We love hearing feedback about Lens. We're happy to present a detailed review of Lens (version 5.12) by Library Analytics Manager, Aaron Tay from Singapore Management University.
I first read about Lens.org via a tweet on my way back from a conference in April 2018. There seemed to be something in the water at the time, as they was an explosion of new discovery services and idexes in the past few months, including Digital science's Dimensions, 1Science's 1Findr, Scilit and the new resurgent challenge to Google Scholar posed by Microsoft Academic.
At the time, I took a quick look at Len's about page to get a better sense of what the data included.
I immediately noted that Lens had a strong focus on patent searching (it's predecessor Patent Lens was built in 1999 to "render the global patent system more transparent"), and article search was the area I was most interested in so I perhaps prematurely dismissed Lens as mainly Microsoft Academic Graph (MAG) + patent searching.
However I have come to realise that Lens might in fact be a far more exciting development than I thought.
While it is true that the scholarly search portion of Lens might be perhaps mostly dominated by the voluminous data from Microsoft Academic Graph (MAG), Lens is far more than the sum of it's parts by combining open data from half a dozen open data sources.
The other significant thing about Lens that differentiates it from the other search discovery and citation indexes is that it is run by Cambia a non-profit that seems committed to produce a open, free to use alternative to commerically owned and licensed indexes.
Most importantly, Lens is not just open data but there is a surprisingly feature rich interface that goes with it that can go toe to toe to many commerical interfaces. Given that the tool is still very new (Scholarly citations from Microsoft Academic Graph was added only 2 weeks ago) , this is pretty impressive and the speed of updates so far, makes me wonder how far it will go, though of course it is still early days.
This is going to be a detailed review in two parts. The first part will focus on the features offered by Lens, wth a focus on the Scholarly search portion of Lens.
This will be followed by a simple test of the data in Lens by extracting items with a given affiliation and comparing the overlap with data from Scopus/Scival.
A detailed analysis of the results will be provided in my next post.