Wednesday, April 11, 2012

'Enriching' Open Access articles

I've been asked what the relevance is of my previous post to Open Access. The relevance of Utopia Documents to Open Access may not be immediately clear, but it is certainly there. Though Utopia Documents doesn't make articles open that aren't, it provides 'article-of-the-future-like' functionality for any PDFs, OA or not. It opens them up in terms of Web connectivity, as it were, and it is completely publisher-independent. So PDFs in open repositories – even informal, author-manuscript ones – and from small OA publishers can have the same type of functionality that hitherto only larger publishers could afford to provide, and then only for HTML versions of articles.

PDFs are often getting a bad press, as you probably know, yet according to statistics from many publishers, PDFs still represent by far the largest share of scientific article downloads. PDFs have great advantages, but until now, also disadvantages relative to HTML versions, particularly with regard to the latter's Web connectedness (this – open – article is worth reading: This digital divide, however, has now been bridged! The Utopia Documents PDF-viewer is built around the concept of connecting hitherto static PDFs to the Web, and it bridges the 'linkability gap' between HTML and PDF, making the latter just as easily connected to whatever the Internet has on offer as the former (as long as you are online, of course).

The new – wholly renewed – version (2.0) of the Utopia Documents scientific PDF-viewer has now been released. It is free and downloads are currently available for Mac and Windows (and a Linux version is expected soon). Version 2.0 automatically shows Altmetrics (see how the article is doing), Mendeley (see related articles available there), Sherpa/RoMEO (check its open archiving status), etcetera, and connects directly to many more scientific and laboratory information resources on the Web, straight from the PDF.

Utopia Documents allows you, if you so wish, to experience dynamically enriched scientific articles. Articles from whichever publisher or OA repository, since Utopia Documents is completely publisher-independent, providing enrichment for any modern PDF*, even 'informal' ones made by authors of their manuscript (e.g. via 'Save as PDF') and deposited in institutional repositories.

'Enrichment' means, among other things, easy Web connectivity, directly from highlighted text in the PDF, to an ever-expanding variety of data sources and scientific information and search tools. It also means the possibility to extract any tables into a spreadsheet format, and a 'toggle' that converts numerical tables into easy-to-read scatter plots. It means up-to-date Altmetrics, whenever available, that let you see how articles are doing. It means a comments function that lets you carry out relevant discussions that stay right with the paper, rather than necessarily having to go off onto a blog somewhere. It means being able to quickly flick through the images and illustrations in an article. It means that existing PDFs from whatever source are 'converted', as it were, on-the-fly, to what some publishers call 'articles of the future'. (The original PDF is in no way altered; the 'conversion' is virtual).

With Utopia Documents, publishers, repositories, libraries, even individuals with PDFs on their personal sites, can offer enriched scientific articles just by encouraging their users to read PDFs with the free Utopia Documents PDF-viewer, and so get more out of the scientific literature at hand than would otherwise be possible. Utopia Documents is indeed truly free, and not even registration is needed (except for adding comments).

Utopia Documents is usable in all scientific disciplines, but its default specialist web resources are currently optimised for the biomedical/biochemical spectrum.

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