You may recall from mid-December I mentioned that I was getting a lot of hits from an organization called Nerac. I asked if someone from Nerac might be interested in dropping me an email or making a comment to let me know what had piqued their interest. Well, I didn't hear anything for a while and the whole thing sort of slipped to the back of my mind. A couple of weeks ago I did get an email from Michael Mahoney, Business Development Manager of Nerac, and he graciously agreed to answer a few questions about Nerac and their interest in my post on the future of A&I databases.
Q. Would you mind describing Nerac a little bit and how it relates to the scitech world? Do you have mostly corporate clients or also academic institutions & research groups?
Nerac, Inc. is an innovative research advisory partner for industry and consumer goods organizations. Our clients turn to us for scientific, technical intellectual property and business decisions. The majority of our clients are corporate, however we do service many university technology transfer departments.
Q. Do you employ and people with library backgrounds as researchers or customer liaisons? How about people with science & engineering backgrounds?
Nerac employs over 100 analysts with a variety of backgrounds in science, technology and business. Many have advanced degrees including several with MLS degrees. We also have patent attorneys and licensed patent agents on staff.
Q. What kind of research tools do you use? Obviously Google, USPTO and other free search engines, but how about Dialog, patent databases, Scopus, Web of Science and other for fee products?
Nerac uses whatever resources it needs to find the information needed to fit the research needs of our clients. The resources listed below are just a few that the staff uses regularly:
A&I and full text patent databases that are load on our in-house proprietary search engine.
Aggregated hosts - STN, Questel, Newsbank and Westlaw.
Value add resources – Knovel, ADIS, Hoover’s and BioPharm Insight.
Free resources – Google Scholar, Google Books, Web search engines, and content found on the invisible web.
Our own direct experiences in research fields.
Telephone networking with experts in the field.
Q. How about journals and other scholarly content -- IEEE, ACM and other scitech publishers? Or mostly on the trade journal side of things?
We do have corporate agreements with a few of the major publishers of Sci-Tech journals for in-house use of their content. If we need papers from the other publishers we order them on behalf of our clients.
Q. Finally, it was my discussion of the future of A&I databases that got this whole thing going. Where do you see that business (and related content businesses like journal publishing) going in the next few years?
Primary content will always be around in some form. There has been some movement toward open access, but it will be interesting to see how that plays out in the market.
Years ago it was enough to send raw premium A&I to a client. The patron could select and read a few papers and hopefully solve their problem. We detected that a shift in secondary content was going to occur a few years ago due to all the free content. We changed our business model to deliver deeper analysis of the problem at hand and offer an opinion on the solution. Both information professionals and information companies need to be aware that you can’t compete with free and stay in business. Ultimately, the value these professionals and companies offer is analysis, advice, and opinion.
That was fun. I certainly wouldn't mind trying out some more interview-style posts here in the future, perhaps with some fellow scitech librarians, bloggers or people in the publishing world.