Monday, January 7, 2013

Elsevier Acquires Knovel for Smart SciTech Content Aggregation

I've been privileged to know folks at both Knovel and Elsevier for many years, so it's with great pleasure that I read today about Elsevier's acquisition of Knovel. Knovel has been hard at work for the past decade acquiring the rights to a huge corpus of scientific journals, reference data sources and other key publications that it carves up into useful, searchable chunks of knowledge. Need to search for literature on a chemical compound based on its molecular structure? Knovel's got it. Need to explore graphs of viscosity data interactively to think about the properties of a substance? Covered.

Knovel has listened carefully to scientists and other users of scientific reference materials in applied sciences, and continued to refine both the collection and the interface for using its content year after year. Now it has amassed such a wide range of information that's so searchable and usable that it's hard to ignore - and hard to replicate if you want to get into the game of smart content search and aggregation. While Elsevier has been hard at work trying to improve its own content aggregation services, ultimately its efforts have been stymied at the level of how the actual information sources are structured. You can find clever ways to search for journal articles, but at the end of the day, if the journal that you retrieve is still just a paper-formatted heap of words and images, then you haven't necessarily accelerated your subscriber's productivity all that much.

Knovel technologies help to close that productivity gap significantly, enabling people working in applied sciences to consider alternatives more rapidly and to develop innovations more rapidly, instead of having to muck around with journals, spreadsheets and the like. Just point, ciick, calculate automatically and be done with it. Knovel offers one of the very few platforms that really does make significant changes to the formatting and usability of scientific content to the point that it can be more usable and productive content. That makes its extensive library of sources one of the most powerful tools available for scientific content aggregation. For many publishers, Knovel looked like a niche productivity play for many years. Now it's the leading paradigm for the evolving SciTech editorial model. Kudos to Elsevier for jumping on the opportunity - it's a platform that will be a great value leader for years to come.
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