- Product Trial
I and some of my staff have had the pleasure to work closely with Grace Baysinger, Head Librarian and
Bibliographer of the Swain Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Library at Stanford University, to develop a unique research gateway focused on chemical safety.
My relationship with Grace goes back two decades when I developed SciSearch@LANL, a precursor to Web of Science for Los Alamos National Laboratory and Grace was our customer representative at Stanford.
More recently we have worked closely with Grace on development of xSearch (Stanford’s name for Explorit Everywhere!, our largest federated search implementation.
I have asked Grace to give us an overview of this important chemical safety resource that we have developed together.
While chemists are one of the most intensive users of information, many are unfamiliar with chemical safety resources they should consult before working in the lab. Chemists consulting materials safety data sheets or safety data sheets (MSDS/SDS) discover that they often have “NA” or not available for physical properties that they need for their lab work.
Grace’s goal in working with Deep Web Technologies was to develop a research gateway that provides access to a wide collection of information sources focused on chemical safety. This gateway uses federated search technology, the ability to search multiple sources at one time, which helps users find the information they need more effectively and efficiently. It is possible to view results visually, move to a particular resource in the search results, and to set up an alert to be notified when new information is published on a topic. Common search terms include chemical name, CAS Registry Number, and searching topics using keywords. If a resource contains InChI or SMILES values for a chemical substance, it may be used as a search term too.
Moving soon from prototype to production, the Stanford University version of the chem safety gateway will be a collaborative effort between the Stanford University Libraries and Stanford Environmental Health and Safety. This gateway has 60+ information sources that includes SDS/MSDS, safety data, syntheses and reactions databases, citation databases, full-text eBooks and eJournals, plus a number of Health & Environmental Safety (EH&S) websites. While the SDS/MSDS and safety data resources form the core of this collection, curated databases such as Organic Syntheses, Organic Reactions, Science of Synthesis, Merck Index, Reaxys, and the e-EROS (Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis) include protocols and safety information that is useful to bench chemists. eBooks and eJournals are full-text searchable, allowing researchers to find property and safety information in handbooks and methods and protocols in journal articles. EH&S websites from selected universities plus websites for the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety, ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety, and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board will help users discover information such as training materials, standard operating procedures, and lessons learned. Search results for a chemical name search also include the “Chemical Box” from Wikipedia in the right column.
At the ACS National Spring 2016 Meeting held in San Diego, Grace and colleagues from Stanford’s EH&S Unit gave a presentation on Using a chemical inventory system to optimize safe laboratory research in a Division of Chemical Health and Safety symposium. The first part of this presentation covers ChemTracker and the latter part (starting on slide 23) shows screen shots of the Stanford Chem Safety Gateway. Slide 24 has a list of the resources being searched in the Stanford gateway. For a current list of resources, please see Grace’s recent blog entry, Chemical safety resource gateway available.
Grace then helped the DWT team develop a public version of the Chem Safety Gateway that is available to test-drive at:
This public site searches a subset of the sources that are searched at the Stanford site as DWT is not able to search subscription sources through their public site.
Please test-drive the public version of the Explorit Everywhere! Chem Safety Gateway and give Abe feedback as to how useful it is to be able to search a broad set of chemical safety resources at the same time. Be sure to register (not required to search) to use the Alerts and MyLibrary features. Did you find that the gateway returned relevant results? What sources (subscription or public) would you add to make this gateway even better? Do you have any other suggestions for improving the gateway?
Please email your feedback to email@example.com
A couple of months ago I came across the claim that we are generating 2.5 billion GB of new data every day and thought that I should write a fun little blog article about this claim. Here it is.
This claim, repeated by many, is attributed to IBM’s 2013 Annual Report. In this report, IBM claims that in 2012 2.5 billion GB of data was generated every day of which 80% of this data is unstructured and includes audio, video, sensor data and social media as some of the newer contributions to this deluge of data being generated. IBM also claims in this report that by 2015 1 trillion connected objects and devices will be generating data across our planet.
So how big is a billion GB? A billion GB is an Exabyte (a 1 followed by 18 zeros), i.e., 1000 petabytes or 1,000,000 terabytes.
