Editor’s note: This post is part of our Source the Web series here on SourceCon. It features articles on how to mine particular online data resources from experts like TalentBin’s Peter Kazanjy.
What are academic and scientific journals? Academic journals are peer-reviewed periodicals that serve as forums for the introduction and presentation of new research, as well as for the critique of existing research. Scientific journals are periodical publications intended to further the progress of science, usually by reporting new research.
What is PubMed? Given the plethora of academic and scientific journals that currently exist online, we’ll take one of them—PubMed—and use it as a model for demonstrating how to use these types of journals to source talent on the Web.
It’s important to note that the lessons below on how to source and contact talent based on the work that they publish is applicable to all forms of talent — from software engineering, to scientific, to hard engineering, and more.
PubMed is a free resource that is maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). It comprises more than 23 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books, and its citations include everything from links to full-text content from PubMed Central, to links to publisher websites. PubMed primarily accesses the MEDLINE database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics. As of October 2013, PubMed has over 23 million records dating back to 1966. 13.1 million of PubMed’s records are listed with their abstracts, and 14.2 million articles have links to full-text. In addition, 3.8 million of those full-text articles are available for free, to any user who wants to access them. Currently, the PubMed database contains 21.5 million records.
Why source on PubMed and other scholarly publication databases? PubMed and comparable scientific and academic journals are essentially free search engines focused specifically on the work of academics, scientists, and other professionals. Subsequently, they are great places to search for potential candidates because they allow you to discover individuals based on the professional work they publish, view their scholarly work making it possible to quickly and easily get a solid grasp of the candidate’s level and areas of expertise, and even discover contact information with which to reach out to them.
How is PubMed professionally relevant? PubMed is an easy way to directly access millions of professional scientists, academics and researchers affiliated with a variety of professional associations. This means that every individual you come across has a certain degree of education, experience, and expertise. In other words, you are literally sourcing from the cream of the crop.
What is the core activity that happens on PubMed? PubMed is a database, so the activity that occurs on the site consists of the posting and publishing of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics, as well as user-conducted searches.
How is the core activity structured? The site is a database of articles that are categorized and tagged according to topic, MeSH terms (which are essentially keywords), authors, and companies. As a result, you can search the site using any of these various identifiers. When you pull up a record, you will see a page that includes an abstract summarizing the thesis of the record, a list of author names, a link to the full-text version, and links to related articles.
How to search for and find candidates on PubMed
You can conduct an on-site search to pull up records related to a particular subject. Once a record is pulled up, you can click on the names of the individual authors and contributors to get more detailed information on them.
You can also click the link to the full text of the publication to get more details on the authors, including contact information.
Another way to search the site is by typing in MeSH terms. This will bring up all records that include those terms. For example:
You can also conduct a more detailed, advanced search on PubMed to narrow your results:
How do I browse activity on PubMed? When you navigate to the PubMed homepage, you will immediately see a number of options for browsing and searching. You can choose to search full-text articles, journals, and clinical trials. You can also conduct a general search in the top toolbar.
You can also pull up a list of MeSH terms and then search according to those:
How to identify qualified candidates based on the information present
Conduct a search of the candidate’s name to pull up links to all of the MedPub publications authored by him/her.
You can then click on the links to get to each publication and discover more about the candidate’s specific fields of expertise.
How to cross-correlate to other candidates
When you find an author that interests you, click on his/her name to pull up the publications that include him/her as a contributor.
This will bring up a results page that shows all of the publications and records that include that author’s name in the credits. The author’s full name and recent activity is also viewable in the lower right-hand pane of the page. For example, clicking on the author name Polson AG will yield a list of all articles that include his name.
Culling through this information will reveal more details about the author—most notably, his/her specific skillsets and professional expertise. Once you’ve established him/her as a potential candidate, you can then cross-correlate the information you’ve collected and glean more information about the candidate on other social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Let’s stick with Andrew G. Polson and see what we find. Now that we have his name and the name of the company where he works, it’s easy to find him on LinkedIn:
Note the sparseness of professional information on his LinkedIn profile. Had we searched for “antibody” experience on LinkedIn, we would have never found Andrew.
How to execute outreach
Once you have found a candidate that interests you, there are numerous ways to make contact. Thanks to PubMed, you now have his/her e-mail, which means you can simply send the candidate a direct message. Clicking through to the the full text of a PubMed article also brings up additional information on the article’s various authors, including direct phone numbers. So, reaching out via phone is also a possibility. And, since PubMed provided you with enough information to lead you to the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, that means you can also contact him/her via that avenue as well.
Plus, your message to the candidate can include the fact that you’ve had the opportunity to peruse his/her body of scholarly work, and have subsequently gained quite a bit of knowledge about his/her background and specific skillsets. You will enter the conversation as someone who has done their research.
Conclusion: What have you learned and why is it interesting? You’ve learned that there are numerous academic and scientific journal databases online, all of which can be used as search engines to discover potential job candidates. Each of these publications is authored by a multitude of experienced scholars, scientists, engineers and other professionals. You can use these various databases to uncover pertinent professional information about the authors of these journals, as well their direct contact information. These untapped databases can be valuable sources that can give you a competitive edge in candidate recruitment.
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