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May 25, 2006

Engineering Village 2™ Wins 2006 Codie Award for Best Content Aggregation Service

.: Excerpt from the press release:

New York, N.Y., 22 May 2006 - Engineering Information (www.ei.org) announced today the selection of the Engineering Village 2 discovery platform as the winner of the Software and Information Industry Association's (SIIA) 21st annual Codie Awards in the category of “Best Content Aggregation Service.” The Codie Awards recognize outstanding achievement in the software and information industries.

Engineering Village 2™ is the premiere web-based research and discovery platform specialized for the information needs of engineers and engineering researchers. The platform integrates premium engineering content databases and utilizes faceted search technology to provide users with greater intelligence throughout the search and discovery process. Premium data sources include Compendex®, Inspec® and patents databases.

Established in 1986, the Codie Awards is the longest-running awards program in the software and information industry, and acknowledges the most innovative products and services. The Codie Awards utilize journalist and peer-company review to identify leaders and innovators across the software, digital content and education technology industries. This year the SIIA received 1,026 nominations from over 500 companies for 71 award categories. Category winners were announced at the 21st Annual Codie Awards Gala held at the Westin San Francisco on May 16th.

The complete list of the 2006 Codie Award Winners is divided into four industry sub-categories: software, content, education, and corporate.

Any comments I give about EV2 and its products must be prefaced by noting that I am the Chair of the Engineering Information Scope and Coverage Committee. That said, I want to congratulate Rafael Sidi and his team for this well-deserved accolade. EV2 has been at the forefront of innovation, developing and releasing features such as faceted searching and embedded RSS feeds into search strategies. I keep waiting for other major db developers to do the same, especially with the RSS feeds, but to date, I am not aware of any others offering a feature of such utility.

April 27, 2006

New Hosted Patents Search Offering Introduced on Engineering Village 2™

.: Ei, Engineering Information, has launched its Ei Patents service on the Engineering Village 2 plaftorm. From the 24 April 2006 press release:

New York, N.Y. 24 April 2006 – Engineering Information (Ei) announces the introduction of Ei Patents to the Engineering Village 2 research and discovery platform. Ei Patents provides engineering researchers and scientists with an unmatched level of technical intelligence by utilizing powerful search functions and analytical tools alongside patents and databases of scientific literature. Ei Patents consists of patent applications and grants from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and European Patent Office (EPO).

Ei Patents addresses the need of scientists and engineering researchers to derive scientific and technical knowledge from patent literature. "Patents are a unique content source for technology and competitive intelligence as they often contain scientific information not published elsewhere" said Rafael Sidi, Vice President of Product Development, Engineering Information. "In the hands of engineers and researchers, products providing more meaningful access to patent information can accelerate problem solving, new product development and innovation."

Continue reading "New Hosted Patents Search Offering Introduced on Engineering Village 2™" »

March 9, 2006

"Time-out Sucks" or, How To Turn a Customer Complaint Into A Positive and Productive Experience

.: My friend and colleague, Rafael Sidi, Product Manager of Engineering Village 2, illustrates how the receipt of an angry e-mail from a user of his product can be turned around into something productive and positive. Excerpt:

This was the subject of an email that I got from one Engineering Village user. And the student was absolutely right, if I were in his place I would have sent similar email.

Below you'll find some of the correspondence (with his permission) that I had with this Student. I think one of the beauty of this open conversation is at the end the customer who was initially upset with your poduct is telling you how to enhance the product. In graduate school, one of my professors used to emphasize that we should "trust the process"; my motto in product development and business has been "trust the customer, they will tell you what is right and wrong and help you to create a better product.

Another lesson for me: We all talk about "workflow" (and sometimes we abuse the term) and about integrating our products into the "workflow" of our customers. I wonder how many of us thought that lunch break was in the workflow of our customers.

February 28, 2006

Engineering Village 2 Enhancements

.: I'm late getting to this announcement, which is a month old. Check out the "What's New" section of the latest Ei Update, which includes information on the new Ei Patents database, enhancements to the faceted search feature, and improved de-duplication functionality. I've been demonstrating faceted searching in all of the engineering design classes in which I teach library and research skills sessions, and have received positive feedback from students along the way.

