Gather, collect, share, and network

A few weeks ago we wrote about Connotea, a “social bookmarking” tool for academics, and in the comments Duke Professor Gary Feng reminded us of CiteULike, a similar tool that is currently more widely used in the sciences. Around the same time, the spring issue of the UK journal Ariadne came out with an article on CiteULike, titled “Citeulike: A Researcher’s Social Bookmarking Service“. The introduction reads

This article describes Citeulike, a fusion of Web-based social bookmarking services and traditional bibliographic management tools. It discusses how Citeulike turns the linear ‘gather, collect, share’ process inherent in academic research into a circular ‘gather, collect, share and network’ process, enabling the sharing and discovery of academic literature and research papers.

The article provides a brief overview of the principles behind tools like CiteULike and Connotea, and gives examples of how these tools can be useful for academics. It explains how to use CiteULike to build networks of citations shared among colleagues, in addition to using it for managing one’s own citations. As the authors write,

The fact that two users read similar literature probably indicates that they will potentially have a professional interest in each other. The bibliographic data forms a fabric binding people together.

This fabric is a major reason why we come together in universities, so it makes sense that the digital tools we use should help to strengthen these ties, and do so even across institutions and geographical boundaries. Might tools like this eventually become the platform for a different kind of peer review? Dario Taraborelli muses on this in his blog posting “Soft peer review? Social software and distributed scientific evaluation” in the Academic Productivity blog.