Spatial search for data

When you are looking for literature and data the most common method is to search in journal databases, library catalogues, Google scholar and so on, using keywords related to your topic of interest. What if you want to search by a particular location? You may use its name as a keyword, but the results will not be very satisfying.

An alternative, discovered thanks to a friend, is in JournalMap, “a scientific literature search engine that empowers you to find relevant research based on location and biophysical attributes combined with traditional keyword searches”. There are already 18,000 georeferenced papers in their database, and everyone can add more. Through this search engine researchers may look for articles more suited to their needs (there is even an option to filter results by site characteristics), or ‘study of studies’ can be carried out. I strongly support the idea, but unfortunately only when a certain critical mass will be reached the website will be really useful. As a comparison, on Google Scholar there are 43,000 results for ‘Sitka spruce’ (my main species of interest) against only 9 on JournalMap (one uploaded by myself!).

journalmap

Results of a search based on “Sitka spruce”

Similar project is Pangaea, an open access library where raw datasets can be searched through keywords or geographical location. I am finding this idea especially useful in forestry, where one of the main limitations for research are the costs, resources and time needed for data collection. If researchers were more willing to share the original datasets after publishing their articles, even if I reckon they were obtained only after hard and expensive work, it would be a great boost for the forestry sciences. So far, there are only 2 main datasets for ‘Sitka spruce’ related researches.

So please support those projects, upload your papers and datasets, and share similar initiatives!