From the Ei Update, an excerpt from the news about Ei Patents:

Ei Patents includes bibliographic information from the United Stated Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) dating from 1790, and the European Patent Office database, Esp@cenet dating from 1978. With Engineering Village 2’s unique analysis tools researchers can view at-a-glance, the Document Types (U.S./E.U. applications and Grants), Inventors, Assignees, Patent Codes with descriptions, Country, Year, and Language, of the patents. Search results are presented in clusters, or Faceted Search Results that allow a quick and straightforward view of leading inventors, technologies, countries, etc. Patent searches can be combined with our engineering databases, Compendex, Inspec, and NTIS, to offer unprecedented coverage of engineering information.

By using the facets, researchers can focus a search on U.S. and/or E.U. patents, discover the leading inventor/s, and even see what companies are leading in patents in a given field. This level of competitive intelligence allows researchers to save time and resources by dedicating their efforts on projects that are unique concepts that may lead to their own patents.

July 13, 2005

Ei Update v3 n2 July/Aug 2005 now available

:: The latest issue of Ei Update, v2 n3 Jul/Aug 2005, is now available. Reports cover new features including: faceted searching now available in Quick and Expert Search modes, new Blog This functionality, new titles added to Referex, and more. The improved faceted search and blogging features will be available in the July 18 2005 EV2 release.

June 7, 2005

Forthcoming Engineering Village 2 Upgrades and New Features

:: At a meeting today at the SLA Conference in Toronto, the following upgrades and new features to EV2 were announced for Summer 2005:

  • The "faceted search" function will be added to the Quick and Expert search options
  • EV2 RSS feeds will be pushed out to all EV2 subscribers/customers
  • A new feature, "Blog This Record", will be released; users will be able to select records one at a time, and send each record to their blogs
  • A new patent search function will be launched in EV2, initially covering the Esp@canet and USPTO dbs. Forward and backward patent searching will be available, meaning that searchers can link to publications cited by and citing the patent. Non-patent references will link to records in Compendex, Inspec or NTIS if they exist in any or all of these dbs. If a citing or cited non-patent reference isn't indexed in one of these three dbs, EV2 will try to link to the article using CrossRef.
  • In Fall 2005, the deduplication function, used when cross-db searching in EV2, will be enhanced
  • The Ei Thesaurus will be updated in 2006

April 14, 2005

Digital Rights Management and Referex

:: We have been interested for some time in subscribing to Referex Engineering, the online full-text reference collection from Engineering Information:

Referex Engineering comprises three carefully crafted collections combining key sources of reference material. Content ranges from broad based engineering titles to highly specialized professional reference texts, provided an extensive and detailed base of reference material to support researchers, academics, R&D engineers, technicians and corporate engineers alike in their diverse work processes.
The three subject areas are Chemical, Petrochemical and Process, Mechanical and Materials, and Electronics and Electrical, all areas of great interest to us. To date, we have subscribed to Knovel, and a number of CRCnetBASE collections including ENG, CHEM, MATERIALS, NANO, ENVIRO, and FOOD.

We were hoping to add Referex to our collection, which would have made it stronger and of increased relevance to our engineering community, one of the most prestigious in North America at the moment. But the DRM (Digital Rights Management) component, which severely restricts access to Referex, has made the decision to subscribe to Referex untenable, and for now, we are reluctantly passing on subscribing to what appears to be a great product.

The DRM used by Referex is called WebPublisher3. It requires a plug-in to be installed on any computer accessing Referex. What the FAQ about DRM in Referex Engineering states is that authenticated users can copy, print, save and e-mail Referex content as pdf files, and these saved files can be opened on any computer which is authenticated to use Referex. But if working with an offline computer like a laptop, users must be on the computer they used to save the file(s) to view them. In other words, if a user saves a pdf file to a smart key or disc, and then tries to open it later on a laptop which isn't connected to a network, it won't open. However, we learned subsequently that a document saved can only be viewed on the machine used to access Referex and download the information, an even more severe restriction. Consider how impossible this would be to manage in a library with dozens of PAC stations on multiple floors. Each time someone used Referex, they would need to be aware, almost inherently, that to view the document they just saved, they would need to return to the same machine to view it. Word is, however, that Ei is working with the DRM software vendor to allow for more flexibility.

Another drawback is that Referex won't work on Mac computers, effectively eliminating (and alienating) a number of our users.

The plug-in is also of concern. My understanding is that IT staff would need to install the plug-in on every PAC station in every library, something that would take an enormous amount of time, energy, money and staff. I have been waiting for confirmation that this is what would need to be done, but am hoping I am wrong, and that the plug-in could be installed on a LAN.

