Elsevier launches 2collab

First a disclaimer. I have been playing around with 2collab for some time already since my library is a developing partner for Scopus (Elsevier). My first reaction to the initiative by Elsevier to develop 2collab was a bit hesitant. I agree with David Rothman that there are already plenty (scientific) bookmarking tools available. However none of the exisiting bookmarking tools have satisfied my needs to date. Certainly not del.icio.us, even though I use that quite regularly.

On my Dutch blog I have pleaded a couple of times already for thomson to develop a good hybrid between EndNote (or any other reference manager from their stable) and a bookmarking site like del.icio.us. They have come up with EndNote web, which I consider as a complete disaster. I love the ease of adding bookmarks to del.icio.us, but really need the quality output and versatility for each and any “journal style” to produce a sufficient reference list of bibliographic references and websites alike. 2collab does a fair job at that. It is partly based in ScienceDirect and Scopus as well, and therefore imports easily from those two databases (of course the range of databases needs to e expanded). Apart from that they have those similar buttons which del.icio.us offers to import any websource from your web browser.

On the export site, 2collab shows some above average options as well. Albeit is is not a reference manager formatting for any journal style yet. They offer a RIS export, and that helps a lot. Of course Unalog and CiteUlike does that as well as well. At the end of the day we are therefore still dependent on EndNote (or any other reference manager) for producing the versatile output I need. But I do hope that Elsevier sees here some scope for further development.

Another question is of course the market Elsevier wants to address with a product like this. My impression is that social tools or bookmarking haven’t really taken on at the academy yet. So they are still way ahead of the curve. Interestingly, an investigation at the university of Amsterdam showed that most scientist cared about secrecy more and were not interested in sharing their resources whatsoever.

What I found interesting from the last developments in 2collab that they were expanding the networking opportunities as well. Making groups, adding profile information and sharing information. I know it is contradictory to what they found in Amsterdam, but for our students working in groups it would be a welcome tool. We only have to wait a short while before we will see the integration possibilities with other Open Social applications. I think, and hope.

I see definitely some interesting devlopments going on here. Elsevier 2.0 appears to be somewhere around the corner. They seem to have developed a better, more versatile bookmarking tool than most scientific bookmarking tools too date. If they keep up their commitment, it will be a very interesting tool to watch and play with and a company to watch too.

Some other reviews of 2collab are posted by SciLib and bbgm