Dialog has announced its "re-entry into the document delivery market" with an expansion of its Dialog SourceOne service. Dialog has increased the number and diversity of sources from which articles and reports can be ordered, and has improved the delivery process for documents, including patent documents from around the world. Delivery options include mail, express mail, or fax. An Adobe PDF via e-mail link is also an option, where available.
While Dialog hadn't stopped providing its document delivery service, the announcement serves notice that the company is serious in its commitment to furnish easy access to materials through this type of resource. Dialog has offered SourceOne for about 9 years. The January 1994 customer newsletter (Chronolog) announced its debut as a fax-based document delivery service for U.S. patents and selected ABI/INFORM (File 15) articles. Over the years and through a succession of company owners, the service was gradually expanded.
According to Paul Colucci, Dialog's senior vice president of product development, SourceOne "experienced a number of inefficiencies around January 2000," only some of which were related to Y2K issues. That was also the year that Thomson Corp. purchased Dialog's Information Services Division. "From that time on we were not as focused on that side of the business," he admitted. But he stressed that, since October 2001, the company has been working hard on a series of improvements that have addressed both performance and reliability concerns. While use had dropped off for a while, he said the service has now seen a steady increase in users, especially since the addition of PDF documents this past January.
In general SourceOne has expanded from its focus on patents to include other materials and is now available across all files. Articles, reports, and other documents can now be ordered from more than 10,000 scholarly and professional journals. Other available documents include legal materials, government reports, standards and specifications published by professional organizations, and reports issued by the United Nations. Dialog is now also offering an advanced fee-based reference service to locate hard-to-find titles not available from primary sources.
The ordering process for patent documents has been improved. Users of Dialog's services that employ command-line searching (such as DialogClassic, Dialog Web, and DialogClassic Web) can now utilize a new extension to the "order" command to order from search sets. This improvement speeds up the ordering process because users are no longer required to retype citation data.
Prices for each article consist of a base service fee of $12 plus a copyright royalty or copyright-cleared purchase charge (at an average of $15-$25/article), along with shipping charges. Express service is available for an additional $10 fee. Where available, e-DocLink (e-mailed links to PDF downloads) is $1. Fax delivery is available at $1 per page, and FedEx is $15.50 or the actual charge, if greater. New flat-rate price plans for patent documents have also recently been added as an option.
If searchers only need the full text of a document rather than the actual page image, they should be wary about placing a document delivery request for an item that might be available in full text—for a much lower cost—within another Dialog file. When Barbara Quint reported in February (http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleID=17245) about Dialog's new E-journal linking, which provides full linking from citations appearing in abstracting-and-indexing databases to electronic versions of the journals, she noted this limitation: "Searchers who locate a citation in one database that matches an article carried by Dialog in a separate full-text database have never been able to simply instruct the system to ‘fetch' the full text. Instead, they have to make separate individual searches for each article retrieved. The system will not even alert them to the availability of the full-text article in another file." According to Colucci, the company is still "investigating better ways of linking amongst our files."