With DRM added into Referex, my sense is that the product may have been designed with Ei's corporate clients in mind, rather than those of us in universities, colleges and engineering schools. DRM in Referex doesn't allow for use by students who will migrate from machine to machine.

I am a huge fan of Ei products, and have worked with Ei since 1993 in an advisory capacity. We are heavy users of Compendex, and have been spreading the word about its new RSS feeds option to our users. I'm hoping Ei can sort through this and make Referex more attractive and useful to those of us in libraries with a large user base. Knovel and CRC Press have been able to do it without any problems of which I am aware, and we are pleased with both products regarding access concerns. In the meantime, is anyone out there in academic libraries using Referex? If so, how have you worked around these issues?

Meantime, read the paper, Digital Rights Management: A failure in the developed world, a danger to the developing world (pdf or html), from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

April 8, 2005

Taking RSS and Faceted Searching Into The Engineering Classroom

:: With the advent of faceted searching and RSS feeds in Engineering Village 2, the onus to spread the word falls upon, among others, liaison librarians working in engineering and its sub-disciplines. My subject and liaison responsibilities are chemical and materials engineering, mechanical engineering, nanotechnology, and engineering management on my campus. (Aside: a new responsibility includes providing similar liaison services to the fledgling U of A Space Research group.)

Engineering Village 2 has moved ahead of other db producers in offering RSS feeds. With prompting from academic librarians (among others), Rafael Sidi & Co ensured that the EV2 RSS feeds would work within Bloglines, a welcome development indeed.

Yesterday, I gave my annual information resources lecture to graduate students and faculty in Mechanical Engineering. It was the first opportunity I had to present the RSS function within EV2 to a captive audience decidedly interested in these new features. In my lectures, I have 50 minutes to cover everything - library services, databases of relevance, resource guides, etc. I decided that in order to do this properly, and not alienate or confuse the audience, I would need to spend the majority of the lecture covering EV2's new offerings of faceted searching and RSS feeds.

A major concern for those of us who want our users to try the new EV2 features is that the majority of said users haven't used, or even heard of either of them, certainly not faceted searching. Can we reasonably expect to introduce RSS as well as the new faceted search feature within EV2, in what amounts to about 30 minutes of a 50-minute lecture, and do it successfully? To put it another way, I didn't want to look at any member of the audience at the end of the RSS/faceted search portion of my presentation, and find myself staring into the eyes of a chicken, eyes glazed over, no comprehension achieved whatsoever.

I spent time considering the best way to do this. I worked with my 2004 powerpoint slides, eliminated some of them, redesigned the others, eliminated some slides altogether, and created two ppt slides to use to explain faceted searching and RSS in EV2. I decided the best way to approach this (gently), would be to review the Compendex db, also mention Inspec and NTIS, because all three are searchable when you begin an "Easy Search" within EV2, and then briefly explain faceted searching. I used this slide for support, and then switched to a live search on Compendex.

Beginning the search, I mentioned that when you choose Compendex, EV2 opens in Quick Search mode, defaulting to Compendex only (Inspec and NTIS remain unchecked). I explained that to get to the faceted search feature, you need to switch to Easy Search. Once there, I began a search with the phrase self-assembly, and added Controlled Vocabulary terms monolayers, substrates, and nanostructured materials. During this process, I took the time to describe the faceted search feature by explaining the facets or clusters, in the right-hand column of the search, including Controlled Vocabulary, Author, Date, Language, etc. I wanted to ensure that the class understood the faceted searching function before moving on to RSS.

Having reached that point, it was time to move on to RSS. I switched back to ppt, and displayed this slide, created to explain RSS without causing weeping and gnashing of teeth. I tried to avoid all jargon and acronymns, and introduced Bloglines without discussing blogs in detail, but instead focusing on its function as an RSS feeds reader. I returned to EV2, clicked on the RSS button for the above search, and showed the class the long, unintelligble URL that pops up, advising them not to be concerned about its size or what it means. I switched to Bloglines, and logged into an account I had created for the class, into which I had already embedded two EV2 searches, so that they could see examples of using RSS. I cut and pasted the URL from the live EV2 search into Bloglines, to illustrate how to "subscribe" to an RSS feed, and finally, briefly demonstrated the "edit" function within Bloglines, which allows the user to change a feed description that looks something like: "( (self assembly) AND (({monolayers}) WN CV) AND (({substrates}) WN CV) AND ..... ", and change it something like "Self assembly and monolayers with substrates."

