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Literature Searches Benefit from Location Tagging
By Rosalie Marion Bliss
October 29, 2014
Conducting literature searches for scientific papers just got more comprehensive, thanks to innovations by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) ecologist Jason Karl and his collaborators have developed a search engine called "JournalMap," which identifies scientific papers of interest by research locations and physical site variables. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.
Articles in the JournalMap citation index are "geotagged" based on locations reported in the study and then plotted on a world map. This means that scientists can use JournalMap to search for environmental literature thematically and geographically by selecting a location on a map.
This new approach to combing through scientific literature can help researchers adapt published research and data for investigations in similar ecosystems where formal studies of environmental parameters are relatively sparse. The environmental factors tagged in JournalMap include a range of weather-related data, landform characteristics, soil characteristics and types of land cover.
Karl and his collaborators are also working with Taylor & Francis, a publisher of over 1,600 journals, to build literature geotagging into the publication process and to enable geographic literature searching across entire journal archives. Initially, this effort focused on geotagging the archives of three journals, including the Journal of Natural History, which has been published since 1838. The partnership now includes geotagging articles automatically when they are submitted for publication and standardizing how locations are reported.
The JournalMap citation index currently contains over 12,000 published papers from around 300 journals with more articles being added on a regular basis. Karl and his collaborators are continuing to refine JournalMap by expanding the content of available journals and papers. Authors and researchers are also able to upload their own geotagged articles to the JournalMap citation index and create their own georeferenced article collections at www.journalmap.org.
Karl works at the ARS Range Management Research Unit in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The researchers published a report on the development of the citation database in BioScience in 2013.
Read more about this work in the October 2014 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.