Multi-disciplinary, multi-institution, collaborative teams are becoming increasingly important in biomedical research. As a result, there have been a number of software programs developed to facilitate scientific collaboration. UMassMed, under the sponsorship of the UMassMed Center for Clinical and Translational Research, has implemented the PROFILES research networking software.
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At UMassMed, PROFILES imports and analyzes “white pages” directory information from HR, publications from PubMed, and web page narratives to create and maintain a complete searchable library of web-based “electronic CVs” and professional networking information. The PROFILES software automatically identifies networks of related people and concepts ("passive" networking). Users can also create "active networks" with specific colleagues. The software has built-in search, network analysis and data visualization tools that allow users to find potential collaborators, discover relationships among individual researchers at different parts of an organization, and analyze the factors that contribute to successful collaboration.
PROFILES uses sophisticated matching algorithms to build a publication history automatically for each researcher in an institution. This "Disambiguation Engine" self-populates the individual researcher overviews in PROFILES, and identifies the specific keywords that characterize each researcher. Faculty (or their proxies) can easily add any missing publications by doing a PubMed search from within PROFILES or manually entering publications that do not exist in PubMed. The Disambiguation Engine learns from these changes to improve the results of the next literature analysis and update.
Profiles includes all faculty members of the medical school and Center for Clinical and Translational Research members from UMass Lowell and UMass Amherst. Center for Clinical and Translational Research members from the other UMass campuses will be added at a later date. Faculty can easily edit their individual profiles, manage bibliographies and even assign proxies.
Future work includes federation of the UMassMed PROFILES system with the other Massachusetts CTSAs (Harvard, BU and Tufts). UMASSMED PROFILES is part of the DIRECT network (http://direct2experts.org/). DIRECT (Distributed Interoperable Research Experts Collaboration Tool) was developed by the national CTSA Research Networking Group. DIRECT is a federated search tool that can query different research networking platforms, including Profiles and other products like VIVO, Elsevier’s SciVal (Collexis), Iowa’s Loki, Stanford’s CAP, and Indiana’s CTSA HUB
1Profiles (http://profiles.catalyst.harvard.edu/) is an open source web-based application for research networking and scientific collaboration developed by Harvard Catalyst, the Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center (HCTSA).
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