Wednesday 17 July 2013

figshare: making research articles come to life

figshare has been shortlisted for the ALPSP Award for Publishing Innovation 2013. Here, in a guest post, they write about how the project was born, and plans for the future.

"figshare was born out of the frustration of founder Mark Hahnel who after finishing his PhD in Stem Cell Biology had no way of getting credit for all of his academic research. After three years of intensive work his 9GB of figures, datasets and media had been reduced to four papers and 250kb of static images. 99.9% of his outputs were destined to lay dormant and largely undiscovered in his institute’s repository. Mark saw this as something that was broken in academia and set about building a solution with figshare. 

figshare started as an open online repository where users can make all of their research outputs available in a citable, sharable and discoverable manner. Academics and researchers can upload up to 1GB of private data and unlimited public data, it accepts all file types and visualises them in the browser which removes the dependency on third party software to view files. All research outputs published on figshare are given a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) making them citable, whilst gamification metrics encourage the sharing of data with the wider community, which in turn makes the research data easier to discover.

figshare has rapidly evolved since its launch in January 2012 and now works with publishers to aid visualisation, interactivity and discoverability of research outputs.

Partnership with PLoS
Notable examples include a partnership with the Public Library of Science (PLoS) whereby all supplementary material in all PLoS journals is now visualisable in the browser thanks to widgets provided by figshare. F1000 Research, a novel open publishing platform, also uses figshare technology to allow authors to embed large amounts of data within the articles.

As part of the publisher offering, figshare has also built portals for publishers whereby the content can be filtered based on specific journals and content within that journal. Breaking the articles into their smallest citable units allows the content to be linked and filtered upon, making the outputs more discoverable. As publishers move to disseminate different types of content other than just text and PDF documents, there needs to be new ways to visualise and navigate the content. The publisher portals demonstrate an innovative way of doing this so the potential value of all research is truly unlocked."

The ALPSP Awards finalists will be given the opportunity to showcase their journal or innovation in a rapid fire session at the ALPSP International Conference on Wednesday 11 September.

The winners will be announced at the Conference Awards Dinner on 12 September. Book now to secure your place.

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