At that point I stopped, and ask the class something like, "So, what do you think? Does the use of faceted searching, and embedding an RSS feed in Bloglines make sense, based on what I presented to you? Are you still with me" Heads nodded in the affirmative, and I ended by referring the class to a handout I created to help them use Easy Search to get to the faceted searching functionality of EV2, and to them take an RSS feed and use it in Bloglines. After the class, I spoke to interested students for another 30 minutes. The full ppt presentation used in the mech eng graduate class is here.

I felt that the way I approached the lecture, i.e., how I presented the concepts of faceted searching and RSS with Bloglines - slowly and at a very basic level (not discussing blogs, for example), worked quite well. It was a gamble - I'd not presented something like this before, and I had to give it my best shot. I share my experience here because others may be considering presentations of a similar nature in their classes, and I think it's something we need to be doing anyway. One hopes that EV2 is but the first of many, if not all, major databases to offer RSS feeds with search results. The question is, what's taking the rest of them so long?

March 16, 2005

Latest Ei Update Available, Featuring Yrs Truly

:: The March/April 2005, v3 n1 issue of Ei Update is available for viewing, featuring updates on faceted searching and the forthcoming study: Role of Information in Innovation 2005. The Librarian's Corner for this issue was written my your humble engineering librarian-type weblogger, and is called RSS: Moving Into the Mainstream.

February 4, 2005

Engineering Village 2 - Minor Anomalies With Truncation

:: In a previous post, I waxed eloquent about the new changes to EV2, unveiled last month by Engineering Information Inc. One of the (very welcome) upgrades I noted was the ability to truncate to a single character, using the wildcard character, "?", i.e., search equation?, and EV2 would return results with equation or equations in the records.

Upon closer inspection, however, I discovered that the wildcard is used to replace a single character only, rather than allow for zero-to-one character replacement. From the EV2 site:

Use wildcard (?) to replace a single character.
This morning, I was helping a chem eng student search for the phrase, osmotic virial equation, using Easy Search. The phrase returned 117 records in a combined Compendex and Inspec search. Assuming the "?" would return both equation and equations in the results, we searched the phrase, osmotic virial equation?, in Easy Search. The resulting set was 80 records, much to my surprise. We checked the 80 records, and discovered that each of them had the word "equations" somewhere in the record. However, the remaining 37 records did not, confirming that the "?" is always searching for one extra character, not zero or one extra character.

To add to this equation (no pun intended, I think!), EV2 has an autostemming feature that can be turned on or off - it defaults to on - which seems to mimic the truncation symbol, "*". EV2 describes the truncation function as:

Use truncation (*) to search for words that begin with the same letters.
comput* returns computer, computers, computerize, computerization
EV2 describes the autostemming function as:
Terms are automatically stemmed, except in the author field, unless the "Autostemming off" feature is checked.
management returns manage, managed, manager, managers, managing, management
I don't see a difference between the two functions, which I believe could cause some confusion for the user.

Using a different example, consider the word cat, which can cause all kinds of problems for the searcher. In a db where the "?" truncates zero or one character, a search on cat? would return cat or cats. Where the asterisk returns zero-to-unlimited characters, search cat*, and the results would include cat, cats, cathode, catalysis, catastrophe, catch, catalogue, catatonic, cattle, etc.

I searched cat on EV2 (Quick Search, Compendex/Inspec combined) in the following ways, with the following results:

  1. cat - Autostemming on: 166108 records found in Compendex & Inspec for: ((cat) WN All fields), 1969-2005
  2. cat - Autostemming off: 164303 records found in Compendex & Inspec for: ((cat) WN All fields), 1969-2005
  3. cat? - Autostemming on: 9893 records found in Compendex & Inspec for: ((cat?) WN All fields), 1969-2005
  4. cat? - Autostemming off: 9893 records found in Compendex & Inspec for: ((cat?) WN All fields), 1969-2005
  5. cat* - Autostemming on: 818875 records found in Compendex & Inspec for: ((cat?) WN All fields), 1969-2005
  6. cat* - Autostemming off: 818875 records found in Compendex & Inspec for: ((cat*) WN All fields), 1969-2005
What is evident from the results is that use of either the truncation or wildcard symbol overrides the autostemming function.

