City Open Access

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News about City University's open access repository, philosophical musings about Open Access

Stat attack!

I’ve become a little bit obsessed with monitoring the statistics for City Research Online recently, particularly Google Analytics’ Real Time functionality, which allows you to see visitors as they look at the site in real time.

Obsession aside, we’ve reached a couple of milestones in the last week or so. First, we had our first 100-download day, which weirdly enough was last Saturday the 21st of April:

April 2012 download statistics

Second, we seem to now be attracting more than 100 individual visitors day on day for the first time, which I think is indicative of the increasing amounts of traffic we’re getting via search (inevitably largely Google). I think it probably also indicates that we’re getting indexed more often and more comprehensively by the big G.

It’s also further proof that material added to City Research Online really does get found, downloaded and (presumably) read, built upon and cited.

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City Research Online search functionality

We’ve just launched search functionality for publications data held in City Research Online. We’ve created a dedicated search page on the Research area of City’s website, as well as a supporting page with information about the service in general. This is the first time we’ve surfaced data from Symplectic (our Current Research Information System) to the web, and it took us a while to sort it out as well as some dedicated web development time, but we’re pleased with the results.

The search has been created by using Symplectic’s Application Programming Interface (API). The API pushes out “approved” (i.e. items validated by their author(s)) publications (in the form of citations plus abstracts) to a cache. The cache is then indexed and ranked by Funnelback, City’s corporate website’s indexing tool. The indexed data is then exposed to a keyword search via the form at the page linked to above.

There are a few features of the search, and the results it creates, worth flagging:

  • We have top-ranked search results where there are full text open access papers associated with those results. See, for example, a search for Jason Dykes’ publications– you’ll note that the first 40 or so hits allow you to click through to an openly accessible paper. This was done on the rationale that people are more likely to be interested in results with papers associated (and it doesn’t hurt or download statistics!)
  • As mentioned above, the search’s index includes abstracts, where present in the publication’s metadata. This means that search terms can sometimes appear a little fuzzy, particularly when you get towards the bottom of a list of hits- see for example this page, which is the fourth page of four when searching for the term “concrete”. We’re not too worried about this, given the propensity of searchers to only look at the first couple of pages of hits for any given search.
  • The advanced search is not particularly advanced. Our web developer is going to include a date range for results, but generally we weren’t looking to re-create a City version of e.g. Scopus, so we felt that relatively few advanced search options would be adequate.
  • We still need to do a bit of re-jigging of the formatting of the main search page, for example to include some text fields after the search form, to make the layout look a bit nicer. We’ve also included the service’s Twitter stream and an RSS feed of new items on this page, to give an idea of full text content being made live.

As ever, any feedback on any aspect of this new functionality much appreciated- you can email the team at publications@city.ac.uk.

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Business as usual

I became conscious we’ve not updated this blog in a while. This is because it has been business as usual, getting hold of and adding content to City Research Online. We’re now up to over 300 papers in the open access repository- not bad, considering in August we had nothing!

A few pieces of work we have in hand, or will be looking at in the New Year are worth mentioning:

  • Further integrating data from Symplectic and Eprints into City’s web presence, specifically the Research area of City’s website. We’re currently working on a publications search, allowing users to query our holdings in both Symplectic and Eprints.
  • In the New Year, we’ll start looking at using City Research Online to store and serve City’s PhD theses. This will be an interesting piece of work- the infrastructure side should be relatively straightforward, but the policy side of things (including intellectual property issues) will be more challenging.
  • We’re going to be examining whether Gold OA is something that we need to be more actively supporting at City, particularly in light of recent government pronouncements on this issue.
  • I would also like to do some scoping of the extent to which City is producing working paper series (I know of at least a couple), and if and how we might archive these series, or even support their publication.

Seasons greetings to our readers, see you in the New Year!

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City Research Online now being (fully?) web indexed

A couple of recent developments to report. City Research Online is now being indexed in a couple of the key discovery tools for open access repository content.

The first is the Big G’s Google Scholar, which (other than Google’s all-purpose search engine, which has already fully indexed our content) is THE key tool for discovery of repository content. It looks like Scholar is currently only partially indexing the content of CRO, but over time I would expect it to crawl and index the whole thing. This is crucially important for discovery, since Scholar is often the go-to tool for researchers looking to find scholarly material, and repository material gets highly ranked in Scholar. Here is an example of a search string which returns a CRO result.

The second is a more specialised tool, the BASE search engine. Run out of the University of Bielefeld in Germany, BASE indexes content of selected institutional and subject repositories, then allows cross-searching of all this material. Therefore, if you search BASE, you can be sure you’re searching quality content from a wide number of institutional repository sources. Here’s a link to all of City’s records in BASE.

We’re going to be keeping an eye on referrer statistics from Google Analytics to see what effect this has on repository use.

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