UCSF collaborations, visualized

UCSF researchers often work closely with one another, across departments. We used data from UCSF Profiles to visualize how different departments work together, based on co-authorship patterns.

Visualization details: Data is drawn from UCSF Profiles, and includes all publications co-authored by current UCSF researchers from two more departments and listed on PubMed. The size of each department corresponds with the number of publications that members have published that include partnerships with other departments. The width of the lines connecting departments corresponds to the number of publications between two departments. Colors indicate clusters of departments that often publish collaboratively, based on network modularity. No scaling is done to account for varying sizes of different departments.

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UCSF internal collaborations, by department, based on publication co-authorship

ORNG at AMIA conference, in tweets

Eric Meeks from CTSI at UCSF presented on ORNG at the AMIA 2013 Joint Summits on Translational Science:





Enhance your research networking platform, the UCSF way

Golden Gate Bridge

CTSI at UCSF has invested in increasing the usage and usability of UCSF Profiles, our research networking system. Based on our presentation at the 2012 IKFC meeting, here are our top 5 technical tips on how to increase the impact of your institution’s investment in research networking platforms, based on our past three years of work.

1. Measure

You can’t understand how you’re doing without measuring usage.

  • Install Google Analytics, then learn how to use this incredibly powerful tool (make sure to segment on-campus vs. off-campus traffic by setting up advanced segments based on service provider)
  • Register your site on Google Webmaster Tools to understand how search engines see your data

2. Optimize for search engines

UCSF Profiles gets over 50,000 visits a month. 72% of that traffic comes from search engines, primarily Google. Here’s how to increase traffic from search engines:

  • Implement a sitemap containing links to all your people profile pages, and make sure Google sees it using Google Webmaster Tools
  • Add a readable meta description (e.g. “Jane Doe’s profile, publications, research topics, and co-authors”) to your profile pages so they look better in search engine results
  • Add Schema.org data about your people on people profile pages
  • Advanced: use rel=canonical to prevent different versions of the same content from being indexed

3. Build inbound links

Linking is a critical way to both increase site traffic, and to signal importance to search engines.

  • Get websites large and small at your institution to link to your site (two years after launch, there are over 100 websites at UCSF that link to one or more pages on Profiles)
  • Encourage heavy linking to individual profile pages, e.g. from the campus directory, news articles, departmental profiles

4. Reuse data

Your research profiling system comes with APIs. Encouraging campus-wide reuse of this data can increase the impact of your investment. See opendata.profiles.ucsf.edu to see how UCSF is marketing this data.

  • Learn how to use your system’s APIs, so you can share that experience with others
  • Publicly document how the APIs work, and include sample source code
  • Reach out to campus technologists and webmasters to demonstrate how easy it is for them to reuse your data (e.g. the inclusion of Profiles data in UCSF’s mobile app was the result of technologist outreach)
  • Reach out to campus leaders to show them what kind of efficiencies they can gain by reusing your data (e.g. the inclusion of links to researcher profiles on the UCSF Directory was the result of a strategic partnership)

5. Extend with ORNG (advanced)

ORNG (OpenSocial Research Networking Gadgets) is a plugin system that allows you to add new apps into instances of Profiles or VIVO. Apps are written in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and are easy to share and reuse.

  • Install ORNG (OpenSocial) into your copy of Profiles or VIVO
  • Add new apps from the ORNG library of free apps
  • Write your own apps — most JavaScript programmers can get started in hours

Good luck! Feel free to leave comments and questions on this post—we’re happy to share what we know.

P.S. Thinking about how to make your campus equipment/services more discoverable? Try UCSF’s Plumage, the open source platform behind UCSF Cores Search.

Photo credit: digitonin via photopin cc

Social Networks for Academics Proliferate, Despite Some Scholars Doubts

Here’s an article with an overview of online products out there for research social networking;  the big gap in the article is that no institutional products are included such as Profiles, VIVO, etc. This is noted in one of the comments at the end, by Titus Schleyer.

That aside, there are interesting opinions in this piece, a few clipped below, and perhaps pointing to the current status of the space,  where the sweet spot has not yet been found.  

“After six years of running Zotero, it’s not clear that there is a whole lot of social value to academic social networks,” says Sean Takats, the site’s director, who is an assistant professor of history at George Mason University. “Everyone uses Twitter, which is an easy way to pop up on other people’s radar screens without having to formally join a network.” 

Scholars aren’t interested in sharing original ideas on such sites, [Christopher Blanchard, an adjunct professor of community and regional planning at Boise State University] now believes, “because they’re afraid they’ll be ripped off” and because they simply don’t have the time.

“We have thousands of new discussions taking place every day—scientists helping scientists without getting anything for it,” [Dr. Madisch, of ResearchGate] says. “Three years ago, people were smiling at me and saying that scientists aren’t social. They won’t share information. They were wrong.”

Social Networks for Academics Proliferate, Despite Some Scholars Doubts – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Using Research Networking Effectively in Academia: UCSF-CTSI Team Presents On National AMIA Panel

Three of us from the Virtual Home team at CTSI went to this year’s AMIA (American Medical Informatics Assoc) meeting in DC and presented on a panel with Griffin Weber of Harvard University. The panel was called “Four Steps to Using Research Networking Effectively at Your Institution”

Griffin spoke on cutting edge features of research networking tools, such as linked open data and social network analysis.