Of note is that the use of the wildcard function as a single character replacement, rather than a zero-to-one character replacement, is not endemic to EV2. CSA Cambridge Scientific Abstracts uses it the same way, as does Web of Science. However, Web of Science allows for all three options:

The asterisk (*) represents zero to multiple characters.
The question mark stands for one character. The dollar sign stands for one character or no characters.
The SilverPlatter WebSPIRS platform uses "*" for zero-to-unlimited truncation, and the "?" for zero-to-one character truncation. The OVID platform also allows for the three options, but with a different character set (dollar sign, question mark, hash mark.)

Comments: Truncation and wildcard functionality are important options for searchers. In my experience though, most students and researchers seldom use truncation, because generally they aren't thinking of plurals or variant spellings of words, or are not aware the option exists in the database they are searching. As such, I'd like to see a simplification of truncation/wildcard functionality in EV2, and by extention, in most if not all databases. (I know, that is truly wishful thinking!)

Options to consider for EV2:

  • Allow the wildcard symbol, ?, to work as a zero-to-one character function, or introduce a third symbol to do this, if it is considered important to retain single-character truncation;
  • Reconsider the autostemming function. How valuable is it to the user if the user does not know it is working, or does not know what its function is from the outset of the search? I don't believe the average user twigs to this option, even if it is already on;
  • Eliminate left-side, or prefix truncation. It would never occur to me that $catal would return catalyis, catalyses, catalytic, etc.
  • Allow for the use of the same truncation/wildcard functions across all three EV2 search options, Easy, Quick and Expert.
Of course, this is just my opinion, I could be wrong. :-)

Despite the foregoing observations, I very much like the new changes to EV2, especially the faceted searching, which will expand to Quick Search and Expert Search sometime in the near future. I demonstrated faceted searching yesterday afternoon to 70+ graduates and faculty in Chemical and Materials Engineering on campus, and they were suitably impressed. I have more suggestions for improvements to the search function on EV2, but that can wait for another post sometime soon.

January 20, 2005

Engineering Village 2 Upgrade

:: Engineering Information released its latest upgrades to Engineering Village 2 last week, on January 13th, 2005. The major enhancement was the introduction of Easy Search with faceted searching features. Easy Search presents the user with a small, single search box, similar to other search engines, with no options for limiting or qualifying your search. From the EV2 Help window:

Easy search is designed for very simple basic keyword searching. Search terms are entered into a single search box. Easy Search searches all databases your institution may subscribe to without limits applied.

Enter search terms in the search box. A search is performed on all indexed fields of all subscribed bibliographic databases, including Compendex, Engineering Index Backfile, Inspec, Inspec Archive, and NTIS. No limits are placed on the search.
Having tried a few search strategies on Easy Search (ES), I can say that generally, with some reservations, I like it, especially the faceted search function. As noted, when you begin a search on the ES page, you are presented with no options, only the search box, and tabs to other EV2 functions, like Quick Search and Expert Search. (The page appears to be almost blank, perhaps an intentional presentation by the EV2 staff. The user, with no options before the search, can only type the search question, and is offered a multitude after the search begins.) The user types in the term or phrase, and clicks on "Search". A link to Help is provided, which opens up a different window, and goes to the section of the Help page quoted above. Oddly enough, no explanation of the faceted search function is provided. My reaction is that perhaps Ei felt that an explanation might be too much information for the user, and lead to some confusion. Instead, let the user experience faceted searching without knowing that's what it's called.

On the results screen, records appear in citation format. The option to remove duplicates is available, as is the option to view the results from any one of the databases searched, i.e., if you wish to view the results from Compendex only, the option is there. Results are returned in relevance order, with other sorting options being date, author, source and publisher. New to EV2 is the aforementioned faceted searching - a right side column appears on the ES results screen, offering a array of options for further refining of search results. Categories include database, author, controlled vocabulary, classification code, document type, language, year, and publisher.

