Wednesday, 12 September 2012

ALPSP Conference Day 2: Discovering the needle in a haystack

Ann Lawson introduces the panel

Chaired by Ann Lawson from EBSCO, this session is designed to help publishers understand how they can help academics and professionals to navigate quickly and seamlessly to the trustworthy content they need.

Ann's colleague Harry Kaplanian, Director of Discovery Services at EBSCO Publishing, kicked off with an overview of discovery services as well as the features and benefits for the publishers. 

He began by reminding us of the first discovery system is a library catalogue system in the early 1900s. He then went on to outline the pros and cons of subsequent systems. 

Pros: users can search the entire physical collection quickly; tight ILS integration; one place to search. 
Cons: users can only search catalogue; metadata searching only.

In the 1990s, the first electronic databases began to appear. They aren’t part of the physical collection; change often; multiple tools needed for searching content; students and faculty no longer know where to look; and the e-content just keeps on coming...

Federated search
Pros: single search box for all content; currency of content.
Cons: speed; many indexes; multiple ranking algorithms; larger result sets in complete; internet traffic; content provider traffic.

Web scale discovery
Pros: single search box; search all content, single index and complete result sets
single relevance ranking; speed and bandwidth; no local hardware or software to install; eliminates traditional list problems; drive usage and lower traffic.
Cons: not tightly integrated with ILS.

Usage impact
5000 students
09/10 to 10/11 205% increase in usage in text

He classifies content providers as:
  • Primary publishers
  • Aggregators 
  • Subject Index Providers
  • What do they need to do?
  • What should they watch out for?
Primary Provides - journals & books:
Now standard to provide full text and metadata to discovery services for searching. In most cases content is presented by publishers. The user is guided to full text by link resolver. You have to make sure highest quality metadata and content provided and that active updates to databases are provided.

Aggregators - full journal databases
Most don’t have the right to submit the full text so content presented by aggregator or publishers. The user is guided to full text by link resolver. Make sure highest quality metadata and content is provided, that discovery vendor accurately states if aggregator is actively taking part or not, and active updates to databases are provided

Subject index providers
Powerful subject indexing based on controlled vocabularies, no full text, but a big impact on full Discovery. Make sure the Discovery service is capable of properly searching, merging, ranking and securing entitled access. Consider what happens when a customer cancels subject index subscription, renews, adds it, doesn’t have it?
Make sure Discovery vendor accurately states if subject index provider is actively taking part or not - check the vendor’s claims.


Simon Inger provided an overview of key findings from the Survey on Reader Navigation which is due to be published shortly. Read about the project here

Main recommendations for publishers are:
  • Publishers need to support all of the discovery channels that their clients (libraries and readers) want to use
  • Publishers need to understand how different reader types discover and access their content so that they can target readers and authors more effectively
  • Potential to expose more sophisticated discovery information to key channels
  • Potential to differentiate through which discovery channels to make subscriber offers.
The summary report will be published for free later this month. The full report will be published at the same time. All supporting publishers receive these items in return for their help. Full results set and analysis framework will be available for a fee shortly afterwards. 


Robert Faber, Director, Discoverability Program at OUP, concluded with an overview of the Introducing the Oxford Index.


Why does discoverability matter to publishers and librarians? Traffic and use are the lifeblood of digital scholarship. use of subscriptions shows the value of the content. Discovery reveals interest and demand for new content. Customer and user behaviour is changing. If you can’t find it, you won’t use it. People are searching for a topic, not book - 80% of traffic to Oxford Journals is direct to article. There are many search systems and rapid evolution. It's about free content outside the paywall for some products - abstracts, keywords, Oxford Journals, Oxford Scholarship.
The MARC program has been improved and expanded. Linking: some in place, mainly in close neighbourhood. Some editorial linking between products. Some partnerships with other publishers and institutions have been set up. New mobiles sites for Oxford Journals and future products are set up. Library discovery services have been developing new partnerships. SEO is at the centre of product evolution.


Discovery happens in Open Web Search, library services, research hubs, through content links, opt-in services, viral awareness and via OUP web features.

What is the Oxford Index? It’s free discovery from OUP: a standardised description of every item of content, in one place. It incorporates external search partners, an Oxford interface - landing pages: quick pathways to full text, web-searchable; and cross searchable - but they recognise that the website might not continue to be very important. It provides a way to create links and relationships across content with meaningful links that add value and traffic. There are overview pages for quick view of topic links embedded in products. This is a free service integrated with existing products.

What does this mean for search rankings and usage?
  • No change to existing SEO or rankings
  • OI is supplemental route to primary full-text content
  • OI gives Google a super-site map across OUP content
  • Highly-trusted network reinforces destination full-text sites
  • Aim is additional traffic, monitored and reported

What does it mean for library integration? Library visibility? Bring in users from general web search. OI can interact directly with library search. OI identifies library’s provision of full content which highlights the benefits of library services. Visibility through other library, A&I, research services? OI metadata routinely supplied to library systems.

The benefits include i) traffic: sustaining and widening sales, ii) consistent methods - for users and systems, and iii) evolving grid of options to connect content.

Faber finished with trends and predictions that included:
  • importance of india, china and the non-western world
  • differences between journals, book and reference content defined by role/task within the research journey
  • sites that can qualify general users will become a larger focal point of discoverability activity e.g Google Books
  • shift from focus on entrance-point to linking: related content, related services
  • scholarly/research communities play bigger role in academic discoverability.

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