Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Live From Seattle - ADS Gets an Update

Today the big talks at the AAS were mostly about cosmology, pulsars, and other things that as far as I know were not hot news, but I did find out about one great new thing:  ADS is getting a facelift.  For those of you that don't use it religiously, NASA and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory have for the past 20 years run the Astrophysical Data System, which is an online library for publications in astronomy and astrophysics.  ADS is an invaluable resource for those of us in the astrophysical community, but it also has had the same search interface for the past 20 years.  For those of you that remember searching online in the 90's, the search interface may cause post-traumatic flashbacks.
If you just had a flashback to Lycos, click here and take a good hard look.

So what does the new ADS look like?  Here's the search interface:
Note that like almost all search engines of the past decade they've gone to a single entry box capable of accepting anything from keywords to author names to publication dates.  They've also added six default search modes.  Three just make sense (sort by date, relevance, or citation count) and three are new and very handy (sort by popularity, most referenced, and those most instructive).  The popular option returns those entries with the most recent traffic, the most referenced returns the papers most cited by the most relevant papers, and the most instructive option returns those papers that are most cited by the most cited papers - which is a clever way to favor review articles.

Let's try searching for review articles about the solar dynamo and see how it does.
The results look great.  I have read and highly recommend all but entry #5 as quality reviews of the source of solar magnetic fields - and even though I wasn't previously familiar with entry #5 a quick look leads me to think the problem is with me and not ADS.

Overall, I give the new version of ADS two big thumbs up.  Check it out.


  1. Very nice. There is still one thing I *really* like about Spires and that is that it will print out the proper citation for Latex, bibtex, Harvmac, etc... so you can just cut and paste it into your code. Also, I like their citesummary feature.

    That said I do think ADS keep track of the journal status better. I've had a couple papers where Spires still thought the paper wasn't published but ADS showed it had been.

    But anyways, thanks for the heads up Nick.

  2. Actually Nick, you should check out Inspire sometime. It is the next generation spires and does all kinds of cool stuff like display figures for you papers when you do full html summary etc...


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