Herve Basset Pubget: get the science, ever faster... Part 1
Jinfo Blog

Thursday, 28th July 2011

By Herve Basset



Yes, Pubget is another new biomedical search engine, but primarily it is a PDF browser. Pubget differs from similar literature search engines in how results are displayed: the purpose is not to give you an extensive list of hits like the competition does, but rather to give you immediate access to the science articles you need.

Pubget was founded three years ago by Dr. Ramy Arnaout, while he was at Harvard. He was very frustrated with the old-fashioned workflow for accessing scientific literature. He created a program that would retrieve papers for him, just to make his time more productive. Based on the interest his colleagues expressed in the tool, he teamed up with associates to build a commercial version and Pubget was born.

Product objectives

Pubget is revolutionising the way researchers access science literature by reducing the number of clicks to get to the PDF. Where PubMed or Google Scholar require seven steps to get a file, Pubget boasts just three.

Availability of PDFs depends, of course, on whether or not the reader has subscription access to view them, but the workflow speed is really fascinating. There is no question whether this desire for speed is a good or a bad thing. The fact is that readers want to get the content, whatever the source, whatever the publisher, whatever the journal, impact factor, etc., in the fastest way. It is probably a side effect of the Google era’s supremacy. This new behaviour is also encouraged by the growth of the Open Access movement (from 7% to 20% of the science publications, according to various sources). If Content is King, then Speed is Queen... 

Scientists complain that they want to spend more time on science and less time on searching. Pubget completely satisfies this desire for speed.


Pubget's primary audience is life science researchers. They claim to have more than 400 institutions using the system and, after only three years, 6.5 million queries per month. This is amazing if we compare it with the 15-year-old PubMed (100 million queries per month). It is not surprising that students and teachers have rushed to this service: free services like Pubget or Mendeley make their lives better and the literature search (such a boring thing to do!) sexier.

Product uses

Pubget works well for individuals but works better with an institution’s activation. Then Pubget delivers the full text PDF for anything to which the user has legal access, either through subscriptions or Open Access. Pubget does this by working with each library for their active institutions. Activation is free for any non-profit (university, hospital, government, or other non-profit research centre). It works as an article level link solver. Users will see the abstract for anything to which they don't have access. It is also possible to limit the searching to Open Access or to the institution's holdings.

Initial impression

As an information professional, I consider Pubget to be one of the three best alternatives to PubMed (with GoPubMed and Biblimed). It speeds up access to life sciences literature because it links you directly to the full text on the publisher’s website. Pubget is the ultimate achievement of the Google Scholar concept, but without the concerns regarding data privacy and lack of transparency, and with a highest speed in accessing the files.

View Part 2 >>

Hervé Basset holds the position of Librarian, at a large European pharmaceutical company. In parallel, he is an independent consultant and owner of: http://scienceintelligence.wordpress.com. His special expertise is the in-depth analysis of online services, such as Bibliographical databases, E-journals platforms, Knowledge-oriented intranet, etc.

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