About us | About Scoope | Contact us
Scopelogo
 
google

 
  
 Sponsor Links
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
INTERVIEWS  
Archive - by Month
Archive - by Title
 

Knowledgespeak Exclusive - An interview with Mr. IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg, Vice President, Content Innovation, Elsevier - 07 Dec 2009

Q

Can you briefly tell us about yourself and your job profile at Elsevier?

A

My current focus is enhancing the value of Elsevier’s content through innovation in order to help researchers work and communicate more efficiently. This includes examining new types of content, enhancing the current article format, contextual enhancements, and enabling new discovery tools. We are currently developing content enhancements that can either be implemented automatically, such as Reflect (http://beta.cell.com/index.php/2009/11/reflect), as well as those that need to be manually implemented such as creating graphical abstracts, as seen in the Article of the Future (http://beta.cell.com/index.php/2009/07/article-of-the-future).


Q

Scientific publishing is generally dominated by journals and databases. Lately we see a new trend of journal articles providing inputs and links to databases, and articles themselves being enriched with semantic annotations for content such as chemical entities, proteins, genes etc. What is your opinion on this convergence of journal articles and databases? How will users effectively find the content they are seeking in this new environment of increasingly richer content?

A

Elsevier wholly supports realizing this idea. Interoperability and interlinking is a great benefit for our scientists as it connects all of the relevant research, making it easily accessible, wherever it is stored. In such a connected environment, each content type has its own role to play (raw data sets, peer-reviewed and validated research articles, and databases). A mechanism that links the relevant content in the context of user-task plus effective cross-content search and discovery tools are key. Cross-collaboration between the different content owners is crucial – and certainly part of the Content Innovation remit. See our latest pilot on Cell, where we pilot the Reflect semantic enhancement tool to provide valuable information and link from our articles to other databases.


Q

While content innovation is predominantly a front-end / user-end focused domain, there often exist some complicated back–end data integration & management related pain points that publishers address while creating advanced technology-based solutions. Please share your past experience w.r.t challenges in handling back-end data integration and data management pain points.

A

Content Innovation certainly has a “front-end / user-end” aspect – but it goes beyond that such as with the graphical abstracts or research highlights found in the Article of the Future project. Adding elements or including new content types in supplementary data and allowing actionable content requires changes in submission systems and production systems, right through to end-user content access systems. Of course, this is a complex issue to address, with many different journals in different domains, each of them having different priorities. However, the Content Innovation initiative is exactly that – Elsevier’s investment in the whole content flow to overcome those pain points and also to implement complex content improvement. Everything that helps researchers to work and communicate more efficiently.


Q

What initiatives are taken by Elsevier to improve the overall search functionalities of A&I databases? What are the technological innovations you foresee in the abstracting and indexing areas for better knowledge discovery? Or do you see these types of products being replaced by more sophisticated search functionality of primary literature?

A

Actually – A&I is not part of the Content Innovation initiative – which focuses on the journal articles. However, I do see possibilities in passing our innovations on to A&I databases to also support users there, by more quickly filtering through the information and search results that they find on their path.


Q

Some publishers aim to use fully automated technologies to provide content while others use a combination of automatic extraction and subsequent curation by Subject Matter experts (SMEs). In the case of Elsevier’s products, how important is human curation in achieving accurate and effective semantic enrichment, especially in the context of highly complex STM data and content?

A

Over time, automatic curation will continue to improve and replace more and more of what humans currently do. However, curation needs will also evolve and become more demanding over time and therefore human curation will always be needed – although the result of the curation will move higher up the value chain.


Q

Comment on the 2009 Elsevier Grand Challenge, the ‘Article of the Future’ efforts from Elsevier. What is the general feedback from the scientific community? What are the other initiatives that are being planned in this direction?

A

Feedback can be grouped in two categories: contest participants and non-participants. We got over 70 participants for the Grand Challenge – which really demonstrated great enthusiasm from the research community. It was really appreciated that we gave the research teams the opportunity to show their ideas and prototypes with a possibility of ultimately getting to work with a publisher. We also saw great enthusiasm for bringing research teams together and providing an opportunity for collaboration. The level of activity witnessed on Twitter and within the blog community also demonstrated the great enthusiasm for the project from those not participating in the actual contest. Giving the winner (the Reflect team) the opportunity to pilot its idea in our flagship journal Cell, as part of our 'Article of the Future' initiative, also really captured the attention of the research community. We are still finalising details for next year but we are certainly looking to maintain our efforts with an open innovation-style contest.


Q

Clearly, STM publishing is moving towards a considerably richer and useful (for the researcher) journal article. Do you see the author actually adding this value to the content he/she submits for publication or do you see publishers will need new, different forms of editorial functions (subject matter experts supported by intelligent software processes) for the “Article of the Future.” In your opinion, when will these new, richer forms of journal articles become mainstream? What are the major barriers?

A

I agree – the amount of value that publishers and journals will provide to scientists will continue to rise to unseen levels. We are investing in innovations to help researchers work more effectively and improve how they work. And yes, some of that value needs to be created by the author – for example the graphical abstract I highlighted earlier. However, I definitely see this happening and can point to the graphical abstracts now used in chemistry journals as proof. If we work together we can come a long way combining ideas, effort, technology and implementation.


For banner ads click here