SciLink: Science Meets Facebook

Whether you're in academics or industry, a big part of being a scientist is getting your work noticed by other scientists. In years past, scientists relied on subscription-only services such as Chemical Abstracts Service and Science Citation Index. But these services are starting to show their limitations, particularly with respect to being able to sell their products at an affordable price. Can you afford to trust this important part of your scientific career to companies with broken business models?

Enter SciLink, a service that could end up doing for science what Facebook has done for college campuses. Search for a scientist's name and get a (partial) list of their publications along with a list of other scientists they've worked with as co-authors. No small database, SciLink already contains information on 5.8 million scientists. Although you can create your own user profile after registering, you're probably already in SciLink courtesy of its creative use of PubMed bibliographical information.

It's not clear what the future holds for SciLink. One thing is certain: free services like SciLink can be expected to proliferate over the next few years as cost squeezes and technological advances continue to take their toll on the established scientific information industry.