BioWizard: The start of ‘Digg for Medical Literature’?

THIS is a great application of “social software” to a library’s needs. Library 2.0 gang, please take note.

Via Medlib-L, i just became aware of

…the new portal lets users post comments about any PubMed entry. Visitors rank articles, helping you track down the top work in a particular field…

This is the first application I’ve seen of a really good idea that I’ve been discussing with a few people as inevitable and good, Digg for medical literature.

What is Digg?

Digg is a user driven social content website. Ok, so what the heck does that mean? Well, everything on digg is submitted by the digg user community (that would be you). After you submit content, other digg users read your submission and digg what they like best. If your story rocks and receives enough diggs, it is promoted to the front page for the millions of digg visitors to see.

What can you do as a digg user? Lots. Every digg user can digg (help promote), bury (help remove spam), and comment on stories… you can even digg and bury comments you like or dislike. Digg also allows you to track your friends’ activity throughout the site — want to share a video or news story with a friend? Digg it!

(More on how Digg works at their FAQ)

Why should Librarians care about Digg’s model?
Well, imagine this model applied to medical literature and you have something a lot like BioWizard’s PubMed Wizard. Clinicians collectively make the ‘cream’ of recent literature rise to the top- and this makes for a kind of digital journal club where not every clinician has to read every article in order to find the ones that his/her colleagues or peers find worthwhile.
(Above: Screen capture of BioWizard’s ranking scale)

In addition to the rating of an article, registered users can also “Discuss” an article to make or read notes about it- perhaps explaining why they ranked the article as they did.

Work Still to Be Done
BioWizard is a really great first step, but there are more things it (or similar tools) should do:

  • It should allow the creation and administration of a community within which ratings and comments can be made and aggregated.
    • Perhaps a hospital, medical practice, or department wants to focus on their own internal comunity’s rankings.
    • Perhaps a hospital, medical practice, or department wants to focus on their own internal comunity’s rankings.
    • In a hospital library, library staff could help start and facilitate such digital journal clubs, helping to facilitate delivery of article abstracts (perhaps via RSS?) to the appropriate members of the journal club.
  • BioWizard’s “Discuss” comments do not appear to be searchable. If these cannot be made searchable, perhaps a tagging system would be helpful. I have no desire to start an argument about the value of folksonomies, but consider at least that physicians share a common vocabulary to a much greater extent and in much more consistent practice than a group of Flickr users
  • As much as I appreciate the brilliant use of the PubMed API, It occurs to me that there would be great benefit in adding other sources of medical information to the potential discussion. While we’re at it, why not have a parallel service for consumer health literature?

Why can’t this model be applied to legal literature, or the literature of any academic discipline?

No reason. Not one. Git goin’.

11 thoughts on “BioWizard: The start of ‘Digg for Medical Literature’?

  1. This seems like an extraordinarily useful application. The Family Physicians Inquiries Nework (22 university family medicine departments, 78 residency programs, 85 health sciences librarians) has been developing and using information technology tools to help translate research into practice since 2000, and we have been planning a similar system to BioWizzard. If this works that way I imagine it could work, we don’t need to invest our scare resources, but rather can join this user driven social connection website for selecting and ranking research that represents a priority update source when reviewed in the context of the existing medical literature.

  2. Dr. Ewigman-

    It sounds like BioWizard might be very useful for the purpose you describe, but I think it would work much better for you if you could create a community of reviewers of articles (members of The Family Physicians Inquiries Network) so that members could limit the aggregate rating of any particular article to those ratings and comments that were offered by other members of your community.

    I’d also like to see RSS integration. Imagine that you could assign journals or articles to particular reviewers, and that they would receive links to abstracts automatically via RSS or email (as one can at Imagine how convenient it would be for those recipients to click on a link sent via RSS or email in order to go to BioWizard (or a similar tool) and start entering their ratings and comments.

    Also, it would be great if members of your community could “tag” articles. For instance, they might tag an article as “Policy:FPIN” to make an article they think should be considered when reviewing or riviising policy. This would require, though, that BioWizard make tags or comments searchable.

    Again, I think BioWizard is a great start, but there’s so much more that could be done with this idea to maximize its usefulness for your purposes.



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  4. I found BioWizard, thanks to your website. Upon a recent visit, I must say that I was pretty impressed by it. It applies a Digg style concept to biomedical literature. I think this is really amazing, since users can come to find and submit the best research. You’re able to promote articles and submit your own favorites directly from PubMed. I think it’s great.

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  7. There are a few sites other that try to apply the Digg model to medical news, (but not Pubmed info) such as and

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  10. CiteMD is an online management tool that offers a full reference manager to store, rate, share, annotate and reuse references online. It is free to use, references never expire.

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