Discovery Services: Basics and Resources

A discovery service is an online library searching tool that provides an all-in-one interface for finding both local library items and online subscription and open access resources.

Why learn about discovery services?

Most libraries use discovery services in addition to, or as a replacement for, their OPAC.  Whether you are a technical services librarian whose job it is to administer them or a reference librarian who uses them as a major research tool, it is helpful to know how discovery services work.  You need to know their features and their limitations.

The Basics

For this article, we will use Summon (with Serials Solutions) as an example.  But all discovery services share the same basic functions and features.  They consist of three major parts: the index, the link resolver, and the search interface.

Summon is a discovery service developed by ProQuest and now managed and supported by Ex Libris (since their merger).  Summon allows users to search for print and electronic resources owned or subscribed to by their library.

In my library, Summon works in conjunction with Serials Solutions 360 Link using a Summon Unified Index to provide links to ebooks (and chapters), journal articles, audio, videos, library catalog records, institutional repositories, LibGuides, and more.

Summon Unified Index
Source: http://exl-edu.com/07_Summon/Overview/Discovery/Introduction to Summon

The Summon index contains citation metadata, subject terms, abstracts, full text, and direct links (when available).  It also includes Ulrichsweb information, DOIs, altmetrics, and citation counts.

Summon Indexing

The combination of Summon and Serials Solutions employs two methods of indexing applied in this order:

  1. Summon – Index Enhanced Direct Linking (IEDL)
  2. Serials Solutions 360 Link – OpenURL Link Resolver
Summon for Researchers
Source: http://exl-edu.com/07_Summon/Overview/Discovery/Understanding the Summon Index

When you perform a search and Summon returns results, Summon first looks to see if it has a direct link to the item using its proprietary Index Enhanced Direct Linking (IEDL).  These are reliable links that point specifically to the title and are successful more than 99% of the time, according to Ex Libris.

If Summon doesn’t have an IEDL record, the metadata is passed to Serials Solutions 360 Link.  This is a link resolver that relies on OpenURL technology.  What this means is that 360 Link must build a URL containing item search metadata in a format that the database website can use.  Most broken search results links occur when either the URL is badly formed or the metadata on the database’s side is incorrect.  Fortunately, Summon gives you ways to work around the problem by providing DOIs, other database choices, or links to the ebook or journal level so that you can browse to the chapter or article.

One great feature is Summon’s ability to do a full-text search for library print book holdings by indexing electronic versions of the same title, even if they aren’t owned by your library.

Relevancy Ranking and Filters

Summon then performs relevancy ranking on the results using a proprietary method that is a combination of dynamic and static ranking. Dynamic ranking includes search term frequency, field (title, author, abstract) weighting, term manipulation (synonyms, stemming, etc.), and other functions.  Static ranking includes item attributes such as content type, date published, peer-review status, and citation counts.  Library collection items are given a higher ranking than subscription database items.

After relevancy ranking, Summon filters search results for those items that your library has access to by default.  Of course, users can see all of the relevant results by checking the “Add results beyond your library’s collection” box.

Finally, Summon offers several filters to limit results to full text, peer-review, library catalog, content type, discipline, publication date, and language.

Library Resources Management

Now that we know how Summon indexes and creates search results links, we need to know how Summon selects results that are only contained in your library’s collection.  In this sense, your “collection” means both your print holdings as well as all of the online resources you own or subscribe to.

eBook and e-Journal Holdings

In order for Summon to link to your online ebook and e-journal holdings, you must tell Summon what you own or subscribe to.  You do this by activating or “tracking” your holdings in Serials Solutions 360 Core, the back-end of 360 Link and interface for the ProQuest Knowledgebase.  You can track entire databases, publisher collections, journal titles (with specific date ranges), and individual ebooks.

Serials Solutions e-Catalog List

For each database you subscribe to, you might subscribe to all of the titles (if offered as a complete package) or you might subscribe to only some of the titles (if purchased individually).

If titles within a database are purchased individually, you must track those individual titles.  In addition, you also might need to set custom dates if you don’t subscribe to the entire run of the journal title.  If you subscribe to an entire database, new titles get added automatically when they become available.  Ebook Central can also be set up to add your newly purchased ebook titles (perpetual and DDA) automatically.  Otherwise, library staff must add new ebook and e-journal titles manually.

Serials Solutions e-Catalog Titles

Because libraries often have unique access requirements, Serials Solutions gives you a way to customize your access URL and other details.  For databases which do not have article- or ebook-level linking, you can choose to link at the database level instead.  You can choose to include your proxy URL for subscribed titles or omit it for open access resources. You can include custom journal subscription date ranges.  Finally, you can add custom public notes (such as login information).

Serials Solutions e-Catalog Details

Library Catalogs and Institutional Repositories

Discovery services can include records from your library catalog and institutional repository.  There are several different methods for getting the local records into the Summon index.

