Search and discovery

In addition to the general ways in which content online is made discoverable, particularly by Google and other leading search engines, there are other ways in which usage of the repository can be maximised through improving its discoverability:

Web pages

One route to driving usage is via the web pages of individual researchers and those of schools and research centres. A list of publications which is automatically kept up to date by feeds from a central CRIS or research publications management system, but which also has links to the actual research itself, is a key benefit from an embedded repository.

Harvesting, SWORD, Linked Data

All repositories are committed to conformity with OAI-PMH to allow harvesting of metadata about their contents, but there are also other means of ensuring that content deposited in one repository is pushed to others (for example, though SWORD). Exposing repository records through Linked Data, is another route to making the repository more discoverable.

The Repository Junction project is also addressing the problem of making repositories a more integrated system. Open Access Repository Junction (OARJ) is a project to facilitate the deposit of outputs into more than one repository and to improve interoperability between repositories. This is to be achieved either by giving information to the depositor about suitable repositories for their output (based on metadata or the file itself) allowing them to control the process of deposit or through an automated ‘deposit broker’ service. This includes repositories in other countries.[1]

Specialist search for repositories

JISC funded a demonstrator search tool specifically for searching across institutional repositories, Institutional Repository Search. This employs text mining techniques and technology from Autonomy to build conceptual clusters of relevant results (rather than returning long lists of results from multiple IRs ranked by different criteria) and provide personalised alerts. This is still running. However, like many vertical or specialist search services, the difficulty is getting past the Google effect to draw attention to its existence. It is also confined to UK research.

A more recent development, funded by JISC, is the COnnecting REpositories tool or CORE which enables people to search the full text of items held in all 142 approved UK Open Access repositories. CORE is accessible via an online portal, via users’ mobile devices or through repositories and libraries that have integrated CORE with their own search features.

Next generation library discovery tools

There is generally a great deal of interest in the next generation of catalogues and discovery tools, partly to address the changing behaviour of the Google generation. As well as providing a more comprehensive search and access route for the user to the electronic resources to which the organisation subscribes some libraries have also seen Resource Discovery Platforms (RDPs), such as Serials Solutions’ Summon, as a way of bridging the gaps between the LMS and other digital collections within the institution, including the repository. Harvesting of records and de-duplication leads to a ‘best record’ available to the end-user.

The LMS providers have realised that their existing systems are not doing the job well, and have begun to provide tools which not only sit on top of their own systems but can be acquired independently of the underlying LMS. This may provide an opportunity to create an interface which can search across the library holdings and the repository in one operation.

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