Eric Meeks of UCSF spoke on standard APIs, such as OpenSocial, to leverage a community of developers, I spoke about incentivize usage and understand your audience, and to round it out, Brian Turner spoke about using data, tools and strangers to improve user interfaces.

The panel presentation was a 90 minute break out session and we were happy to have a good turnout and an engaged audience. I think that the work that UCSF has put into the ‘social engineering’ of the tool has really paid off. Our usage and engagement numbers are on the rise and comparatively speaking, Griffin mentioned that our traffic is about 5-times that of what Harvard Profiles is currently getting.

In addition, Eric also had a poster session at the meeting!

The UCSF presentations will be up on Slideshare, available on the CTSI channel and via our individual UCSF profiles:


Notes from the 2011 Medicine 2.0 Summit at Stanford

Some argue that as technology advances it turns into a barrier and prevents essential human interactions, such as at the bedside. Even though this is a concern that we need to address, the Medicine 2.0 Summit 2011 provided a lot of examples that showed how technology can turn into a powerful mediator.

For those interested who did not get the chance to attend the event, here is a list of the main topics and initiatives presented that use social media, mobile computing applications, as well as Web 2.0 in healthcare and medicine to create new ways for people to connect. Please feel free to add your impressions and ideas of the summit and conference. Thanks!

1. If you are interested in learning from ePatients on how to build and leverage communities of practice and participatory medicine, you might want to explore the following blogs and platforms: 

  • Amy Tenderich’s blog Diabetesmine.com,
  • SmartMobs, authored by Howard Reingold, who was diagnosed with colon cancer and shared his experience on a blog called Howard’s Butt
  • PatientsLikeMe, where more than 115,000 members with over 1,000 conditions share their experiences to see what interventions are working for others

2. Patients have been connecting for some time. However, how can we help connect physicians and patients in a meaningful way? During the session “The Healthcare Transformers”, the panelists presented their views on personalizing healthcare and new ways for physicians and patients to communicate. 

  • Jay Parkinson, founder of HelloHealth and Futurewell, shared his passion about using creative design to improve health — and a few critical lessons learned (including” innovation is lonely” and “colleagues are critics”) as he and colleagues opened a “virtual clinic”, a “web-based patient communication, practice management and electronic health record in one solution”.
  • Lee Aase from the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media gave a very entertaining talk on social media in the spirit of “Suus non ut Difficile” (It’s not that hard).  See one of their latest success stories: “When Patients Band Together – Using Social Networks To Spur Research for Rare Diseases”. They are very proactive about arming their health care professionals with the right tools to leverage social media for their successful communication. They even started a “Social Media Residency”. Aase also introduced the Social Media University, Global (SMUG), a post-secondary educational institution dedicated to providing practical, hands-on training in social media to lifelong learners.
  • Bryan Vartabedian, pediatric gastroenterologist, writes an interesting blog 33charts  about “the convergence of social media and medicine”.
  • Wendy Sue Swanson, practicing pediatrician, mother, and author of SeattleMamaDoc, walks a fine line and shares resources and methods that she learns from her patients, friends and family, both in and out of the field of medicine. She applies the concept of storytelling to achieve her goal of helping parents decipher some of the current medical news.
  • Ron Gutman, founder and CEO of HealthTap , who we wrote about in our earlier post, presented his solution to ending health care communication in silos. Some of the latest updates include 1) peer review features which will help give great questions more weight in the HealthTap environment, 2) offering a mobile solution, and 3) allowing participating doctors to be notified of questions coming from local patients.

3. “The Knowledge Revolution”: If you are interested in using innovations in Medical Education, you might find the following projects of interest:

  • Bertalan Mesko from Webicina.com provides curated medical social media resources in over 80 medical topics in over 17 languages to help patients and medical professionals access the most relevant social media content in their own languages on a customizable, easy-to-use platform for free.
  • Parvati Dev from Clinispace presented their virtual, 3D virtual training environment for healthcare professionals where learners can practice on realistic virtual medical scenarios and recover safely from errors.

4. The panel on  “The Interconnected Life” discussed social tools and platforms such as Epocrates, Google Correlate, which finds search patterns which correspond with real-world trends, and Quora.

5. During the panel “The New Scientist”, Michael Conlon presented VIVO , an “open source semantic web application”, a tool that is – like Profiles, Loci and others –  used or being implemented by universities across the nation to enable and support scientific collaborations and expertise discovery. 

  • Jan Reichelt, Co-Founder and President at Mendeley, talked about how the tool, a free reference manager and academic social network, helps investigators organize their research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research.
  • Peter Bienfield from PlosOne reminded us that most of the 1.5 Million papers published every year are still “closed access”. However, as established publishers experiment with “open access”, e.g.,  Sage Open , BMJ Open , Biology Open ,and Scientific Reports ,  they validate the model…
  • And, David Pescovitz explained how he is looking for “signals” to identify far-out ideas. He is editor for Boing Boing and MAKE as well as research director with the Institute for the Future.

6. Dennis Boyle, IDEO Founding Member and Partner, gave an interesting closing keynote on “design thinking” and “a human-centered approach to innovation.” He highlighted some of their recent projects… worth exploring….

 More information: