What the scientific community wants computers to do for them: The results of the PLoS and Mendeley Call for Apps

A little over a week ago, PLoS and Mendeley got together to issue a “Call for Apps” to the scientific community. We have now collected some really great ideas which we’d like to pass along to the developer community. Some of the ideas are Binary Battle-ready, while others are just kinda cool, so take a look at the list and see if anything inspires you.

Some interesting Binary Battle-ready ideas are:

  • Displaying the impact of diverse research outputs on your CV or website. For example, how many blogs have written about your paper, how often have your datasets been mentioned in scientific lit, etc. An existing app, called Total Impact, does just that but it needs to be taken from prototype to full-fledged app. More info here. Suggested by Heather Piwowar hpiwowar(at)gmail(dot)com or total-impact(at)googlegroups(dot)com
  • A service/app that provides me with recommendations for funding calls / grants / fellowships / scholarships as well as upcoming conferences based on the contents of my Mendeley library.
  • Seminar alert. Database where everybody can post their seminars/meetings linked to your personal literature database. So if you read papers of author x or have notified that you are interested in work of author x, the app will notify you if this person will give a seminar in your neighborhood or on a conference. You can choose what you neighborhood means (i.e. same state/country/continent/world).
  • CiTO Support for Mendeley and PLoS – This would add information to citations such that a reader (or a computer analyzing the citation network) knows why a paper is citing another one and what part of the paper is being cited. Suggested by egon.willighagen(at)gmail.com
  • Search papers in Mendeley or PLoS based on geography or genes. Suggested by Sjurdur Hammer sjurdur(at)hotmail(dot)com and anonymous, respectively
  • A tool that will automatically export illustrations and figures (as well as their attributions and CC licenses) from PLoS papers to the Wikimedia Commons. Suggested by anonymous.
  • More ideas here.

Ideas that may not be eligible for the Binary Battle, but are still cool

  • A searchable directory that could collate grant/funding opportunities from across all Federal, State and Foundation entities that are currently silo-ed into individual, closed databases on individual websites. This master databank should then be sortable by field, interest area, investigators (e.g. young investigators, tenure-track faculty, postdoc, etc.), funding amount, etc. Suggested by Llewellyn Cox, PhD: llewellc(at)usc(dot)edu
  • A citizen science measurement app (like NYC Cricket Crawl) via GPS, photo, video, audio recording that sends data in standardized format. Suggested by mik3cap.
  • An app for identifying bat species from the sounds they make. You would hold up the smartphone and it would record a sound and then give you a species identification on the phone. Suggested by Dr. Kate Jones: kate(dot)jones(at)ioz(dot)ac(dot)uk
  • An educational App which finds the most recent common ancestor between any two species on the planet. Suggested by aulridgejr(at)gmail(dot)com
  • More ideas here.

To sign up to develop an idea or request an API key from PLoS, fill out this form. We encourage you to work as a team with others who are interested in the same idea, and also to contact the scientist who conceived of the idea for more input or to invite them to collaborate. If multiple people sign up to work on the same idea, we’ll offer to make the introduction.

Finished apps for the Binary Battle competition must be received by September 30th. Tim O’Reilly looks forward to seeing your work!

One thought on “What the scientific community wants computers to do for them: The results of the PLoS and Mendeley Call for Apps

  1. I see a mind-mapping tool with access to personal Mendeley libraries was a popular suggestion. There is already a mind-mapping tool aimed at academics called SciPlore, which is forked from a fairly mature open-source project. Currently it can work with the bibtex file exported from Mendeley (mentioned on their homepage). SciPlore is soon to be renamed Docear and I have created I suggustion on their feedback site to use Mendeley APIs.


    Other Mendeley users interested in this kind of tool should consider voting it up.

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