Where next for UK PubMed Central?

What do UK researchers want from UKPMC, their free archive of full-text journal articles? That was the subject of a meeting today at the Wellcome Trust in London. Launched a year ago, UKPMC has become established as a part of the national research infrastructure but as with all online projects the scope for enhancement is ever present.

Proceedings were kicked off by introductory talks from three luminaries – Biomed Central’s publisher Matt Cockerill talked about the state of commercial Open Access publishing; our own Timo Hannay talked about Web 2.0; and Deitrich Rebholz-Schuhmann (EBI) and Sophia Ananiadou (U Manchester) talked about text mining and semantic enrichment of scientific literature. Their presentation slides will be going online at UKPMC soon, I gather, and are worth a look.

Discussion groups then pondered the question about priorities for further UKPMC development. Three broad areas were put forward to focus us all: adding in Web 2.0 community participation, adding in new content types, and adding in new user services. Discussions were lively and good natured — it was put to me that Nature could delete practically its entire back catalogue of supplementary data files and nobody would notice. (I took it as only partly a joke.)

Lots of ideas were put up. “Add information about grants (awarded or available)”. “Provide machine-generated summaries of the facts contained in articles” (in case you don’t trust the authors’ abstracts). “If it’s linkable, link it”. One idea that seemed to get universal support was providing citation analysis (such as citation rates; forward citation linking).

I could give you more of a synopsis of the ideas and how they went down, but that would spoil the fun: the organizers want others to slip in their thoughts via a short online survey form, and a summary report will be put up on the UKPMC website in due course.

I have only one complaint – that my meeting badge wasn’t enough to get me in to see the 7 storey high “molten metal” sculpture in the sister building next door. Maybe next time.


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