Does anybody else out there read the InfoToday newsbreaks or EcontentMag regularly? Information Today, Inc. hosts these great news services – you can subscribe via e-mail or get them in your RSS reader. Whenever I find out about a new development from a “non-patent” search provider, chances are it’s on their news feeds. There are lots of recent developments in the non-patent arena that I wanted to highlight: Wiley replaces Interscience with a new platform, Elsevier releases SciVerse to aggregate all of their science search platforms, and ProQuest rolls out the much anticipated “ProQuest Dialog” platform.
First, Wiley Interscience is being replaced by the Wiley Online Library, a new free souped-up search interface for Wiley content. You can watch a Youtube video with a demo of the site here. The redesign includes more personalization features, a “minimal design,” and faceted navigation.
Wiley offers a lot of content through its online library, with a subject emphasis on life, health, and physical sciences – and it’s nice to get to search all that for free, even if the results are behind a pay wall. Of course, as I understand it, the drawback to searching any publisher’s online database is that you’re only getting material from one publisher, which obviously excludes all kinds of relevant but competing journals. Naturally, you could always even your search out by querying other free publishers’ search platforms (e.g. ScienceDirect or SpringerLink), but that kind of jumping around can take time. There is some question about how much of the material in these platforms is also indexed by web search engines such as Google Scholar, since nobody can give a precise answer to what Scholar contains. Interestingly, the Wiley video clearly shows that their content is being indexed by Google, and that one of the focuses of this redesign effort was to make further navigation from the landing pages much easier.
Rather than searching in a publisher’s database, another approach would be to search in a subject-specific database on one of the major database aggregators such as Dialog, STN, or Ovid. Or, you could consider subscribing to one of the major cross-publisher scientific literature search platforms, Thomson Reuters’ ISI Web of Science or Elsevier’s Scopus. If these options are getting bewildering, it’s only because this is the perfect example of why it’s so difficult to navigate the fragmented world of scientific information. The astonishing array of available platforms and underlying data content makes it very difficult to conduct a comprehensive literature search.
Which leads me to our next news item: SciVerse. Elsevier has tried to address the multiple platform problem by simplifying access to their family of products through one content hub, which they have named SciVerse. This platform will provide a single point of access to ScienceDirect, Scopus, and Scirus (say that five times fast). Apparently, not only will the hub combine search hits from all three sources, but will also link related resources from the various systems together at the article level, which sounds like a pretty high level of integration. To further promote the use of their content, Elsevier is releasing their content APIs to individual researchers who want to build their own search applications, which seems to me to be a pretty savvy move (by the way, API stands for “application programming interface” – you can read more on Wikipedia).
The final big news item is about – yep, yet another search platform we all have to be aware of. ProQuest Dialog has been released with an initial content set of interest to biomedical and pharmaceutical researchers, although more content will be added as the tool is developed further. I think a lot of people are going to sit up and take notice of this new product, because from what I’ve seen it’s going to be by far the most usable of the Dialog family of interfaces, and we all know that Dialog is still a content monster (with an unfortunate reputation as a usability dinosaur). I’ve seen a live demo, and my overall impression was very positive.
Those were the news items that jumped out at me recently, and I think we’re in for a lot more platform releases. As Paula J. Hane put it in her recent Wiley review, “Under increasing pressures from new web technologies and user expectations of simplicity and easy access, content providers have taken on re-engineering and rebuilding their services from the ground up.” And by the way, as far as I can tell, faceted navigation is being adopted by almost all of these re-design teams (for an example, check out this section on the Intellogist Engineering Village report).
What are the most exciting trends in non-patent literature searching that you’ve observed? Any releases you’re particularly excited about?
This post was contributed by Intellogist Team member Kristin Whitman.