At my library, to get our library catalog indexed, we export bibliographic and holdings records from our ILS on a periodic basis and upload them via FTP to Ex Libris.  Staff at Ex Libris then add them to the Summon index (a process that can take several weeks).

For many institutional repositories, you provided Summon with access to your institutional repository metadata using Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH).  Institutional repository content is then harvested automatically on a periodic basis (weekly for Summon).

Resources

Here are some great online resources to learn about discovery services:

Articles and books about discovery services:

The Future of Library Resource Discovery by Marshall Breeding

The Future of Library Resource Discovery“A white paper commissioned by the NISO Discovery to Delivery (D2D) Topic Committee” gives an overview of the current state of library discovery services and looks into how they might adapt to the future.  Published in 2015.

Access the full-text article (PDF).

E-Discovery Tools and Applications in Modern Libraries edited by Egbert de Smet and Sangeeta Dhamdhere

 My library My History Books on Google Play E-Discovery Tools and Applications in Modern LibrariesPart of the “Advances in Library and Information Science” (ALIS) series.  This book is a collection of papers covering discovery UX, e-metrics, open source, digital libraries, and library usage studies. Published in 2016.

View details and find a place to buy or borrow at Google Books.

Implementing Web-Scale Discovery Services: A Practical Guide for Librarians by JoLinda Thompson

Implementing Web-Scale Discovery Services: A Practical Guide for LibrariansNo. 9 in the “Practical Guides for Librarians” series.  From the publisher: this book is a “one-stop source for librarians seeking to evaluate, purchase, and implement a web-scale discovery service.”  Published in 2014.

View details and find a place to buy or borrow at Google Books.

Web Scale Discovery Services by Jason Vaughan

Web Scale Discovery ServicesThis title is actually an issue of Library Technology Reports from ALA Tech Source.  The report covers the content, interface, and functionality of discovery services from the major vendors to help with evaluation.  Possibly a bit dated now. Published in 2011.

View details and find a place to buy or borrow at Google Books.

OAI-PMH: Basics and Resources

Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) is a set of specifications for making structured open repository metadata accessible to other service providers issuing requests.

Why learn about OAI-PMH?

Taking advantage of repositories (data providers) and services (service providers) that offer metadata using OAI-PMH will allow your resources better visibility and access.  For example, many discovery services (the “harvester”) use OAI-PMH metadata for indexing open access institutional repository articles.

The Basics

Open Archives InitiativeOpen Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) specifies how metadata is structured and presented for ingestion by external services, usually on the Internet.  OAI-PMH metadata is encoded in extensible markup language (XML) format.  OAI-PMH records are harvested using HTTP requests.

OAI-PMH is a project of the Open Archives Initiative.

Continue reading “OAI-PMH: Basics and Resources”

Basics and Resources Series 2016

Last year we created a Basics and Resources series to introduce some common library technology topics.  As you can guess from the name, in each article we introduced the basic concepts and listed resources where you could learn more.  Based on feedback, these articles proved very popular and we will be posting more in the coming year.

The Basics and Resources articles from 2016 were:

Linked Data

Linked Data mugLinked Data is a set of practices which involves the publishing, sharing, and connecting of related data across the Web in a structured format, preferably using an open access license.

Read Linked Data: Basics and Resources.

BIBFRAME

BIBFRAMEBIBFRAME is a bibliographic framework for the description of physical and online objects to make them accessible on the Web by using a standard Linked Data model. It is a replacement for MARC.

Read BIBFRAME: Basics and Resources.

Altmetrics

Altmetric ScoreAltmetrics are “alternative metrics” to measure the influence and reach of scholarly output on the Web through peer-review counts, influential news sites and blog posts, citation manager bookmarks such as Mendeley, Wikipedia citations, and social media mentions on sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Read Altmetrics: Basics and Resources.

API

API GraphicAPI stands for Application Programming Interface which allows external applications to access software or Web services data, in the latter case by using HTTP request messages, for recombination (mashup) or custom presentation by the external application.

Read API: Basics and Resources.

We will keep a current list on the Basics and Resources Series page.

API: Basics and Resources

API stands for Application Programming Interface which allows external applications to access software or Web services data, in the latter case by using HTTP request messages, for recombination (mashup) or custom presentation by the external application.

Why use APIs?

Application programming interfaces essentially allow programs and online services to talk to each other.  APIs provide a set of definitions and protocols for services to request and exchange data.  Many library vendors provide public and key-based APIs to their services in order to allow customers to pull bibliographic and other data into local systems and websites.

The Basics

For our purposes, we’ll only look at Web APIs.

Web services and applications exchange data through APIs using a request and response system.  The exchange uses HTTP and HTTPS (secure HTTP) like regular Web requests, however the data isn’t formatted for people to read but rather for other services.  The data format is usually expressed in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) or Extensible Markup Language (XML).

