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Elsevier Enhances Scopus
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Posted On July 18, 2005
Scopus, the abstract and indexing (A&I) database of scientific, technological, and medical research information developed last year by Elsevier, has apparently beat all expectations for the success of its market adoption. In June, 6 months after its launch, the company announced it had signed its 500th customer. And, following an agreement with the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC; http://www.jisc.ac.uk), more than 60 universities in the U.K. are now taking part in the introductory offer for Scopus. Today, July 18, Scopus is announcing a range of new updates and features that further its mission of providing an easy-to-use, comprehensive system for conducting scientific research. The product is not viewed as a stand-alone, but rather as one that fits within the research process and supports the workflow by seamlessly integrating third-party research tools. New features being introduced include close integration with RefWorks, the bibliographic management tool from CSA; interoperability with the chemical structure searching in MDL's CrossFire Commander; and several content integration enhancements.

In November 2004, Elsevier launched Scopus, its ambitious project designed in close collaboration with librarians and researchers that promised to be the most comprehensive STM database. (See the launch report at http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleID=16330 and a NewsBreak on the announcement of the new service at http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleID=16494.] At the time, Elsevier said that it aimed to make the Scopus service "as easy to use as Google," with fewer clicks to the full text than any service available. Since then, Scopus has been building on its foundation and adding enhancements to accelerate and simplify the research experience. 

From an initial 13,000 titles, the service has grown to cover more than 14,200 titles from 4,000-plus publishers. The service now has nearly 28 million records—up from 27 million—and adds more daily. The plan is to add a million to a million and a half records each year. Elsevier is establishing an external independent content selection committee, comprising 20 scientists and 10 subject librarians, who will consider suggestions and prioritize the addition of new sources.

"Scopus' major strengths are its subject coverage and its intuitive, well-designed interface," said David Clay, science librarian at the University of Liverpool's Harold Cohen Library. "Scopus has made the process of analyzing and then refining search results much easier and more user-friendly. Our users are certainly impressed with Scopus, making it clear that it should be a permanent subscription."

In late June, Scopus announced a partnership with RefWorks. According to Elsevier representatives, RefWorks is the most advanced bibliographic management tool on the market and the only tool that is Web-based. Now, taking advantage of the tight integration implemented between Scopus and RefWorks, users can move seamlessly between the two research tools. Researchers can go straight from results on Scopus to storing them in RefWorks or, while in RefWorks, initiate a search in Scopus. Real-time interaction between the systems means a user can find out instantly how often selected articles in RefWorks have been cited, in which publication, by whom, and even if new citations have been made since they last looked.

"This is an extremely exciting breakthrough. This integration is proof that researchers can achieve real time savings when vendors cooperate," said Marshall Clinton, director of Information Technology Services at University of Toronto Library, which was a participant in the first test group for the new service. "Scopus and RefWorks are setting the right example for the industry."

Equally impressive is the integration with Elsevier MDL's CrossFire Commander (http://www.mdl.com), which provides searching of organic chemistry (CrossFire Beilstein) and inorganic, organometallic data (CrossFire Gmelin). Researchers who think in terms of chemical structures can now move seamlessly between text and graphical structure searching. Users of both services can start a search in Scopus and link to a visual display of chemical structures, reactions, and factual information. Users of CrossFire Commander can move back to Scopus to search for literature containing the chemical compound. This integration will be fully implemented by the end of July.

Scopus has also enhanced its customization and configuration options. Libraries can define and add an unlimited number of links (known as a "Library of Links"). Links can be to any source the customer defines. These can be defined by IP range so that different links can be seen by different departments or groups.

To further integrate within the library environment, Scopus has released its XML gateway for federated searching. The company said this is a more stable technology than using "screen scraping" or HTTP searching. ENCompass for Resource Access has already released its "configuration" to communicate with Scopus and MetaLib should be able to search Scopus by the end of July.

Scopus has also added new "View on Web" links that provide access to the full text of cited documents available online. Already 138,000 "View on Web" links are available, encompassing a wide range of document types, including theses, manuals, fact sheets, reports, standards, technical notes, and so on. Scopus expects to have more than 400,000 by the end of 2005. Scopus is manually inspecting each link to ensure that all of them are live.

Amy Knapp, assistant university librarian for public services and departmental libraries at the University of Pittsburgh, said that Scopus has not only been well-received at Pittsburgh, it's become indispensable for users. "Scopus has given us exactly what our users' were asking for—it's been a dream [product]." She said users particularly liked the one-stop shopping it offered—peer-reviewed articles and Web links, plus government and patent information. While she acknowledged that Thomson ISI has long been known for its developments and domination in the area of cited reference searching, she felt that Scopus seemed easier to use and teach for citation searching than Web of Science, which they also have and continue to use.

Looking forward, an Elsevier representative said that the company would work with existing customers to continue analyzing users' tasks and workflow and look to improve the compatibility of Scopus with other applications. The company is also interested in the possibilities for RSS, search agents, and other research desktop applications.


Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks.


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