Springer launched yesterday a new service allowing users to search, browse, annotate and reuse scientific images from their huge database of publications.
SpringerImages is a growing collection of scientific images that spans the scientific, technical and medical fields, including high-quality clinical images from images.MD. The continually updated collection – currently over 1.5 million images – gathers photos, graphs, histograms, figures, and tables, and is available to libraries and their patrons via a searchable online database. The SpringerImages interface enables users to search faster, more broadly and more accurately, through captions, keywords, context and more, even jumping from the image to the source article. Users can create personalized image “sets,” and can easily export images for use in their own presentations or lectures.
The service offers a range of potentially innovative features.
Being able to search, organise and download high quality images as PDF from a large corpus of books and journals might represent a breakthrough in the dissemination and reuse of non-textual content from the scientific literature. Usage factors related to images may provide additional metrics of scientific impact for authors and journal editors. From the end user’s point of view, the collaborative annotation functionality is an interesting addition, although it may not be obvious to convince users to massively start tagging and annotating images. Last but not least, a prominent button allows users to bookmark images via CiteULike (a Springer partner) in the same way as references (images available from SpringerImages will be the displayed as thumbnails from the correspondent article page). It is worth reporting details on the access conditions, as the full availability of the service (in particular access to full-resolution images) is tied to Springer’s institutional subscriptions. The set of freely accessible images is–helas–a tiny portion of the complete database.
Anyone can create an account and search the free and Open Access images indexed by SpringerImages. Access to the complete collection is available via subscription to libraries, research institutions and individuals. Images obtained from SpringerImages can be used for almost all noncommercial purposes, including integration into presentations and PDF documents.