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Ovid Launches Portal Advantage Service with Medical Content
Posted On May 17, 2004
The quest for "mindshare" drives many organizations to expand their offerings well beyond locally controlled or created content. Ovid Technologies (, a Wolters Kluwer Health subsidiary, has announced a Portal Advantage Service "to help societies and publishing partners, independent journal publishers, foundations, and corporations to build fully customizable portals." Initially, the service will aim at providing medical content, Ovid's dominant market. Besides allowing content providers to re-deliver their own content, the service will expand access to new content and resources. In making the announcement, Ovid cited the new enLINK service, providing nutrition information to around 100 medical professionals around the world, from the Nestlé Foundation for the Study of Problems of Nutrition in the World. This represents Ovid's "first attempt to distance content from our front-end," according to Ezra Ernst, Ovid's vice president of online solutions.

Ovid's Portal Advantage Service incorporates design, hosting, and content selection from an array of full-text databases (both journals and books) and supports the addition of news feeds, scholarly society data, continuing medical education material, and other resources by clients. The core of Ovid's current offering consists of over 200 full-text journals from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins and Adis International.

At present, the service does not offer access to the full Ovid content collection (over 220 databases), but expansion of offerings is expected, according to Ernst. For example, he expects MEDLINE, a basic linking tool throughout Ovid's medical collection, to become the first bibliographic database tapped. Expansion to alternative Ovid sources will depend on what customers ask for. It could, for example, include a connection for users to the full-text Journals@Ovid service and pay-per-view options. Though Ernst expects the portal work will lead to some enhancements of Ovid's own content, the marketing strategy offers the service as private label branding.

The Portal Advantage Service incorporates collaboration, customization, and community features. According to Ernst, the service builds on software standards, such as WebLogic and Oracle. Ovid has geared up its staff to handle the consulting work and resource allocation involved in building client portals. Ernst said that he has about 40 technical experts—including content specialists, interface experts, customer support staff, etc.—in Ovid's Sandy, Utah, and New York offices, as well as access to around 600 Wolters Kluwer Health staff worldwide.

Customers for the Portal Advantage Service can choose from three packages of content and features:

  • The basic Express package offers full-text browsing, searching, viewing, and retrieval, plus eAlerts to notify readers when a new journal issue appears; forward linking connections to new citing articles; and relevance ranking of search results.
  • The Professional package adds options for more customization and additional content, including some editing and publishing automation. It will track online peer review, manage membership and financial reporting, support discussion forums, and add an ArticlePlus feature to support posting multimedia content and supplemental article information, such as editorial commentary, to enhance publications with Web-only content. The Professional package also archives abstract content, controls archive access, and authenticates referrals.
  • At the highest level, the Preferred package adds such services as CME testing, live discussion forums, classified ads, and patient case reports. Subscribers can use the Preferred package as an independent Web resource, opening it to nonmembers.

Portal Advantage Service clients are being encouraged to expand their Web offerings. In particular, Ernst anticipates that society publishers will enhance their conference coverage, loading PowerPoint presentations, audiotapes, conference proceedings, archives of conference abstracts, etc. Ernst expects sites to open up a lot of the new material to registered users for free, but retain the full text for members only. For expanded access, Ovid's service offers three options for handling copyright or licensing issues, according to Ernst—a link to the Copyright Clearance Center's RightsLink service, pay-per-view access, and full-text subscription support, e.g., link resolvers. Cost for the service can run anywhere from $10,000 a year to $300,000—400,000 a year.

In the future, Ovid plans to enhance functionality with such features as article pre-publication, allowing publishers to deliver tables of contents and selected articles to users online before print versions appear. Ernst expects that, in the case of publishers already contributing to Ovid's public service, enhanced content would also enter the full Ovid system, giving Ovid better versions of some sources than available elsewhere. I asked Ernst whether publishers trying to pull readers to their sites, in particular scholarly society publishers looking to promote membership with special content, might prefer to keep such enhanced data exclusive to their sites. He does not expect this to be a problem. "We give them a large royalty check, a new audience (13 million end users), and a large worldwide sales representation. The core value is guaranteed. It's a pretty good value proposition to take care of all your Internet needs in a one-stop shop."

The initial marketing will target existing Ovid partners, especially the 60 publishers contributing to Journals@Ovid, with a special emphasis on scholarly society publishers and unaffiliated journal publishers. Ernst expects that in time it will include general medical professional societies and some self-publishers. He also has high hopes for adoption of the service by European academic institutions that already are heavy users of Ovid products.

Ovid, an operating company of Wolters Kluwer Health (WKHealth), markets its services to academic institutions, medical schools, library consortia, hospitals, healthcare systems, pharmaceutical, engineering, and biotechnology companies. Subjects covered by Ovid stretch across all the life sciences, social sciences, information research and technology, engineering, and the physical sciences.

Barbara Quint was senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.

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