For now, anyone can do a search in the index to see how it works, but by the fall 2015 semester, institutions will need to license it to gain access. “We license it to libraries on an annual fee basis, and it’s branded for the library or the academic institution, and we’ll have, starting in September this year, an individual product that individuals can go in and buy access on an à la carte basis,” says Schwartz.
ACI is currently working on expanding its author information via crowdsourcing, which includes name, Klout score, position, education, and awards, as well as links to social media accounts (Academia.edu and LinkedIn profiles, etc.) and journal articles (with books forthcoming). ACI compiles this information from public sources, but authors have the option to submit information via the Suggest Improvements button on their profile page. Once they’re verified by ACI, they can add a photo, a short bio, a link to their curriculum vitae, and other updates. ACI “is in active conversations with a number of archiving services, and we’ll pick one soon to make sure that we’ll archive, but also we’ll have a backup archive … so we can preserve the scholarly record,” says Sabosik.
“We’ve added this author piece as sort of an add-on, and that’s turned out to be just as important as the actual blogs we have themselves,” says Schwartz.
Searching the Index
Researchers can begin using the index by typing a term in the search box. (An autocomplete feature suggests publications and topics.) In the search results list, options include sorting results by relevancy, date, or popularity; LC classification; author’s degree (e.g., Ph.D. or M.D.); or publication’s country.
The request to filter results by authors’ degrees came from an early trial user of the index, says Sabosik. “[F]or undergraduates who are searching, being able to limit their search, or filter their search … gives them the confidence that they’re getting the right sources, and it also gives some confidence to their professors that they’re not spending their time identifying sources that would not be accepted in any of the writing assignments that they have.”
Other filters include blog authors and related institutions to help students get to know the major writers in their field, as well as writers in fields related to their own. Students can use the related institutions list to pinpoint potential workplaces, and faculty members can use the authors list to see who’s writing a paper similar to theirs.
Users can export blog posts they find to citation managers, download PDF versions, or save them to Dropbox or Google Drive. “I think we’ve covered a wide landscape of workflow tools that our scholars said were important to them,” says Sabosik. Sharing options include Twitter, Facebook, and email. “A very helpful thing that ACI did, using the same technology we use for capturing and processing RSS feeds, is in your search results, we have our own RSS symbol that says Subscribe. So I could subscribe to this search” in an RSS reader to get posts as they update, she says.
Each set of results lists also displays how many posts are accessible as full text. Sabosik notes that ACI asks the authors it indexes for the full-text rights to their blogs and executes contracts for those rights. If they don’t have an agreement yet, ACI’s algorithm provides an abstract of each post and a link back to the original blog for the full text. If they do have an agreement, the full text of the blog is imported via RSS feed and can be read on ACI’s site or viewed on the original blog.
“We’re very respectful of copyright. So this is all done by indexing in place,” says Schwartz. “[W]e don’t take in the content, store it, do anything with it. … A lot of companies out there will do these abstracts, and actually take into the database the content from the blogs … we’re actually taking you to the site and driving the traffic to the site.”