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Getting to Chemistry Breakthroughs Faster
Posted on October 17th, 2016 by Thibault Geoui in Chemistry
What matters the most to scientific researchers? While there may be many answers to that question, one that stands out is the ability to better humanity through scientific discovery.
One element of research is finding data and information and deriving insights. However the approach to research is not homogenous across all disciplines of learning. A disease biologist doesn’t just look for different information to a material scientist: they have different ways of constructing queries and need different types of result.
That may seem obvious, but it is worth considering if you’re in the business of facilitating research and empowering discovery. Creating a database of appropriate literature or data points is only a tiny part enabling the job of a researcher. Search methods, preferences for reviewing results, methods of downstream analysis and even searcher familiarity with search strategies have to be taken into account when building a research solution.
Building the right research solution—one that truly meets the needs of the scientists—requires the developers to listen to the end users.
Today, Elsevier launched a new version of the powerful chemistry research solution, Reaxys. Streamlined to ensure that users can quickly start a search and easily refine their results, its development was structured around the requirements of researchers.
The developers became researchers, investigating how and why chemists search for data, literature and patents. They asked what each type of chemist does with the data—what are the calculations they need to perform, what software do they analyze data with?
The findings were clear, chemists want—and need—a quick and responsive solution for data retrieval from full-text literature, including patents. Often this retrieval is time-consuming, other research solutions deliver full-text papers chemists have to read through to find their results. Even with the possibility of retrieving excerpted data points, finding certain properties or reactions have the reputation of being a task that requires considerable search experience.
A major goal achieved with the new Reaxys was to make it possible for every scientist, student and librarian to achieve outcomes normally seen by experienced users of the search tool. Whether they use the natural language- and chemical structure-based Quick Search or the intuitive drag-and-drop Query Builder, beta testers report being able to find what they needed very quickly, even if they’d never used Reaxys before.
Patents are another concern for chemists, in particular patents from the Asian offices, specifically Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China. A staggering 50% of the world’s chemistry research is done in Asia, but only 2% of the patents published there make it into the WO patents. Companies need to keep abreast of new developments to remain competitive in chemistry.
Seeing this need, the developers began an extensive program to add fully indexed and searchable patents from those offices to the new Reaxys. Data is also excerpted from these patents, in keeping with the promise of providing a solution for data retrieval, not just literature retrieval.
Other needs have also been met. A major task for chemists is finding literature, especially during the ideation phase of projects. Therefore, the developers listened to how chemists search for literature and ensured that they could get what they needed.
Computational and medicinal chemists need to use chemical data for in silico profiling workflows. The new Reaxys has additional functionality to better integrate with technological environments, including compatibility with KNIME and Pipeline Pilot, to help those chemists achieve their goals.
The new Reaxys resonated very strongly with beta testers and focus groups. Now the product has launched, all chemists will have the opportunity to test the solution for a period of eight weeks through the ChemSearch Challenge. An online chemistry quiz that allows researchers to test their knowledge and the power of Reaxys at the same time. While the game is a fun way to test the new Reaxys, its ability to help researchers get closer to solving problems faster is invaluable.
All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.
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