Get ready for some new apps for Elsevier’s Sciverse framework. Last year Elsevier, which has one of the largest vaults of scientific data in the world, launched its Sciverse Applications module. This provided a way for researchers and scientists to develop and share customized solutions that improve search and discovery of its wealth of integrated content and meta-data in the SciVerse hub of ScienceDirect, SciVerse Scopus, Sciverse SciTopics, and targeted web content.

Now it’s announced the winners of its Apps For Science competition, social and semantic ones that plug into the framework among them (see above). Elsevier recognizes that when it comes to meeting researchers’ search and discovery needs, it can’t do it all alone. “We’re not going to come up with all the solutions ourselves, so a key goal is to collaborate with developers and researchers to provide tools,” says Rafael Sidi, Vice President Product Management, Applications Marketplace and Developer Network, Elsevier

To that end, since January it’s been holding hackathons at universities such as the Tetherless World Constellation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s in the states, as well as schools as far-flung as Australia, Singapore and China.

The Apps For Science competition aimed to expand on that with greater incentives, including prize money and presentation in front of a panel of judges from universities, tech companies and VCs. “We started this as a first-time challenge, to give incentives to come up with solutions.  “Our goal is open innovation to the scientific and research community, and to bring those apps into the framework. Some of the entries we got were really excellent apps, and we could not have thought of them,” he says. Twenty-seven applications were entered into the competition.

The grand prize winner is Altmetric, which measures the attention scientific articles receive on social sites. “It’s very crucial for scientists that other scientists cite their journals,” says Sidi. And it’s time social networking was counted for as part of that process, too. The app tracks tens of thousands of article mentions a month across Twitter, Facebook, the scientific blogosphere and publishers including The Guardian, the New York Times and New Scientist.

Second prize went to Refinder from Leo Sauermann, one of the co-founders of Gnowsis that grew out of the NEPOMUK semantic desktop project. Refinder is an intelligent online collaboration tool for adding personal information management and social functions to SciVerse. “Our vision is to build the next generation enterprise social software based on semantic technologies,” Sauermann said in a statement. “Research is teamwork. With Refinder, researchers can add comments to articles and share both a link to the article and the comments with team members — right from the SciVerse user interface. This brings communication and research together. Teams often work accross organization and application borders. Refinder makes this easy and quick by recommending the relevant collection and team to share information with, using semantic text analysis.” Third prize went to iHelp, which helps users do multilingual meta search in Elsevier’s hub of Science libraries.

Sidi says that all the apps are worth a look (they’re all available on the platform now), even if they didn’t earn a price. Species and Exoplanets, for instance, link literature to data sets. The former extracts species inside articles and display rich species data right inside ScienceDirect, and the latter does the same for extrasolar planets noted inside articles.

Other Sciverse apps that weren’t in the competition that Sidi says are of interest include some that get into hard-core text mining, to provide more insight on fully mined content. Quantifind, for instance, aAllows users to discover a new way of searching, leveraging data rather than traditional keyword search to uncover emerging trends and correlations, and NextBio offers capabilities to search for relevant text not only at the document-level, but also at the sentence and paragraph level; to decompose an article into sub-sections; to find relevant content using faceted navigation; and to integrate content from Elsevier’s Scopus product.

As Sidi reiterates, “We don’t believe in the ‘invented here’ formula. …We want to open and collaborate and bring those solutions that scientists are already building in and expose them to the whole scientific community, and to provide the platform for that.”