Improving discoverability

The discoverability of scholarly content is critically important in making high quality research findable and accessible.

SAGE has published a new white paper which explores recent developments in scholarly discoverability and identifies new opportunities for collaboration. Researchers interviewed 16 experts representing publishers, researchers and libraries.

The field of discoverability has moved on considerably since SAGE’s last white paper was published on the topic in 2012. What has emerged in the communities debating the topic is the difference between:

  • Discovery – the process/infrastructure required for users to find appropriate content; and
  • Discoverability – the measure of a content item’s integration into the infrastructure that maximises its chances of being found by a user

Key findings - Changing user behaviour is generating new collaborations

  • Publishers and libraries are working to ensure findability using 'traditional' channels such as A&I products and new pathways via mobile devices and social media
  • New products embrace collaborative standards – e.g. OpenURL
  • Multi-channel approaches to search
  • Quality metadata supports successful discovery
  • Publishers and libraries are facing new costs to facilitate content discovery and retrieval
  • Quantitative usage data alone does not measure the value of improved discoverability
  • A growing recognition of the importance of indexing
  • Several recent research projects highlight the challenges faced by researchers, including their lack of understanding about how search engines work and a reliance on 'whatever works'

Notable initiatives include:

  • Open Researchers and Contributor ID (ORCID), which assigns unique identifiers to entities or individual researchers
  • FundRef – which aims to streamline the discoverability of OA content

Recommendations for collaboration

  • Further work to widen the adoption of standards:  Publishers to integrate ORCIDs onto their platforms – and authors to register their works
  • Libraries to insist on standards fulfilment from publishers
  • Further research to be conducted into the economic/productivity impact of new discovery technologies
  • Publishers must invest in standards-compliant metadata
  • Libraries must share metadata performance data with publishers
  • New partnership opportunities will open up to break down the traditional content supply chain

The full White Paper (Collaborative Improvements in the Discoverability of Scholarly Content: Accomplishments, Aspirations and Opportunities) can be downloaded from the SAGE website.

Image courtesy of BAMCorp via Flickr.