After several months of testing it in beta, DeepDyve is excited to announce the formal launch of our literature management solution for research organizations: the Digital Library. We talked with Bill Park, CEO of DeepDyve, about the Digital Library and about what else DeepDyve users have to look forward to.
Why don’t we start with a quick history of DeepDyve. When did it start, and how long have you been associated with it?
Bill Park: DeepDyve was started in 2006 by two bioinformatics scientists. They started the company because they had gotten their PhDs, but then when they left the shelter of their universities and went to small startups, they didn’t have access to full-text papers anymore and they found it very frustrating to try to find the papers they needed. In the beginning their focus was on how to find papers more easily.
When I joined in 2008 we talked to a lot of users, and we found the problem was less with discovery and more with access; the papers were often behind paywalls. Universities and other large institutions gave access to paywalled articles, but small businesses generally couldn’t afford it. We decided to come up with a new business model by creating something that would let researchers read a paper, but not download it. We also wanted to focus on users that the major publishers weren’t focusing on, the researchers at smaller organizations.
We launched that in 2008 and spent a few years winning the trust of publisher partners and growing our user base.
Tell me about the Digital Library. Where did the idea for it come from?
BP: Like all great product ideas it came from the clients. For the first ten years of our existence our users were mostly individuals signing up with credit cards. As our user base grew our full-text collection grew as well; a couple of years ago as the collection exceeded fifteen million papers we noticed that more and more, users were interested not just in accounts for themselves but also for their company. There seems to have been a tipping point where the collection was big enough to meet the needs of whole organizations. So we started offering group plans.
That began to grow and we saw a lot of success with it. But as we were talking to customers we kept hearing this one term over and over again: “one stop”. Users wanted to go to one place to access and manage everything. For small organizations that don’t have the resources to purchase the best of breed solutions, each user tries to do it their own way. They might use DeepDyve, they might find it on their own on the open web; it was a fragmented experience for users. They wanted solutions that would tie everything together, from how they access to how they manage and collaborate on papers. The Digital Library is meant to address this need for literature management.
It starts with access. People want access to the whole range of papers that are available out there, including paywalled and open access. We started to add open access papers to our full-text collection and now we are up to around 5 million papers; our premium content is at around 25 million papers. And we have also completed a reference database of 100 million articles; any article we don’t carry we can facilitate the purchase of so that users can stay all in one platform. And it’s all copyright compliant, which is of course important for any company that has to submit papers for regulatory purposes.
In addition to that, we’ve added some tools that help people organize and manage their papers. There’s a browser extension that works with PubMed and Google Scholar, so you can organize everything regardless of where you find it. We’ve also integrated with Slack and Microsoft Teams and also Microsoft Azure, which facilitates single sign-on and creates that seamless collaboration.
Why is now the right time for Digital Library? What is it bringing to market that research organizations can’t already find?
BP: Frankly, the right time could have been a year ago or ten years ago, because this is an unmet need. When we talked to clients—these are small businesses in a variety of industries—in most cases there isn’t a solution in place. Most commonly we hear that users are relying on their prior academic library logins, or relying on the logins of colleagues who have library credentials to get access to papers, but it’s very inefficient and in many cases not copyright compliant to do so. So there is a need for people to have a more affordable and efficient way to get access to papers; this has been a problem that has persisted for a long, long time.
Absent this, what we’re finding is that everybody is left to their own devices; everybody has to find their own tools. And once you have an environment in a company where everybody is doing things differently, it makes it impossible for people to work together in teams and to collaborate efficiently, because all of their content is scattered in different places, whether it’s on drives on the company’s network or different places within a user’s desktop, such that collaboration becomes virtually impossible. And that introduces compliance and legal risk and, just frankly, inefficiency.
What are some of the key features in this launch?
BP: Really the first key feature is 100 million papers at your fingertips, either for free, for rental, or for purchase.
The second key feature is seamlessly integrated collaboration. Whatever you find within DeepDyve, you can organize it and collaborate with your colleagues with project folders or personal folders.
And third, the client cloud database, where an organization can upload and store all their papers all in one place, accessible by everybody within the company, and new purchases are automatically de-duped. Some people describe it as Dropbox for research; it’s about having it all tied into one place so the user doesn’t have to remember to check some other corporate drive somewhere to see if that paper has already been purchased, or if they purchase, stopping what they’re doing, putting it in that drive, and disrupting their workflow. Now through Digital Library you can search everything inside and outside your company and get access to it in the most cost-effective way possible.
What can Digital Library users expect in the future? Can you share some of the things on the product roadmap?
BP: I think what you can expect is more integration with other enterprise tools, such as the integrations with Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Microsoft Azure. You’ll see us integrating with other services, stitching together all the various threads that a researcher might have to work through so that it becomes an even more seamless user experience.