Once you choose an option from the Refine Results column, a "search path" is created, or as Ei calls it, a "breadcrumb" above the search results, which limits your search by combining the breadcrumb with your original results. In this example, I searched the phrase "hydrocarbon catalytic cracking". I restricted the search to results from Compendex, and chose "zeolites" and "paraffins" to further refine the search. The search path appears in ES as: [x]hydrocarbon catalytic cracking > [x]Compendex > [x]Zeolites > [x]Paraffins. Results were reduced to 23 records, a very manageable set. To eliminate a term, click on the red x, to the left of each term. Click on the term or phrase itself, and all subsequent terms are removed from the search path.


refine3.jpg



Faceted searching provides the user with the option to "dynamically navigate content", as described by Rafael Sidi, VP Publishing. The option to refine one's search with controlled vocabulary terms is a great feature - users may refine their searches with established and relevant subject terms from the Ei thesaurus (and the Inspec thesaurus, etc.) Without necessarily knowing they are doing so, users are creating a narrower but more relevant literature search result. The challenge to librarians is to get the word out to our users and encourage them to try it, and provide feedback. Well done, Ei!

Regarding "Relevance", or the option to sort results by relevancy, I have never been a fan of this feature, primarily because I could never find an explanation for what it meant on any database that offered it. However, EV2 does provide an explanation of their algorithm:

The relevance sort is based on an algorithm that takes into account the following:
  • Whether the words are found as an exact phrase or separately
  • When words are found separately, closer proximity ranks higher
  • The number of times that the word/phrase appears in the record
  • The word's location within the document (words found at the beginning of the field rank higher than words found towards the end)
  • Whether the words are found within fields designated as particularly relevant, i.e., the title field
  • How often the word appears in the database as a whole (words used often are less relevant than words that are less common)
With a better understanding of the algorithm used, I am more inclined at this point to give the benefit of the doubt to sorting results by relevance. I will try a few searches, and see where it goes. My experience is that researchers most often want the newest results, rather than one from 14 years ago that happens to include exactly the phrases and terms they just searched.

At long last, the ability to truncate to a single character, using the "?" symbol, is now available (*applause*)! Other new features that add to the integrity of the product include the elimination of drop-down menus, and the ability to resort from the results page, both welcomed enhancements.

As for a few reservations, I will qualify that here. These are a few suggested changes I'd like to see implemented, or at least considered, for future EV2 enhancements:
  1. Extend the faceted search function to Quick and Expert Search modes. (This is coming!)
  2. Allow the user to switch display formats without having to choose individual citations, or all on the page. Let the option default to the entire set if none is chosen.
  3. The "Refine Search" option needs, well, to be refined further, and I am not referring to the faceted search column that appears on the ES page. Within the ES results page, the user can click on "Refine Search". However, the search box is even smaller than the one first seen by the user choosing ES - it is approximately 25 characters wide. Click on "Refine Search", and your initial search query reappears in this smaller window. Add a search term or phrase, and you cannot read your entire search strategy, because it won't fit in the window. This isn't a big deal, but it would make search refining a little easier if the user could see what was being added.
  4. Provide a link to the explanation of "Relevance", whenever this option is available to the user. A better understanding of its meaning may encourage its use.
  5. Regarding Search History, the only option at the moment is to clear every query in the set - if you have 20 search statements, they all stay or they all go. The option to clear selected statements would help searchers when refining a strategy.
I'm exhausted, and I have a session in one hour with 60 graduate students in Engineering Management. They will get a brief look at Easy Search. Wish me luck.

POSTSCRIPT: It's Friday morning, 21 Jan 2005. Yesterday evening I presented an information resources session to graduate students in Engineering Management, and highlighted the new ES and faceted search function of EV2. The class was impressed, and a number of students mentioned they would try using it in the near future.

January 6, 2005

Release Date of EV2 Upgrade: 13 January 2005

:: Details of the impending upgrade to EV2 are available in an e-mail sent today to Engineering Village 2 customers:

As announced in December 2004, a significant new release of Engineering Village 2 is coming. The January 2005 release of Engineering Village 2 will be implemented on January 13th, 2005. This latest release contains exciting new enhancements that you should be aware of, as they will impact how you and your users interact with Engineering Village 2. While changes are intuitive product improvements, it is recommended that you read this announcement carefully to remain abreast of these changes.

The January 2005 enhancements include:

Beta introduction of Easy Search with faceted searching. A new search tab titled Easy Search will be made available and consist of a single web-like search box. . Searches will be performed against all fields of your institutions subscribed bibliographic databases. Users are then presented with results including a sidebar of facets or clusters, displaying groupings of terms present within the result lists. Users will be able to view groups of results clustered by data fields and further refine their searches by selecting clusters to explore further. Among the fields available for clustering are Database, Author, Controlled Vocabulary, Classification Code and Document Type. The introduction of Easy Search with faceted searching provide users with deeper disclosure into their result sets and offers simple tools for further search refinement.

