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FreePint BlogA look at Elsevier's approach to apps in Scopus

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By Yulia Aspinall


Scopus, the STM database published by Elsevier, combines a deep pool of content, strong search features, citation tracking and data visualisation to create a powerful offering. Researcher Yulia Aspinall conducted an in-depth review for FreePint. Amongst her favourite features were the API, which enables a user to combine Scopus results with results from any compatible source, as well as the use of Altmetric to integrate information from social media and non-traditional environments into Scopus.


Scopus was created in 2004 by Elsevier, one of the world's leading providers of science and health information, in conjunction with over 300 individual users and librarians worldwide. This powerful bibliographic database offers extensive literature coverage and as well as impressive options for citation searching and analysis.

One particularly interesting aspect of Scopus, for which I wrote a comprehensive review for FreePint, is its approach to applications. The Scopus Application Program Interface (API) lets librarians use the capability of Scopus to creatively interact with data by building mashups (for example, a webpage that combines complementary elements from two or more sources) to make database content available directly from their institutional website. In this way, API allows users to search the content and to display the outcome on an internal website. Access to APIs are free of charge for customers.

Through SciVerse Applications, researchers and librarians can customise their search and discovery processes and collaborate with developers to create new on-product applications. These apps allow users to enhance their search outcomes, collaborate with other researchers, manage discovery processes and the analysis of scientific information. Third party applications, which may be free or fee-based, are also accessible from within Scopus.

For example, the "PubMed Related Articles" app for Scopus offers users a new option for discovering related documents in Scopus and PubMed. This application retrieves related citations that are displayed on PubMed record pages.

Another application that will be familiar to scientists is the F1000, which takes the user directly to the F1000 evaluation of the article. Faculty of 1000 is a post-publication peer review service based on the opinions of more than 10,000 of the world’s top researchers and clinicians.

It is also worth mentioning the Altmetric app. Altmetric watches social media sites (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+), science blogs, many mainstream media outlets (including the New York Times, The Guardian, non-English language publications like Die Zeit & Le Monde and special interest publications like Scientific American, New Scientist) and reference managers for mentions of academic papers. It's a quick and easy way to see all of the social or mainstream media mentions gathered for a particular paper as well as reader counts on popular reference managers.

New apps can be downloaded from the Application Gallery page, which is accessible though the main menu at the top of the screen. The approach to apps taken in the Scopus product provides endless opportunities for information professionals and developers alike to create useful tools that enhance the usability of this deep database of abstract and citation information for peer-reviewed literature.

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Yulia Aspinall, PhD is an independent consultant in biopharmaceutical strategic information and intelligence. Her consultancy YVAInfo specialises in applying the tools and processes of knowledge and information management (KIM) to establish channels for collecting, analysing and sharing intelligence on competitors. Yulia also developed PharmaInfoLine - a free website for information professionals in pharmaceutical industry. Her articles on competitive intelligence and information resources are published in FreePint and in Business Information Review.

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