My research took me to this article in Scientific American — What is the Memory Capacity of the Human Brain? which I pursued to try to put into context all the huge numbers I’ve been throwing around. Professor of Psychology Paul Reber estimates that:
The human brain consists of about one billion neurons. Each neuron forms about 1,000 connections to other neurons, amounting to more than a trillion connections. If each neuron could only help store a single memory, running out of space would be a problem. You might have only a few gigabytes of storage space, similar to the space in an iPod or a USB flash drive. Yet neurons combine so that each one helps with many memories at a time, exponentially increasing the brain’s memory storage capacity to something closer to around 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes).
So if I’m doing my math right, the 2.5 billion GB of information generated daily could be stored by 1,000 human brains and human memory capacity is still way higher than our electronic storage capacity.
My research then took me to this interesting blog article from 2015 – Surprising Facts and Stats About The Big Data Industry. Some of the facts and stats that I found most interesting in their infographic include:
- Google is the largest ‘big data’ company in the world, processing 3.5 billion requests per day, storing 10 Exabytes of data.
- Amazon hosts the most servers of any company, estimated at 1,400,000 servers with Google and Microsoft close behind.
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) are used by 60,000 companies and field more than 650,000 requests every second. It is estimated that 1/3 of all Internet users use a website hosted on AWS daily, and that 1% of all Internet traffic goes through Amazon.
- Facebook collects 500 terabytes of data daily, including 2.5 billion pieces of content, 2.7 billion likes and 300 million photos.
- 90% of all the data in the world was produced in the last 2 years.
- It is estimated that 40 Zettabytes (40,000 Exabytes) of data will be created by 2020.
Another interesting infographic on how much data was generated every minute in 2014 by some of our favorite web applications is available at – Data Never sleeps 2.0.
I would be remiss if I didn’t tie my blog article to what we do at Deep Web Technologies. So please take a look at our marketing piece – Take on Big Data & Web Sources with Deep Web Technologies. We’d love to hear from you and explore how we can feed content and data from a myriad of disparate sources to your big data analytics engine on the back end as well as explore how we can enhance the insights derived by your big data solutions by providing real-time access to content that complement these insights.
Congratulations to Dr. Ellen Wilson (Ellee), our VP of Professional Services and Engineering, and a new PhD recipient. Ellee walked the PhD ceremony at her alma mater, Pacifica Graduate Institute, on Sunday, May 29, no doubt breathing a huge sigh of relief as she wrapped up this milestone achievement.
Deep Web Technologies hires smart people; we have smart engineers, smart project managers, smart leaders. But Ellee just may be at the top of the list. While her day job may be to guide the ebb and flow of DWT’s team, projects, and software development, her real passion is depth psychology, the exploration of theories and ideas delving into the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious.
Ellee’s dissertation didn’t just add a new set of letters behind her name; her line of exploration is unique to the realm of depth psychology. She presents credible research and ideas about how the world imprints itself on people, tying the order of mathematics throughout history and the present day to the chaos of a more sensory-based world. Are you interested how the development of non-Euclidean geometry created a diversion in the linear focus at the time and contributed to a multiplistic expression of human thought and experience? So is Dr. Ellen Wilson.
Don’t think that receiving her PhD is the end of the line for Ellee. From a very young age, Ellee has been driven to explore what makes us tick. She has multitudinous degrees, ranging from Women’s Studies, Mathematics, and Computer Engineering to Library and Information Science, and now, Depth Psychology. Her PhD may just be her intellectual fulcrum, harnessing her past and funneling it into a rich, erudite future.
DWT is proud to have Ellee on our staff.
Learning Management Systems (LMS) are web based technologies used to offer online classes. The most common LMS are Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle, and Brightspace (previously known as Desire2Learn). And there are many more edging into the market because the idea of providing an online educational portal is really taking off. It’s one of the fastest-growing markets out there!
