A Q&A with scite and InfoDesk

Having recently announced our exciting new partnership with scite, InfoDesk decided it would be great to sit down with Josh Nicholson, scite CEO, to discuss his organization, where he sees the value of the InfoDesk and scite partnership, and some of his thoughts, feelings and musings on the future of information management as a whole. 

Read the conversation below. 


InfoDesk – Tell us a little bit about scite?

Josh – scite is a new platform introducing the next generation of citations, which we call Smart Citations, in order to help researchers discover and understand research more effectively and efficiently. Today, traditional citations are used very superficially, mostly as a number, where a high citation count is good and a low citation is perhaps not so good. This information, while the standard for more than 50 years, misses a ton of valuable information, such as why the citation was made and where in the citing paper the citation appears (i.e. the introduction versus the results section). It is not surprising though that we use citations in this rudimentary way. To really understand how a paper is cited, one would need to open all the citing papers, which if you have more than a handful becomes quite laborious. Indeed, if a paper is cited by 50 other papers it means that to see how something has been cited, not just how many times, you’d have to open 50 other papers, locate every relevant in-text citation, and then interpret each one. This would be a tremendous amount of work and consequently, it is hardly ever done. That is the crux of what scite enables: anyone can now efficiently understand how a publication and its findings have been referenced in the literature by reading and seamlessly navigating our constantly growing database of citation contexts. It is a superpower for research. 

InfoDesk – And what about scite’s Smart Citation? Give us some insight into this and what it means for researchers and scientists alike?

Josh – Smart Citations are like traditional citations in that they link two papers together providing the metadata of both papers. Unlike traditional citations though, we go a couple of steps further. Smart Citations show the textual context from each in-text citation so you can see exactly how an article has been cited by another publication by easily reading the sentence where the citation was made. In addition to this, we also display what part of the paper the citation was used in, such as the introduction section or the methods or results section, if it was a self-cite or not, if it came from a preprint or an article, and if it provides supporting or contrasting evidence for the cited claim.

To determine if a citation provides supporting or contrasting evidence we utilize a deep learning model that has been trained on over 40k manually annotated citation statements. This allows users to easily see if a paper has been tested by others and if it has been supported or contrasted in the literature. To date, we have extracted over 900M citation statements from over 25M full-text articles, representing the world’s largest database of citation statements.  

InfoDesk – scite and InfoDesk have just announced their partnership, why is this such exciting news?

Josh – We believe we have built a transformative product at scite and that it improves how anyone – from a researcher at the bench to an executive looking strategically at different research areas – evaluates research.  We’re excited to partner with InfoDesk because this is where many organizations and researchers are already interacting with publications and new research. We think our partnership enhances both products because they are so complementary. In fact, it was one of our mutual customers that suggested the partnership, showing that users of both products see value in having the data together in one place. We’re excited to begin to work more closely with the InfoDesk team and really to see more customer feedback.

InfoDesk –  How will scite and InfoDesk be able to leverage their respective technologies to make scientific research more efficient?

Josh – The information that scite and InfoDesk present is out there for individuals to look at but it is scattered across many different sources and is hard to access in many cases. Both scite and InfoDesk help users by making it easy to find relevant data all in one place, whether that is a new supporting citation from the literature from scite or a new news article from InfoDesk.

InfoDesk – And why does that matter to our customers (or potential customers)?

Josh – Customers want relevant information all in one place. They also want this data to be trustworthy and understandable. Scite and InfoDesk put a wealth of information at the fingertips of customers so that they can better understand, assess, and discover research.  I think it is often ego that blocks companies from working together and this comes at the cost of the customer. We’re excited that both teams are so willing to work together to bring a powerful solution to users today and to continue to iterate on that combined solution for future use.

InfoDesk – Where do you see the potential for the most benefit from this partnership?

Josh – I think combining the market presence of InfoDesk, the novelty of our tech and data at scite, and the collaborative nature of both companies will mean that together we can offer something very powerful for users. This utility, if delivered well, should lead to happy customers doing better work. Importantly, this is just the first step of the partnership. Over time there will be increased areas of integration and collaboration to further help users. These include partnerships on API access, customer integration points, and custom work based on user feedback.

InfoDesk –  Give us your quick take on where you see the future of this industry… the trends, technologies, and influences that you see shaping the market in the next 2, 5, 10 years.

Josh – I recently read an interview from the ’60s that said we are “drowning in information.” The amount of information in the ’60s was but a drop of what it is today, and this increase necessitates better ways to discover, interpret, and assess relevant information. This will continue over time with more and more research and information being published each day. That means we need to get better at helping people distinguish the good from the bad, and identify what can be trusted and what can’t. Already we see how hard it is to stay on top of COVID-19 research and how hard it is to manage trust. Trust will be key and we’re excited that scite brings nuance that is not there today to research assessment so that we can help people trust literature better.


We are thrilled to be bringing you this new partnership and as the conversation with Josh highlights, there are a number of reasons you should be excited about this pairing too! 

If you’re interested in finding out more about the scite & InfoDesk partnership, get in touch with us today at info@infodesk.com