Tag Archive 'search engine'

Aug 04 2009

ResearchGATE: Get Your Science 2.0 On

Attention all you budding young scientists (and you older ones too!), here is your chance to make some scholarly connections. If you’ve been around the internet you’ve probably noticed the plethora of social networking websites, tools for collaboration, discussion, and search engines. If you are a scientist and have been looking for a place that brings all the previously mentioned tools together (and more), pull out your microscope and take a closer look at ResearchGATE.

First of all ResearchGATE acts as a social networking site that allows you to create a profile that lists all your important information (your papers, interests, skills, etc). You can then add other researchers and scientists as contacts. This opens the door for possible research partners in the future. Like other social networking sites ResearchGATE allows the users to create groups around interests and topics. The significance of have such a feature for researchers has already been seen during the current swine flu crisis. At the end of April 2009, ResearchGATE blogged about a group that had formed to discuss influenza research. Within a short time the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) contacted ResearchGATE to offer their support for the activities of the research group.

A key feature of ResearchGATE is its ability to allow researchers to collaborate more effectively and efficiently over the web. It enables easy document sharing and participation so there is limited confusion on edits and saves time on e-mailing documents back and forth.

Lastly, ResearchGATE’s powerful search engine gives you the semantic advantage when searching. There is not only internal access to the documents other researchers put up on the site but, it also can search externally with access to over 30 million documents publication metadata. In addition, the Similar Abstract Search Engine (SASE) lets you submit an entire abstract and the intelligent design of the search algorithms will bring up relevant and related research, very cool. The search capabilities of the site allow you to easily discover other peoples work and keep track of the research you are most interested in.

Signup is free and most basic services come at no charge and as you know, we like free.

ResearchGATE brings many robust features together in one place and is encouraging more thoughtful and effective collaboration between researchers. We here at Stuff for Starving Students have to wonder are sites like this the next step in the evolution of research? If so, what are the implications of this paradigm shift in communication between researchers? Only time will tell but, it is exciting to see the glimmer of what the future might hold.

Image in post is cc licensed flickr photo shared by pheezy

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Jul 02 2009

It Is Like Progressive, Except For Books!

Have you ever seen those Progressive insurance commercials where they tell you how they let you compare rates with other insurance companies so you know you are getting the best deal?

Well, BookFinder is a tool that allows you to crawl the web and compare prices on books, including textbooks. If you don’t already shop for your textbooks online you should. I very rarely go to the school’s bookstore because I can often find the books I need much cheaper on Amazon, even when the cost of shipping is included. Last semester I did a little cost analysis and realized I saved an astounding 50% by going through online sellers. BookFinder is a simple little tool that helps you find the best price for whatever textbook you need. So quit spending so much money on textbooks and use this search engine. Also, make sure you share the savings love with your fellow starving student friends.

Riverby Bookstore

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Jun 11 2009

Wolfram Alpha: Badass Biker Name or Computational Knowledge Engine?

Biker uploaded by kamshots

As you might have guessed Wolfram Alpha is not a badass biker name (although I think it certainly could be) it is the name of the new computational knowledge engine developed by Wolfram Research. Now at first you might think this is another search engine like the almighty google and who would dare try and encroach on that territory? But it is different from web search engines, Wikipedia gives a quick blurb on what exactly Wolfram Alpha does. It “computes and infers answers and relevant visualizations from a core knowledge base of curated, structured data. Alpha thus differs from semantic search engines, which index a large number of answers and then try to match the question to one.” That is a mouthful I know. Basically WolframAlpha isn’t pulling information from the web like other search engines, but is drawing from an internal knowledge base to answer queries.

So what kind of questions should you even ask this thing? Why not take a look at the Topics Page and you’ll see the power of this engine. WolframAlpha aims to be able to answer any question that can be answered with systematic factual knowledge. So no crazy opinions from some zealot blogger, just the facts ma’am. Now that I think of it “Just the Facts Ma’am” would have been a better title for this blog post and not quite as weird.


I did a quick search of the University of Mary Washington and WolframAlpha provided me with some interesting information. It has a surprising amount of information that I didn’t know was available such as a breakdown of the number of annual degrees awarded by field. While some of the statistics on UMW might not be terribly exciting try searching on something else and be amazed on what kind of stuff you will find. It can tell you what kind of things were happening on your birthday. From the phase of the moon to how many days old you are (according to WolframAlpha I am 7776 days old today!). Go ahead and get familiar with the site (especially you math/science people) because this engine is roaring and ready to get you to the information you need.

Sidebar: I still stand by my assesment that Wolfram Alpha would be a good biker name. Plus Wolfram Alpha is like the Harley Davidsons of computational knowledge engines.

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