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SAGE Publishing acquires Sciwheel

Library Technology Newsletter [July 2022]


SAGE Publishing announced that it has acquired Sciwheel, joining the product portfolio of its Technology from SAGE division. Sciwheel is a citation management application, competing with products such as Endnote, Refworks , Mendeley, and Zotero. Sciwheel includes many features that especially complement the company's Lean Library applications and that will be incorporated into that environment as a unified workflow tool for citation management and writing. Technology from SAGE will also continue to offer Sciwheel as a separate product indefinitely.

Sciwheel, initially known as F1000Workspace, was launched in May 2015 by F1000 (previously Faculty of 1000) an organization founded by open access pioneer Vitek Tracz.

Technology from SAGE

Sciwheel joins the other workflow and technology components that SAGE Publications has previously acquired, organized within a new division launched in 2021, Technology from Sage. This group includes:

  • Talis Aspire, a reading list management environment acquired in acquired from Talis Ltd. in Aug 2018.
  • Talis Elevate, a collaborative annotation environment that works in tandem with Talis Aspire. SAGE Publishing recently announced metrics on how it has been used by academic institutions.
  • Lean Library Access, a browser extension which helps researchers find scholarly articles, including open access copies.
  • Lean Library Futures is a browser plug-in that highlights resources available from the library as researchers read or browse articles on the web, including those found through Google Scholar or other search engines rather than the library-provided discovery service. It includes integrations with library support, chat and discovery services to embed these in user workflows.
  • Quartex, a digital asset management system developed by SAGE Publishing subsidiary Adam Matthew Digital.

Martha Sedgwick, Vice President, Product Innovation for SAGE Publishing, summarized some of the key reasons on how Sciwheel fits into the company's product strategy:

Integrating Sciwheel with Lean Library offers a number of exciting opportunities. Sciwheel's Google Doc and Word plug-ins give it a presence in key parts of the patron workflow that Lean Library cannot easily reach with their browser extension. Bringing Lean Library into these plug-ins is expected to increase its value to the library as its offer to ‘bring the library into the patron workflow' has more touchpoints in the workflow. Examples include surfacing relevant suggestions from its discovery service and LibGuide integrations. Other opportunities include insights on patron activity across both features, to help inform library collection and support strategies.

Sciwheel capabilities

Sciwheel functions as a collaborative research and writing environment, including the management of citation. It enables a researcher to save citation data to a personal reference library by selecting in with the browser plug-in. The pdf of the article can also be included if it is available. A researcher's reference library can be populated by importing citations from other reference managers as well as through selecting items individually through the browser plug-in. Sciwheel saves the reference library in the cloud, allowing the researcher to access citations, annotations, and collaborative spaces from any device. The product also includes a recommendation feature to help the researcher find additional related articles. Sciwheel also provides secure shared workspaces to facilitate collaboration among coauthors or other researchers. In addition to the main web interface and browser plug-in, Sciwheel also includes plug-ins for Microsoft World and Google Docs to make it easy to insert citations while writing, or to insert a completed biography.

Sciwheel has been adopted by about 200 educational institutions, with a total of about 120,000 individual users. As the relative newcomer, Sciwheel holds a smaller market share than the other products that have been available longer. The product is offered through corporate or campus-wide site licenses, for research labs, and individual subscriptions.

A review of F1000Workspace was published in Journal of the Medical Library Association (Vol. 105 No. 1 January 2017) by Erica R. Brody, Kathleen A. McGraw, and Barbara Rochen Renner (

Related Business Transitions

F1000 Research was acquired by Taylor & Francis, part of Informa, in January 2020. As noted in the press release "F1000Prime and F1000Workspace are not included in this transaction and will continue under the ownership of Vitek Tracz."

Following this acquisition, the remaining F1000Prime was rebranded as Faculty Opinions and sold to H1 in July 2020.

The sale of of Sciwheel to SAGE Publishing continues the divestment of the F1000 suite of companies and products founded by Tracz.

Business Dynamics

Reference managers have long been an important tools for researchers to manage citations and automate the complex process of formatting references and bibliographies into research papers. Most of these products were initially developed by independent companies and have since been absorbed into larger businesses with diverse workflow and analytics products and services in the broad realm of scholarly publishing. Zotero stands out as the only exception to this trend.

Comparison of Reference Managers
EndNote RefWorks Mendeley Sciwheel Zotero
Current Owner Clarivate ProQuest Elsevier SAGE Publications Corporation for Digital Scholarship
Year Introduced 1989 2001 2009 2015 2006
Developed by Niles & Associates RefWorks, LLC Mendeley F1000 Corporation for Digital Scholarship

The category of citation management software began with the launch of Reference Manager in 1982, developed by Research Information Systems. There has been a pattern of businesses involved with broader realm of scholarly communications acquiring citation management tools:

  • Research Information Systems, creator of Reference Manager, was acquired by Thompson Business Information in 1994, forming a new business Thompson ISI, which later became part of the company that separated to become Clarivate Analytics, which is now Clarivate.
  • The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) acquired Niles & Associates and its Endnote citation manager in April 1999
  • The Institute for Scientific Information acquired ProCite in 1996 from Personal Bibliographic Software, Inc
  • As part of ISI, Reference Manager and ProCite were eventually discontinued as EndNote continuing as its strategic citation management product.
  • ProQuest acquired RefWorks in January 2018. Cambridge Information Group, which at the time owned ProQuest, made an investment in RefWorks in 2001 and was a minority owner of the company.
  • With the acquisition of ProQuest by Clarivate, both EndNote and RefWorks are part of the same business environment. No announcements have been made regarding the future plans for these two citation management products from Clarivate.
  • Mendeley was acquired by Elsevier in April 2013.
  • SAGE Publications acquired Sciwheel from F1000 Research

SAGE Publishing Mergers and Acquisitions

The October 2018 issue Smart Libraries Newsletter featured the acquisition of Talis and Lean Library by SAGE Publishing. This feature includes details of the corporate histories of Talis, Lean Library, and SAGE Publishing.

SAGE Publishing history of Mergers and Acquisitions
SAGE Publishing history of Mergers and Acquisitions

SAGE Publishing Ownership and Continuity Plan

SAGE Publishing was founded in 1965 by Sara Miller McCune and George McCune. In December 2021, McCune transferred her voting shares and control of the company transferred her voting shares and control of the company to the independent SAGE-SMM Trust. This transfer ensures that the SAGE Publishing will remain independent and cannot be acquired by any company in the future.

[Return to issue: July 2022]
View Citation
Publication Year:2022
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Library Technology Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 1 Number 07
Issue:July 2022
Publisher:Library Technology Guides
Place of Publication:Nashville, TN
Record Number:27560
Last Update:2022-12-05 14:31:04
Date Created:2022-07-17 11:51:52