Friday, August 27, 2010

VIVO national conference

I attended the first VIVO national conference in New York on August 12-13. VIVO is an open source semantic web application that enables the discovery of research and scholarship across disciplines at a particular institution. It was originally developed at Cornell University in 2004 to support Life Sciences. It was re-implemented using RDF, OWL, Jena and SPARQL in 2007, and covers all faculty, researchers and disciplines at Cornell and University of Florida. In September 2009, seven institutions received funding from the NIH to enable “National Networking with VIVO” . The VIVO web enables the discovery of research and scholarship across institutions by creating a semantic cloud of information that can be searched and browsed. It is like a Facebook for scientist, where researcher can not only find out “who knows what”, but also “who knows who”, and “who knows who knows what”, (Phrases quoted from the keynote speech “Using web science to understand and enable research networks” by Noshir Contractor).

The seven partner institutions include the University of Florida, Cornell University, Indiana University, Washington University at St. Louis, The Scripps Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Ponce Medical College. They formed teams to conduct research and development on data harvesting, data analysis and visualization, ontology development. There are also user support team and outreach team.

There are many potential use for VIVO:

1. Faculty/researcher can find collaborators within or across institutions, or keep abreast of new work
2. Donor/Funding agency can discover current funded project or search for specialized expertis
3. Student can locate mentor, programs, or showcase own research
4. Administrator can showcase departmental activities, or identify areas of institutional strength

VIVO targets to harvest much of its data automatically from verified sources including
  • Institutional Sources: Human resources data, course data or grant management data,
  • National data repositories: such as PubMed or,
  • Publication data sources: citation database such as Scopus.

Another areas of VIVO’s development is in visualization. Some completed work includes Co-Author visualization, VIVO world activity map. There is a detailed development roadmap.

During the conference there are also presentations about the other research networking tools such as DigitalVita from University of Pittsburgh, Harvard Catalyst Profiles (from Harvard Medical School) and Collexis (commercial product). I found out at the conference that Welch library has implemented Collexis. See Welch’s Collexis implementation. Collexix also partners with VIVO project.

I also attended the “User, interface design, and evaluation” session. The User Interface Design components include “Functionality Requirements, User Analysis, information architecture, prototyping, Visual Design, usability testing. Mental model is used for user analysis and defining user scenarios priority and importance.

A very interesting poster session worthwhile mentioning is “Mapping Science”.


The presentations of this conference are available at

Next year VIVO conference is in Washington DC.