looks like it hasn’t seen an update in about a decade.
Ologeez!, a new Stanford startup that recently launched in public beta, is looking to help. The site offers an intuitive portal for searching through science articles that integrates social features that it hopes will help scientists find relevant material and colleagues more quickly. For now the site is limited to users at universities, but founder Jason Hoyt says that it will eventually expand to the general public.
Ologeez accesses PubMed articles through the database’s API, but it goes beyond just improving the interface. Users can rate and discuss each article on the site, which will eventually help the most credible articles rise to the top of search results. Users can also upload articles to Ologeez that aren’t included in the PubMed database. Each article can be categorized, which allows the site to offer Netflix-like recommendations for “other items you might be interested in”.
The site’s social networking features aren’t targeted at individuals (this isn’t a Facebook for scientists). Instead, it’s aimed at groups of scientists who collaborate together. For example, members of a lab could share calendars, safety guides, and lab protocols on the site, as if it were a virtual bulletin board. Hoyt says that the site also allows users to search through the database by keyword and field, potentially connecting researchers who may be interested in working together.
Ologeez’s real flaw is that it has very few article ratings and discussions at this point (there simply isn’t a sizable user base). But it can’t just open the floodgates to the masses. To succeed, it will need to establish itself as not just a popular resource for article ratings, but a credible one as well – something that will be hard to do.