API Graphic

Continue reading “API: Basics and Resources”

Altmetrics: Basics and Resources

Altmetrics are “alternative metrics” to measure the influence and reach of scholarly output on the Web through peer-review counts, influential news sites and blog posts, citation manager bookmarks such as Mendeley, Wikipedia citations, and social media mentions on sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Why understand altmetrics?

Altmetric ScoreAltmetrics go beyond the traditional citation metrics to take into consideration how scholarly output such as journal articles and research datasets are being cited and shared by others on the Web in order to measure influence. They are meant to complement tradition metrics, not replace them.

Altmetrics counts (and scores) are updated much more quickly than traditional citation counts so are especially helpful with “hot topics” getting mainstream attention where citation counts can lag by months and even years.

The Basics

Altmetrics are basically counts of mentions and links to scholarly journals and datasets from reputable news sites (and aggregators) and blogs, peer-reviewed sites, reference managers, and major social media sites.  The company Altmetric uses a weighted score with a Twitter post counting as 1 point, a news article counts 8, a blog is 5, and a Wikipedia link is 3. Sources counting less than 1 point include Facebook and YouTube at 0.25 point and LinkedIn at 0.5.

Wiley added altmetrics to Wiley journal articles in the Wiley Online Library in 2014.  Elsevier added Altmetric scores Scopus in 2012 and to ScienceDirect in a pilot project in late 2013, but in 2015 switched to their own altmetrics system for ScienceDirect and Scopus.

We are seeing altmetrics incorporated into several library products. Two of the most prominent companies, Altmetric and EBSCO’s Plum Analytics, provide altmetrics to vendors for inclusion in services such as discovery tools and institutional repositories.

ProQuest Central Altmetric BadgeIn October 2015, ProQuest announced the addition of Altmetric badges to 360 Link and ProQuest databases.  On the abstract page of some scholarly journal articles in ProQuest databases will be displayed an Altmetric badge with basic details of the article’s reach on the Web.  Users can click through to see the complete details page [Altmetric.com version].

In February of this year ProQuest added altmetrics to its Summon service for free.  Libraries using Summon simply need to turn on the feature.  If available, search results will show an Altmetric score.  Hovering over this button (see below) shows more detailed counts.  Like above, users can click through to see the complete details page.  This same information can be displayed in the right-side preview panel.

Summon Search Results Altmetrics

Plum Analytics’ PlumX Metrics integrates with institutional repositories and categorizes metrics into five separate types:

  1. Usage – clicks, downloads, views, library holdings, video plays
  2. Captures – bookmarks, code forks, favorites, readers, watchers
  3. Mentions – blog posts, comments, reviews, Wikipedia links
  4. Social media – +1s, likes, shares, tweets
  5. Citations – PubMed Central, Scopus, patents

Unlike Altmetric, PlumX does not give a score.  At the bottom of the abstract and information page, PlumX displays a count of these metrics by category with a link to see details.

PlumX Institutional Repository Summary

Impactstory is another service providing altmetrics.  Its focus is on individuals who want to learn the impact of their research output. It’s an open-access website which you can access with an ORCID.

Resources

Here are some great online resources to learn about altmetrics:

Altmetrics: a Manifesto – Definitive post from altmetrics.org.

#altmetrics – Twitter hashtag.

Against the Grain – Link to the article “Altmetrics: Documenting the Story of Research” (2016).

arXiv – Link to the article “Altmetrics in the wild: Using social media to explore scholarly impact” (2012).

Impactstory blog – Link to blog post “4 things every librarian should do with altmetrics” (2014).

Mendeley Altmetrics Group – A group to “discuss new approaches to the assessment of scholarly impact based on new metrics.”

NISO Altmetrics Initiative – Project to create standards and best practices for altmetrics.

Here are some popular books about altmetrics:

Altmetrics by Robin Chin Roemer and Rachel Borchardt

AltmetricsThis title is actually an issue of Library Technology Reports from ALA Tech Source.  The report “outlines both the promises and major obstacles faced by the field of altmetrics” as well as covers the librarian’s role in providing education and support of altmetrics. Published in 2015.

View details and find a place to buy or borrow at Google Books.

Altmetrics: A Practical Guide for Librarians, Researchers and Academics edited by Andy Tattersall

Altmetrics: A Practical Guide for Librarians, Researchers and AcademicsThis forthcoming book gives an overview and the theory behind altmetrics.  It looks at the ways libraries can utilize altmetrics and educate researchers.  To be published in June 2016.

View details and find a place to buy or borrow at Google Books.

Altmetrics for Information Professionals: Past, Present and Future by Kim Johan Holmberg

Altmetrics for Information Professionals: Past, Present and FutureThis scholarly book looks at key altmetrics research innovations.  It presents the data sources used.  Finally, it looks to the future to determine alternative metric trends.  Published in 2015.

View details and find a place to buy or borrow at Google Books.