A Review of F1000
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Andrea C. Kepsel, MLIS, AHIP
Health Sciences Educational Technology Librarian
Michigan State University Libraries

As more and more research is being published in the fields of science and medicine, it can be difficult not only to stay on top of what is being published, but also to discover research from smaller publications or specialized research areas. F1000, from the Science Navigation Group, provides a suite of three tools designed to help users find, share, and use research: F1000Prime, F1000Workspace, and F1000Research. F1000Prime, an article recommendation service, and F1000Workspace, a reference manager, are available together as a subscription, while F1000Research is an open science peer-review publication platform. The three tools complement each other well and, when used together, can improve how users create, evaluate, and interact with scientific information.

F1000Prime is a post-publication peer-review service that provides recommendations and commentary on top articles from over 4,000 journals across 44 disciplines of biology and medicine. The recommendations are provided by the F1000Prime Faculty, peer-nominated leaders in biology and medicine, and include succinct summaries of an article’s key takeaways. Both major and specialist journals are monitored to ensure comprehensive coverage of a discipline, and approximately 80 percent of the papers recommended are published in smaller niche journals. Faculty members assign articles a 1- to 3-star ranking, corresponding to good, very good, or exceptional, respectively. Article rankings are tallied together for total scores that are used to create Top 10 lists in each discipline, as well as a Hidden Jewels list of top articles from more specialized journals. These lists are what make F1000Prime a great tool, especially for new researchers in a field, because they draw attention to articles that may be missed by relying on standard citation metrics that can often be low for publications in smaller, more specialized fields of study.

Searching for article recommendations by key word is easy, and advanced search features allow filtering by publication date, subject area, article type, total score, recommendation history, and whether or not articles have user comments. It is recommended that subscribers register for a free user account to fully experience all features of the platform, including the SmartSearch algorithm that creates a custom homepage that displays relevant articles in a user’s areas of interest. For users who prefer searching for articles in PubMed, the PubMed LinkOut feature can be set up so that articles that have been recommended by the F1000 Faculty link directly to their recommendations on F1000Prime.

F1000Workspace is an online reference manager and scholarly writing tool. It is a cloud-based application that can be used on any device with internet access, and available tools for increased functionality include a browser extension, Microsoft Word plug-in, Google Docs add-on, and desktop app for importing PDFs. Access to F1000Workspace is included with a subscription to F1000Prime and users create a free account that can be used across both services. References can be imported into a user’s library from online sources using the browser extension, directly from imported PDFs or from other popular reference managers such as EndNote or RefWorks. F1000Workspace has robust collaboration features that include sharing of references and annotations with other F1000Workspace users, as well as the ability to share and edit reference lists in Microsoft Word. Organizational features are equally robust and include the ability to create projects and subprojects, record tagging, and activity tracking.

While many of the features of F1000Workspace are similar to those offered by the other major reference managers (EndNote, RefWorks, Mendeley, etc.), a notable feature is the article suggestion capability. Using the same SmartSearch algorithm as in F1000Prime, F1000Workspace evaluates a user’s existing references to suggest other articles that may be relevant. The algorithm is fine-tuned and suggestions improve as a user interacts with suggested articles and chooses whether to add them to a project or discard them. SmartSearch suggestions are also available through the Microsoft Word and Google Doc plug-ins, as well as search options for both PubMed and F1000Prime. The ability for users to search for articles and view suggested ones as they are working on a document enables easy citing without jumping between different programs and disrupting workflow.

Institutional subscriptions for F1000Prime are priced based on the size and type of institution or organization. Individual subscriptions also are available, with discounted subscriptions for students, and a free 30-day trial is provided. Subscriptions include access to F1000Workspace. Subscribing to F1000Prime does not include full-text access to articles, but a wide variety of OpenURL link resolvers are supported, making it easy for libraries to link to content they subscribe to. Detailed support documentation and tutorials are provided online for F1000Prime and F1000Workspace and technical assistance is available via email or a dedicated chat widget built into F1000Workspace.

F1000Research is a peer-reviewed open science publishing platform for research articles, posters, and slides. Over 1,300 institutes are represented on F1000Research, including 94 percent of the top research universities in the U.K., Canada, and Australia. Publication turnaround time is short, typically seven days for articles and one or two days for posters and slides. Upon publication of an article, expert referees are invited to review it and their reviews and names are published along with the article, author responses, comments from F1000Research users, and any revised versions of the article. Upon completion, peer-review articles are indexed in PubMed, Scopus, and Google Scholar. Posters and slides are not peer reviewed, but they are assigned a DOI for easy citing and sharing with others. Article processing charges apply to articles published on F1000Research and are based on the size of the article, but posters and slides are always free. Subscribers to F1000Prime who use F1000Workspace are eligible to publish one short article (less than 1,000 words) free of charge within a year of registering.

F1000Research continues the theme of research discovery through Gateways, personalized portals for institutions or organizations that include links to featured content and other resources. Gateways include information about what they contain and the content undergoes the same editorial checks as other submissions. Since content in a gateway is generally focused on a single overarching theme, it makes it an easy way to view not just articles but also presentations and posters that may otherwise not be easy to find.

F1000 is a unique service that connects readers to the most interesting articles in biology and medicine and is recommended for individuals or institutions that support research in these areas. Because of the focus on biology and medicine, it is of limited value to users outside of these areas at present, but as interest grows, F1000 hopes to expand its scope of coverage into other disciplines. The value of F1000Prime is in the way it highlights articles from niche journals or research areas that otherwise may be missed. F1000Workplace is a powerful reference manager with easy-to-use collaboration features not found in comparable products. F1000Research is a growing open science platform and an easy way for users to broaden the reach of their scholarly research.

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