UU Innovation

ResearchMate ends literature chaos

2016-02-01

More order, less chaos. That’s the idea behind ResearchMate, a new web-based tool developed by researchers at Uppsala University. In a simple and user-friendly way, ResearchMate helps researchers sort through and organise the enormous amount of digital texts they have to deal with every day.

“We researchers are expected to be very effective, writing numerous good-quality articles not only for our own merit but also to help fund our collective pursuits. But many of us experience chaos, both in handling and processing texts as well as in synchronising and storing files on computers, tablets and hard-drives. This situation we intend to change”, says Carina Carlhed, assistant professor in education and founder of ResearchMate. Her team also includes media producer Simon Ydhag and system developer Ahsan Shaszad, both university employees.

Carina Carlhed, educational sociologist and assistant professor in education.

Some researchers have to handle thousands of texts a year. During her many years in research, Carina herself spent time searching for a useful tool in the jungle of software available, without finding anything that was sufficiently simple and user-friendly. User-manuals were often thick, for example, making it hard to get to grips with how everything worked.

“We wanted an intuitive system that simply helps users systematically handle and store their read and unprocessed files, and gain a better overview of both. ResearchMate’s vision is to give users the feeling of complete control over their workflow”, continues Carina, “in other words that ‘here I sit in peace and quiet with my texts’ sensation”.

Independent of operating system or device

Part of the team’s idea is that texts and reference literature can be also shared with others within, for example, research groups, or between supervisors and doctoral students. ResearchMate is not tied in to any particular field of study, but can be used by everyone. Furthermore, the system features built-in cloud storage, so that users can read and process texts regardless of device, which makes it suitable for all types of operating systems and devices; computers, tablets and smart phones.

“Many people need to structure their literature activities. Smart technology reduces the amount of information that needs to be handled and helps extract ‘the most important points’ from the text. The gains are improved order and greater efficiency, thereby releasing more time and energy for other tasks”, emphasises Carina Carlhed.

In Sweden alone, we find about 400,000 students in basic education. In addition, 60,000 are active as researchers while 17,000 are involved in post-graduate studies. But the market for ResearchMate is global. And it is not just scientists who are the intended users. Other professionals who manage large amounts of digital text, such as investigators, analysts and journalists, will also enjoy its many helpful functions.

“In a very simple but ingenious manner, we meet a need that exists worldwide. It feels very cool to have got this far, and soon our product is ready to launch”, concludes Carina proudly.