As Easy Search with faceted searching is being released as a beta version, we encourage users to provide their thoughts and feedback.

The database select drop down menu has been replaced. To accommodate the growing list of available data sources available on Engineering Village 2, the database select drop down menu on the Quick Search and Expert Search screens has been replaced. Check boxes will appear at the top of these search forms, allowing users to select the entitled bibliographic sources they wish to search. This new layout more readily presents users with their database choices and makes it easier to select additional databases for multiple database searching.

Data sources linked to through Engineering Village 2 (including IHS Standards, GlobalSpec, Scirus, USPTO) can now be reached via a list of More Search Sources appearing at the bottom left hand side of the Quick Search and Expert Search search screens.

The Ask an Expert tab replaces the Reference Services tab. By default customers will continue to have access to Ask an Engineer and Ask a Librarian services under this new heading. Library customers may now choose to have user questions redirected to their own reference desk instead of the experts at Ei.

Continue reading "Release Date of EV2 Upgrade: 13 January 2005" »

December 20, 2004

Engineering Index Backfile Completed

:: From the v2 n6, Dec 2004 Ei Update:

After more than 18 months of development, the Engineering Index Backfile, the electronic alternative for accessing hard to find historical information has now been completed.

Engineering Index Backfile users will have access to over 1.7 million historical references that cover virtually every major engineering innovation from 1884 through 1969. When the Engineering Index Backfile is combined with the Compendex Database it will provide the most comprehensive overview of the last 120 years of engineering literature.

Access to the Engineering Index Backfile will provide users with references that have never been available electronically. For example, a reference from September 24, 1896 gives an account of a new bridge linking Brooklyn, NY and Manhattan. From December 1, 1901, Wilbur Wright addresses the difficulties regarding the building of the first plane.

The Engineering Index Backfile is available exclusively on Engineering Village 2. For additional information including trialing the product, please contact the Ei Customer Support Team at eicustomersupport@elsevier.com.

December 16, 2004

Enhancements Coming to EV2

:: The latest version of Engineering Village 2 is scheduled for release in mid-January 2005. Details of the forthcoming enhancements are available at Librarian's Corner, at Ei Update. The major change is the introduction of Faceted searching - from the "Corner":

Once you have search results, you will be able to refine your search based on facets. The facets that will be available are database, author, controlled vocabulary, classification code, document type, language, publication year and publisher. In faceted searching, the information from the search results is presented in clusters (facets) with the terms having the largest number of hits shown first for each cluster. From these clusters, you will be able to determine the most prolific authors, the most used controlled vocabulary, the most common classification codes, the number of results for each database as well as the most common document types, languages, years of publication and publishers.

With this feature, you will have new ways to look at and explore your results. The information provided in the clusters may suggest new avenues to explore. Faceted searching brings the information behind the records in front of your eyes. Used intelligently, the information provided in the clusters should bring more insights to your search area.

Faceted searching has emerged as a hot new area in the field of information technology fueled by the ever increasing power in search engines. Rather than refining a search by adding keywords or other fields, faceted searching provides a dynamic visual way to refine results and explore what is available in the database. Faceted searching builds on the value added indexing and classification of data common to bibliographic databases such as Compendex, Inspec and NTIS. The information in fields formatted by the database producers, such as author names, controlled vocabulary, publication year, publisher, etc, lends itself to faceted searches.

Another change is Easy Search - this will now consist of a single search box, allowing searching across all indexed fields of all bibliographic databases without limits.

I'm looking forward to seeing a more robust and user-friendly version of EV2. Other changes scheduled for 2005 include:

  • Limit by Year Default - Customers can set their default beginning search year to the earliest supported in the database
  • Auto-Stemming - Customers can request this default to be on or off
  • Wildcards - New multi-character wildcards will be supported
  • Database Selection Redesign - In Quick and Expert Searches, the database select pulldown will be replaced with checkfields and external content links
  • Sorting - Customers will be able to set their pre-search default to Date or Relevance via a backoffice option
  • Full Text Links at the Citation - Customers can provide text or graphical Local Holdings or OpenURL links to Ei for deployment at the citation level. This includes links to OPAC's or OpenURL link resolvers
For more information, please contact Rafael Sidi at r.sidi AT elsevier.com.