<p>Knimbus, an India-based global search and collaboration platform for researchers, is set to offer its services in foreign varsities.
A platform that connects creators and users of scientific, technical and medical knowledge to online content and peer groups, Knimbus is in the process of extending services to institutes in the United States and some European countries. It has also tied up with a partner in Germany and is in the process of forging ties with about 25 universities in Bangladesh.
Knimbus was co-founded by Rahul Agarwalla and Tarun Arora in November 2010, and the service went live in September 2011. Its service has been subscribed by more than 450 research and academic institutions in India, including all the Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institutes of Management, Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research, state and central universities, and government institutions such as Council of Scientific and Industrial Research labs, and Defence Research and Development Organisation.
The Knimbus technology platform offers researchers/users a single window for real-time search across millions of articles, books and patents. Apart from facility to share articles and tags, the platform gives an opportunity to create shared projects, and build profiles and peer networks.
“With the second-largest population, India contributes only 2.2 per cent to the total population of researchers, which makes it a country with one of the least number of researchers per million among developing nations. Understanding the seriousness of the issue, we decided to launch the Knimbus platform that provides the requisite infrastructure — that aims to boost India’s research output,” said Agarwalla, chief executive and co-founder of the portal.
Engineering and technology-related research information is the most popular, according to Agarwalla. Apart from the 450 research and academic institutions, few corporates have also subscribed to the service. While institutes/corporates have to pay a fee for access to information, it is free for the student community.
When an individual from an institute registers, he is offered two types of content — free content from open sources and commercial or subscribed content. Based on the commercial content, subscribed by the university/institute the individual belongs to, the results show up. The platform is customised for each institution, so that users are able to access content sources subscribed by the institution.
The platform offers features like one-stop research hub, where users can access and discover trusted and credible information through institutionalised libraries, subscribed resources and other web and open source content. Collaboration with colleagues and other researchers to build collective intelligence and insight is also possible through the portal. Researchers can also use the platform to tag information and comment on peer information.
Though there are options like Google Scholar available for research content, Agarwalla said they offered lesser content than Knimbus. Google Scholar is a free web engine that indexes the full text of scholarly literature and journals. “The results that you would get in Google Scholar after you type in a search may be noisy from a user’s perspective, but since the results are not customised as per user specifications, one may not be able to get access to the documents cited in the search results. The engine is not aware whether you have access to the content listed in the results (some of which may be purely on subscription basis),” he said. Thus, a scholarly publication may show in the results page, but one may not be able to gain access to it.
A researcher needs to find relevant content in a limited time, and reads and cross-refers to nearly 280 articles a year. To enhance research capabilities, a researcher needs to collaborate with peers.
This is a trend that has been on the rise as witnessed by the rise in domestic and international co-authorship — which has risen from less than 35 per cent to over 60 per cent in the last two decades, according to data available with Knimbus.
The platform would be revamped in June to be closer to the Web 2.0 version. Knimbus is planning to add features where one can upload his scholarly content on the portal and get feedback from others. “We are constantly innovating as per user needs and requirements,” said Agarwalla.