When it comes to innovation monitoring, it is not always easy for researchers to make way through all the scientific and technical resources.
Having easy and a fast access to the scientific and technical information is one of the main challenges. It will allow ensuring the establishment of an ongoing scientific monitoring process throughout all the product lifecycle.
Indeed, in increasingly competitive industrial markets, being able to quickly innovate and adapt to changes are key success factors. Accessing the right information at the right time in complex and interconnected ecosystems is, therefore, one of the main concerns of the R&D and IP departments.
So, every click of the mouse, every search box, needs to work hard to make the best use of a researcher’s time.
For each resource discovered, there may be a dozens of abandoned web pages, armies of half-read abstracts, and false leads.
Knowing how and where to find resources is vital to saving time, quickly achieve the results that matter and adapt to rapid market changes.
One of the best ways for researchers to optimize their monitoring and avoid fastidious compilations of data is to go for a specific search engine or database. But how to choose the best tool?
Here we outline the main components every researcher should consider before going for a solution:
1 / Define your need first!
It is crucial to define your need. If you want to obtain a global vision of innovation activity around a specific research topic, your need will not be the same as if you want to make a state of the art of technologies developed around this topic. In the first case, you will need to make a global « screening » of scientific and technological information thanks to the analysis of different types of works (articles, conference proceedings, publications, theses, journals, patents, projects, clinical trials etc.). In the second case, you will need to have access to all patents and publications. Framing your needs will guide you to find the most suitable solution.
Of course, there are some limitations to keep in mind. No database or search engine is exhaustive! Scientific research produces and publishes huge volumes of data, i.e., 2.2 million of scientific articles in 2016 according to the AJE report, and 3.127 million patent applications in 2017 according to WIPO. Therefore, it is essential to cross certain tools to perfect your studies.
2 / Verify if the scientific and technological data have a multisectoral scope
Does this solution allow me to access different scientific fields?
The more the solution covers different scientific areas, the more it will allow you to deepen your research and to go beyond the boundaries of your own field of expertise.
Whether you’re looking for new applications, finding new skills, or speeding up your search, the size of the scope of the scientific domain covered by the database will present wider chances to open your research to more opportunities.
3 / Learn more about the number and validity of data sources
Does the database of scientific documents on which the solution is based on, aggregate different sources of data? If yes, are these sources verified and qualified by an authority or community? Is the information structured? Is it accurate? Is the information current? What is the reputation of the author? etc.
A solution allowing you to launch queries from different data sources and aggregating different types of scientific works will offer you the opportunity to optimize and save time in your searches.
However, it is essential to be interested in the validity of data sources to not base your choices on wrong information.
This type of verification process is an intrinsic part of the researcher’s work. Even if the reliability of the source seems to be good, the scientific community invites researchers to make counter-studies. Over the past few year researchers point the unbridled publication race and question the “impact factor”(The Impact factor is the index that measures the popularity of an article by the number of citations by other researchers).
4 / Ask about the freshness of the data
What is the publication date of the scientific and technological works reported by the solution?
The freshness of data is important to capture an accurate overview of the situation at a precise time and make the right decisions. A combination of « old » and « new data » is necessary to generate useful information, ie. as being able to follow patent evolutions, capturing all the researches conducted by an expert or accessing the different clinical trial phases, etc.
However, it will be necessary to take into account the obsolescence of the data and the period of latency between the writing of a scientific article and its publication. Consequently, the update frequency is also an important criterion to take into account when choosing your solution .
5 / Put a specific attention into the data analysis and standardization of the search engine or the database in question.
Is the data structured to do a semantic search? Is it possible to organize my searches by scientific domains or to select specific search fields (ie. by geographical zones or type of scientific works etc.)?
« Semantics change the way the engine understands our way to seek for information, and then transform the way it understands the information stored in its search index. »* The semantic research aims to improve the research understanding by analyzing data and extracting the most relevant answers.
A solution with semantic search will allow you to refine your query and obtain more targeted results.
6 / Navigate into the interface in order to understand the ergonomic aspects (navigation, reading results)
Even if the ergonomics of the solution are not the first element to take into account when choosing this type of solution, it can be real criteria for improving productivity. The easiness of the platform use will help to maximize the learning time to take in hand the solution and improve its level of adoption. The interface and its design contribute to the general solution apprehension.
It is also important to give particular attention to the results transcribing and formatting and determining whether or not they facilitate the reading and the comprehension.
7 / Knowledge management and collaborative features
Once the results are found it is important to be able to capitalize on the knowledge acquired. Whether it is to transmit the information or to avoid launching the same searches twice, it can be interesting to wonder if the solution proposes features to stock and manage the information (ie. save, export, share functions). This allows gaining in productivity, to avoid mistakes, and to easily train new users.
Collaborative features (ie. shared file, comments, notifications etc.) can also be taken into account if you and your team are working on same projects.
8 / What about the accessibility?
Is the solution available in SaaS mode or do I need to install it on my own DataCenter?
With SaaS software, the hardware acquisition cost as well as the procurement and maintenance costs, the software licensing, the installation and support are eliminated*. The solution is accessible via the Internet from any connected device and from any geographical position.
On the other side, the installation on a DataCenter can present a safer aspect. The data and their use are secured by the client company itself and are not accessible from outside.
9 / Customization
Customer expectations in terms of experience personalization are higher and higher.
Now, companies have to be able to anticipate their customers’ needs by adapting features, content, and interactions to faster help them achieve their goals; individually and in real time. The objective: providing a clearer offer and a direct access to relevant information.
Whether it is through the search modes or customization of the results interface, the integration of specific data or customized references, contextual analytics via the analysis of scientific and technological information etc. the users want to go further in this personalization, by living a unique experience allowing them to quickly respond to each of their individual challenges.
Some of the solutions have already understood this need and start to offer customized work environments allowing the user to be more inspired while working. There are « recommendation search engines » that serve as a guide for searches or alert options.
Semantic search : https: //la-cascade.io / quest-what-the-looking-semantic