I spent part of my morning today fiddling around with ChemWorx, a new tool from the American Chemical Society. Here is what ChemWorx purports to do, per their email press release:
ACS ChemWorx enables researchers to:
- Organize their research for online publication
- Quickly create online profiles with comprehensive messaging and social communication features
- Organize workgroups and maintain private discussion areas
- Import, manage and share their research libraries
- Obtain free access to the ACS Style Guide Online
My initial impression was that this tool is similar to Mendeley. It has an online interface as well as desktop and mobile applications. It allows researchers to connect with each other through their profiles as well as organize and cite their research. I haven't tried out the MS Word plugin for citations yet, although it does exist (as well as Open Office and LaTeX), or the mobile versions. Here are some of my initial impressions from the desktop & web clients:
- When I opened the desktop client, I was easily able to import my entire Mendeley Library. I also was able to select articles of my own from a Google Scholar search. Both were super easy to do, and ChemWorx kept my file organization structure from Mendeley.
- ChemWorx is completely free. There is no tiered pricing structure. What you get in terms of storage space is 5000 publications or 3072 MB.
- ChemWorx has some neat interfaces for looking at your research/publications. You can use it to look at analytics based on author, journal, publication type, and publisher for your entire collection or for specific folders.
- ChemWorx has a PDF viewer that can be used to highlight and annotate PDFs
- Drag & drop capability for adding PDFs.
- Users can create shared groups or shared collections, and there doesn't seem to be a limit on the number of either.
- There are quite a few citation styles available (mostly in the sciences, of course, but big ones like MLA & APA are also there.)
- ChemWorx links out to a lot of search interfaces for finding articles. From within the desktop client, you can search PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, ACS, Google Scholar, IEEE Xplore, and a whole lot more. These are not, however, connected to institutional accounts, so getting the full text still requires going through the library website.
- Adding metadata for articles works similarly to Mendeley. Like Mendeley, ChemWorx attempts to mine metadata from PDFs. When this doesn't work, you can enter a doi, pmid, or arXivID to try to find it. It did seem like there were some bugs with this, but only sometimes.
The Not-So-Good or Just Plain Confusing
- The biggest problem I had was that the Help for ChemWorx has very little content. I was mostly left to my own devices to figure things out, and for some things that never happened.
- The storage space limitations are not as robust as some might need.
- I wasn't able to actually add documents to my groups or collections. I also could not figure out how to add someone to a shared collection (and of course, there was nothing about this in the Help.)
- Once I added all of my Mendeley articles to the desktop interface, I was unable to view my library in the online version even though I synced.
- Some of the desktop features actually go to a web interface, so that's a little confusing. I'm not sure if or how they would work offline.
- In the online interface I can see some functionality for creating tasks and events and sharing those with others. I cannot figure out where those are in the web version. Also, my tasks aren't even displaying in the online version.
- Messages posted to groups seem to only appear in the online version.
I think ChemWorx needs some more time. Most of the issues I found with it were due to bugginess and lack of documentation -- both of which I hope will improve with some time. It's not something I would be ready to recommend to users yet. That said, I will keep an eye on it because I think it's a good start and could be a nice alternative to Mendeley, particularly for users who want to have multiple groups and not pay extra for them.