SPARC Japan NewsLetter No.12 コンテンツ特集記事トピックス活動報告

Takanori Hayashi
(Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Research Information Technology Center)


I had an opportunity to attend the 2nd SPARC Japan Seminar 2011, “Workshop for Contemporary Reference Management Tools,” held on Tuesday, December 6, 2011, at the National Institute of Informatics. The workshop turned out to be a valuable occasion to learn about and compare four reference management tools, namely, EndNote and RefWorks, both of which are already used by many researchers, Mendeley, a rapidly growing platform that offers social network functions, and TogoDoc which is specialized in the field of medical biology and capable of supporting links to PubMed and article recommendation services.

Since presentation materials, video recordings from the seminar, and participants’ feedback are published on SPARC Japan’s website,1 I will refrain from going into details about each of these tools. Instead, I will provide my thoughts based on what I gathered from presentations and subsequent questions and answers. I would like to also recommend readers to refer to a roundup of tweets2 made by audience at the seminar including me.

The workshop consisted of two parts. In the first part, each of the four tools was presented and explained, while the second part was dedicated to the discussion under the theme of “Let’s Use Reference Management Tools,” which was designed to enable comparison of the four tools. Attention was focused particularly on Mendeley. Dr. Victor Henning, CEO of Mendeley Ltd., travelled all the way to Japan to present the product himself.

A typical conclusion derived after looking at each of the four reference management tools would be that which one to use should be decided as appropriate depending on time and occasion. They have no difference in the basic functions expected of reference management tools. That is, they can search reference databases, import and manage journal information, and output lists of references for articles being authored in a designated format. They are also capable of exchanging journal information in standard file formats. Other general factors taken into consideration in selecting a reference management tool include: whether the service is charged or not, whether the application is for installation into desktop or can be used only on the web, what are the differences in its functions or interface design.

However, what has struck me most is Dr. Henning’s response to the question regarding functional comparison. Dr. Henning said what is important is, not what functions it offers, but whether it is fun to use. Mendeley, as he put it, is a fun-to-use tool that makes it easier for researchers to share information.

As research themes continue to grow in diversity and complexity, researchers from different fields are compelled to work together in joint research. Based on its enormous pool of scholarly reference information, Thomson Reuters enables researchers to publish their articles and offers inter-researcher communication tools as seen in ResearcherID. Meanwhile, RefWorks offers literature sharing functions. What we see today is the evolution of reference management tools into sharing tools and then into communication tools. Mendeley has enabled researchers to build their social networks by linking users based on accumulated reference metadata. Meanwhile, TogoDoc has made it easier to search authors relevant to a specific field of interest by offering highly precise recommendation services, and effectively, such function can be utilized as a communication tool. Speaking in the context of Web2.0 which was extremely popular at one point in time, we can call it a “service that has been enabled by accumulated collective intelligence.”

As such, each of the four tools originated from an attempt to improve the efficiency of research by enabling the efficient management of research papers. Coming into sight beyond that goal is a new concept to support, by means of digitalization, fundamental activities necessary for research and development for collaboration and information sharing, though in a different approach. Mendeley and TogoDoc are a step ahead. However, many of those accustomed to EndNote and RefWorks, in terms of operation, support, and so forth, would not be ready to let them go. Then, in this case, what factors are considered as important? Prioritizing fun-to-use features over multi-functionality reminds me of the difference between Japanese smartphones and iPhones in the Japanese market.

It came as a surprise to me that concepts such as this and collective intelligence have entered into the field of academic research. At the same time, it makes me wonder which factor is given priority in practical research activities. As a librarian, one of those on the side of providing services to researchers, I left the workshop feeling I have been given new assignments at the workshop.



1. SPARC Japan, “Workshop for Contemporary Reference Management Tools in the 2nd SPARC Japan Seminar 2011,” National Institute of Informatics (Ref. 2012-01-23)
2. tzhaya, “Summary of Workshop for Contemporary Reference Management Tools in the 2nd SPARC Japan Seminar 2011.” (Ref. 2012-01-23)


Workshop Co-organized by Project Euclid and the Mathematical Society of Japan, and Supported by SPARC Japan


The Mathematical Society of Japan and Project Euclid, an online publishing platform operated jointly by the Cornell University Library and the Duke University Press for scholarly journals in the field of mathematics and statistics, will jointly organize a workshop on Monday, March 26, 2012, at the Tokyo University of Science, inviting Project Euclid members as speakers.

The workshop will focus on challenges and possibilities faced by those engaged in mathematical journal publishing, in particular, academic societies, scholarly associations, and scholarly journal publishers. Themes to be taken up include current publishing practices and initiatives, marketing and public relations, transition from print to electronic publishing, journal production strategies, and new business models. The workshop program will be divided into four sessions. Society publishers and practitioners will speak from their respective perspectives, have intensive discussions, and exchange opinions on the current publishing practices and initiatives, transition to electronic publishing, and business models in the field of scholarly publishing. Issues and topics to be discussed will be of interest not only to people associated with the field of mathematics but also those from other fields. Everyone will be welcome to participate in the workshop. Admission is free and no prior reservation is necessary.

Workshop on Mathematics Publishing
Date and time: Monday, March 26, 2012 (9:00–18:00)
Venue: Tokyo University of Science (TUS), Kagurazaka Campus Room 842 (4th floor of No. 8 Building)


Outline of schedule
9:00 Introduction and Overview of Workshop
Mira Waller, Project Euclid Manager
9:15–10:40 Presentations on current publishing practices as seen from the side of academic societies
David Ruddy, Director of Scholarly Communications Services, Cornell University Library, Project Euclid; Don McClure, Executive Director, American Mathematical Society; Yoshio Tsutsumi, Professor, Kyoto University, representing Mathematical Society of Japan; and Chang-Ock Lee, Vice President, Korean Mathematical Society; Susan Hezlet, Publisher, London Mathematical Society.
11:15–13:00 Presentations on current publishing practices as seen from the side of publishers
Mira Waller, Project Euclid; Kunimochi Sakamoto, Managing Editor, Hiroshima Mathematical Journal; Ken-ichi Shinoda, Managing Editor, Tokyo Journal of Mathematics; Masanori Ishida, Managing Editor, Tohoku Mathematical Journal; and Nobuhiro Innami, Editor-in-Chief, Nihonkai Mathematical Journal.
14:00–15:55 Journal Publishing Essentials
Erich Staib, Senior Editor, Duke University Press; David Ruddy, Project Euclid; Tetsuji Miwa, Managing Editor, Kyoto Journal of Mathematics; Masakazu Suzuki, Professor, Kyushu University, ISIT, and Director, Science Accessibility Net.
16:00–17:30 Business Models for Scholarly Publishing
Mira Waller, Project Euclid; Jun Adachi, Professor and Director of Cyber Science Infrastructure Development Department, National Institute of Informatics; Takao Namiki, Associate Professor, Hokkaido University Graduate School; and Koichi Ojiro, Director, Library Liaison Office, National Institute of Informatics.
17:40 Closing remarks
David Ruddy, Project Euclid

* SPARC Japan supports the Business Models for Scholarly Publishing session (16:00–17:30).

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