ER&L 2010: Adventures at the Article Level

Speaker: Jamene Brooks-Kieffer

Article level, for those familiar with link resolvers, means the best link type to give to users. The article is the object of pursuit, and the library and the user collaborate on identifying it, locating it, and acquiring it.

In 1980, the only good article-level identification was the Medline ID. Users would need to go through a qualified Medline search to track down relevant articles, and the library would need the article level identifier to make a fast request from another library. Today, the user can search Medline on their own; use the OpenURL linking to get to the full text, print, or ILL request; and obtain the article from the source or ILL. Unlike in 1980, the user no longer needs to find the journal first to get to the article. Also, the librarian’s role is more in providing relevant metadata maintenance to give the user the tools to locate the articles themselves.

In thirty years, the library has moved from being a partner with the user in pursuit of the article to being the magician behind the curtain. Our magic is made possible by the technology we know but that our users do not know.

Unique identifiers solve the problem of making sure that you are retrieving the correct article. CrossRef can link to specific instances of items, but not necessarily the one the user has access to. The link resolver will use that DOI to find other instances of the article available to users of the library. Easy user authentication at the point of need is the final key to implementing article-level services.

One of the library’s biggest roles is facilitating access. It’s not as simple as setting up a link resolver – it must be maintained or the system will break down. Also, document delivery service provides an opportunity to generate goodwill between libraries and users. The next step is supporting the users preferred interface, through tools like LibX, Papers, Google Scholar link resolver integration, and mobile devices. The latter is the most difficult because much of the content is coming from outside service providers and the institutional support for developing applications or web interfaces.

We also need to consider how we deliver the articles users need. We need to evolve our acquisitions process. We need to be ready for article-level usage data, so we need to stop thinking about it as a single-institutional data problem. Aggregated data will help spot trends. Perhaps we could look at the ebook pay-as-you-use model for article-level acquisitions as well?

PIRUS & PIRUS 2 are projects to develop COUNTER-compliant article usage data for all article-hosting entities (both traditional publishers and institutional repositories). Projects like MESUR will inform these kinds of ventures.

Libraries need to be working on recommendation services. Amazon and Netflix are not flukes. Demand, adopt, and promote recommendation tools like bX or LibraryThing for Libraries.

Users are going beyond locating and acquiring the article to storing, discussing, and synthesizing the information. The library could facilitate that. We need something that lets the user connect with others, store articles, and review recommendations that the system provides. We have the technology (magic) to make it available right now: data storage, cloud applications, targeted recommendations, social networks, and pay-per-download.

How do we get there? Cover the basics of identify>locate>acquire. Demand tools that offer services beyond that, or sponsor the creation of desired tools and services. We also need to stay informed of relevant standards and recommendations.

Publishers will need to be a part of this conversation as well, of course. They need to develop models that allow us to retain access to purchased articles. If we are buying on the article level, what incentive is there to have a journal in the first place?

For tenure and promotion purposes, we need to start looking more at the impact factor of the article, not so much the journal-level impact. PLOS provides individual article metrics.