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NextBio Recommender Launch April 24, 2009

Posted by Andre Vellino in Collaborative filtering, Recommender, Recommender service.

nblogosm Congratulations to NextBio, which has just launched its recommender for science articles (and data and clinical studies).  And they have a new and improved UI as well!  We need more portals like that.

Unlike my prototype Synthese Recommender on CISTI Lab, NextBio offers up recommendations in a piecemeal way.  It looks like the recommendations depends on an overall usage profile (downloads or clickstream – I’m not sure) and there do not appear to be many ways to control what gets recommended.

In the 5 minutes that I played with it, I searched for Kawasaki’s disease (my next door neighbour’s daughter has it) and Multiple Sclerosis (several friends have it) and I was given recommendations for literature and studies on Cancer. But there isn’t an explanation for why I was given those recommendations, so I don’t know why I should trust them.  Explanation is a critical feature for recommenders and I need to start working on explanations for my recommender too. 

But really, it’s much too early to assess the quality of NextBio’s recommender. I expect it suffers from the cold start problem endemic to all recommender systems and acutely endemic to digital library recommenders. NextBio’s recommender will no doubt get better as its 1.6M visitors (so says their stats counter) to generate usage data!


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