bims: ASAPbio design sprint submission

bims: Biomed News

Organized by Directed by Gavin McStay (Staffordshire University), founded by Thomas Krichel (Open Library Society)
Website or social media links:
The current stage of development: ongoing project
The intended duration of the project: indefinite

Project aims

Bims is a rapid dissemination system for new papers in PubMed. Bims is powered by human selectors acting as machine teachers.
How does this benefit preprints?

Background information on current practices

Thomas Krichel published the world’s first online electronic economics working paper.
His continued efforts lead to the RePEc project. It enabled the survival of economics working papers.
He founded the NEP: New Economics Papers project. It circulates the latest adivitions to RePEc’s working paper stock into weekly subject-specific reports curated by selectors.
He created ernad, a special software for maintaining NEP reports.
He started to refactor ernad so it could apply to various document collections.
He persuaded Gavin McStay to direct a project to apply ernad to PubMed. Now we have “bims: Biomed News”.
PubMed started to index some preprints. Bims became a rapid circulation tool for them.
This graph shows the evolution of the number of issues in actively maintained reports over time. The downward shifts occur when we close a report.

Overview of the challenge to overcome

As evident from the graph, keeping users is easy. Marketing bims to new users is hard.
  1. Nothing even remotely like it existed before.
  2. It flies in the face of conventional wisdom.
  3. We can’t instantaneously demonstrate how it would work for a new user.
  4. We lack prestigious backers.

The ideal outcome or output of the project


Description of the intervention

We continue to recruit new users. Unless we get sponsorship for a server, we can’t move to new ventures.

Plan for monitoring project outcome

Project outcomes are publicly available. We monitor reports manually at this time. As bims grows, Machine-aided monitoring will be an interesting challenge.

What’s needed for success

Additional technology development

Feedback, beta testing, collaboration, endorsement


We urgently need funding for a server. Funding for software development would accelerate our progress.