And conceptually it's rather interesting - basically take information search and build connections, including researcher linkages between papers based on citations, again using social network style analyses to describe both the connections between bits of research and researchers, allowing one to come up with results such as 'A and B of the School of Z have cited papers O P and Q by G of the school of Y - shouldn't you guys be collaborating?' etc etc - basically computing the entity relationships just as Entity Cube allows the discerning of weak ties.
Why is it valuable? Firstly it allows people to be more productive, and secondly because it actually assess the relevance of research - as in the following crude example:
A researcher publishes a research paper on gut parasite remains in Viking cess pit deposits (and yes, I do know someone who has published such research) and can statistically demonstrate the likelihood of a population being infected with which parasites. An epidemiologist separately looks at the occurrence of gut parasite related diseases in itinerant goat herders in upland Turkey. Bringing the two together could possibly show
- eighth century users of viking privies had a lot to do with goats (or not)
- the expected pattern of diseases has changed over time (or not)
- and if it hasn't changed much a suitable course of treatment for these Turkish shepherds may be valuable to goat herders from Spain to Kazakhstan