A start-up’s perspective on TDM

Mads Rydahl has a small start-up that applies machine learning to scientific publishing. Thanks to their deep partnership with Springer Nature, they can build value added services inside their platform.

“My name is Mads Rydahl, I am one of the two founders of a Danish text mining company called UNSILO. We’re a small start-up, working with applying machine learning to scientific publishing.

We’re in the fortunate position of having a deep partnership with Springer Nature. We’ve worked with them for over three years, to build value added services – as we say in the business – on top of their content. And right now, we’re engaged in a long-term project to build better text understanding and interrogation of content – natural language interrogation.

We actually started out trying to build a portal, a destination site, where a scientist could search. Kind of a competitor to Google scholar. But after a couple of years, we had to abandon that idea, because we couldn’t get access to content. At least not as comprehensive a coverage as is needed to build a service like that.

Eventually we had to pivot into providing our services as components on top of publishers’ platforms. So today, we’re partnering with publishers to provide value inside their platform, rather than outside.

I think one of the most important things is access to content. Open access and the adoption of that in recent years, is doing wonders and making it easier for us to collaborate and find inspiring research to move everything forward.

I have this feeling that we’re going to see a convergence towards intelligent solutions. We’ve been doing a lot of analysis on behavioral data for many years, trying to optimize business processes based on collaborative filtering and showing very popular things to users, because that tends to work and tends to drive business.

I think in the future, our researchers will be having higher demands and they will want more advanced services than just delivering the most popular content. They will want to ask questions, they will want to have their research process augmented with more intelligent tools, that can answer simple questions right off the bat, or lead them to more interesting research questions that can’t be solved automatically.”

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