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Recommended, a service which connects the research community with the most relevant content, has been launched by Springer Nature. The company says the service has been developed in response to the extensive and rapid increase in published research which makes it difficult for researchers to keep up to date with developments in their specific fields.  

Springer Nature says it is the first such service from a publisher, in which specific recommendations from across all published literature are generated by algorithm.  Recommended makes suggestions of primary research papers which are drawn from over 65 million papers, are chosen irrespective of publisher, and are algorithmically tailored to the individual researchers’ interests.

An initial survey sent to 4,000 users was undertaken in 2015 to understand the challenges users face as researchers and to identify ways in which Springer Nature could support them.

The survey confirmed the challenge associated with a previously identified trend: a rapidly increasing volume of research is being published and researchers are struggling to find the time to identify the most relevant papers. Research published in 2014 found that the total number of articles has been growing at an average 6.3 per cent p.a., from 1.3 million in 2003 to 2.4 million in 2013. The survey found that 85 per cent of researchers felt that they were probably missing relevant papers in their field in a typical month and a quarter of respondents said that most weeks they do not feel up to date.  Following this survey and additional focus groups and individual interviews with international researchers, Springer Nature developed Recommended to support researchers in managing this challenge.

Sarah Greaves, publishing director at Springer Nature, commented: 'The volume of scientific research has substantially increased in recent years and over 4,000 primary research articles are published every day in the natural sciences.  From our discussions with and surveys of academic scientists, we know just how challenging researchers find keeping on top of the primary  literature and, as a progressive publisher, we are determined to find ways to connect the research community with the most relevant content – whether or not we ourselves have published it.'

She added: 'We’ve been trialling Recommended in beta form for almost a year and we’re confident that we’ve started to develop a product that offers genuine value to the research community. So far users from over 200 countries have accessed the recommendations, of whom over 70% are return visitors – the University of Cambridge is the institution with the highest number of users and our top recommendations focus on CRISPR technology.

'Next we’ll be looking at how we might  develop the service further, by adding new services researchers say they want around keeping up to date with their broader scientific interests such as conferences or funding opportunities as well as the pure joy of discovering unknown science in areas unrelated to their primary research focus. As this product has been driven by our users’ needs however, we will only develop services that they want to see added.  We welcome feedback from the research community on how Recommended should be extended to further serve their needs.'