Animesh Pathak's Crazy Ideas

Thursday, April 24, 2008

One way to cite them all

Being a researcher, I am always on the lookout of new work by fellow researchers. To that end, each of us usually "knows" who else is working in the area (people we have met in conferences, groups recommended by our advisors, researchers found on google). And we visit their websites once, reading their work, and trying to make sure that our own is a bit different :).

Invariably, the submission time of a new paper is a time of tension. Do all my experimental results look right? Did I polish the text enough? And finally, did I consult and cite all the work of the guys who matter? [don't believe me? see this for reference]

So one goes on the google process again, scouring through well and ill-maintained university websites, google, scholar, citeseer, imdb, you know... the works.

Wouldn't it be nice if there was a service that would let you know whenever a new paper had been published by someone whose papers you are interested in? Note that checking their websites on a daily basis is not a good idea, since I might be interested in a HUGE number of researchers, and they might publish only sporadically.

And that pattern led to think of all my friends who maintain non-regularly-updated blogs. Back in the day, it was a pain to check their blogs once in a while, but since I started using Google Reader, I don't need to do it anymore. If there is a new post on Joie-de-vivre, I would know, thanks to the magic of RSS/ATOM feeds.

So, without further ado, here is my new crazy idea. Create a new site [or downloadable software for a site, kinda like wordpress], where:
  • each researcher has a login
  • when a paper is accepted/published, they can fill in a simple form, essentially the contents of a BibTeX entry, and upload/link to a PDF/PS copy of their paper
  • each user gets a unique url for their "paper feed", which they can then publish prominently on their websites, encouraging others to subscribe to it. There can even be different feeds for each "track" the user publishes in, and each paper can belong to multiple tracks
  • when a new paper is published, the site/software automatically creates a nicely formatted feed entry, which the subscribers' readers can pick up. It can even create a BibTeX entry :)
Now, I am sure there are similar things around, and there are researchers who publish an RSS feed of their work, but nothing mainstream that I have come across.

Google, Citeseer, Arxiv, facebook, are you listening?

So... dear readers, what say? Kaisa laga mera naya idea?