These LMS are used not only for online classes, but also for the traditional, face-to-face classrooms as an online portal for managing course materials, for offering bulletin boards for online discussions, and for turning in assignments. Given this growing, ubiquitous need for any classroom (including K-12, corporate, etc.) to cultivate an online presence, you would think that one of the central features of these LMS would be to allow for easy incorporation of the library into their online portals since every learning setting has one. But alas, this is far from the truth. In fact, it’s just the opposite. (See Libraries in the Learning Management System, Farkas, 2015)
For most of these LMS, they have no easy user interface modules that allow instructors to include library tools such as access to librarians (e.g., Ask a Librarian), subject focused web pages (e.g., LibGuides), much less a module for students to search the school catalog and the numerous available research databases. Often the best the instructors can offer is a link to the library website as an additional resource. The goal, however, should be to bring the library into these online portals, not have the student leave them.
At Deep Web Technologies, we have been researching how to improve this situation for our customers since the primary goal of our federated search tool, Explorit Everywhere!, is to help librarians provide students with easy, quick, and direct access to their subscription content. We found that for most LMS, if they have tools to support third-party content, it is an additional cost to access these features to incorporate library materials. Then, after the school does add these additional LMS features, the librarian has to do further work to get access to the course management interfaces and do the work to develop these modules. Once all of this is in place, the librarians will most likely need to work with the instructors to coordinate adding their library tools to their course management pages. Obviously, such an ordeal does not scale for the hundreds of instructors at larger institutions.
Every LMS should automatically support incorporating the library as one of their base features. For any LMS, it should be easy for an instructor to configure an Explorit Everywhere! Search widget so students have easy access to the library’s catalog and subscription content. Moveover, the instructor can use the Explorit Everywhere! Search Builder to customize their search widget to search specific course-related databases. Librarians work hard to make their library useful and patron-friendly. Learning Management Systems need to work with them, not put up more barriers.
This past weekend I was writing an email message to one of our new customers. I was sending this customer, as promised,
some example uses of Search Builder, our Explorit Everywhere! tool that makes it easy to create custom search widgets that can be dropped on any web page.
I started my quest for Search Builder widgets by going to the library website of one of our favorite customers, the University of the Arts, London (UAL). UAL is one of our favorite customers, in part, because they do a lot to promote Explorit Everywhere! to their faculty and students across their 6 colleges.
I digress, but last December (2015) I had the pleasure to attend the User Conference for one of our partners, PTFS Europe, and at this conference Paul Mellinger, Discovery Manager at the UAL Library gave a wonderful presentation on their implementation of Explorit Everywhere! and followed that with a guest article on the Customer Corner section of our company blog.
Back to the task at hand, I went to UAL’s Library Subject Guides page and found that they have created 39 subject guides on subjects such as Beauty and Cosmetic Sciences, Graphic Design and Jewellery, subjects that parallel the way that they have organized the sources that we federate for them. If you go into many of these subject guides then click on the e-Resources tab you’ll see at the top left of the page an Articles Plus Search widget (this is what UAL calls Explorit Everywhere!). Each of the widgets on the various e-Resources pages searches a different, appropriate subset of all the sources that we federate for them.
Then to top it off, I came across the Articles Plus Help subject guide (which I had not seen before), a wonderful guide, nicely organized into tabs for Simple Search, Advanced Search, Search Results and Tools and Navigation. Also added recently to this subject guide is a 3 and a half minute video tutorial on Articles Plus. This is why we love UAL!!
Every morning I wake up to a number of Alerts generated by a number of our portals including Biznar, Mednar and Science.gov. Yesterday morning one alert with the title – Is Google good enough for Medicine – caught my attention.
In their editorial commentary in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 3 medical professionals from down-under talk about how Google (now a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary) is changing the way that doctors practice medicine.
Here’s one anecdote that Dr. Cindy Shin-Yi Lin and her colleagues relate that I found interesting (and scary):
“In a recent letter, a rheumatologist describes a scene at rounds where a professor asked the presenting fellow to explain how he arrived at his diagnosis, ‘I entered the salient features into Google, and [the diagnosis] popped right up’.”
The authors of the editorial also talk about:
“Most clinicians will be familiar with the increasingly frequent scenario of a patient entering the consult room with a sizeable stack of printed webpages containing symptoms, pictures and a dreaded list of potential (and often grave) diagnoses that will undoubtedly commit the clinician to an arduous task of analyzing (and not infrequently, refuting) this information with the ‘cyberchondriac’ patient.”
If this topic interests you check out this blog article that we published last year – Relying on Google for Science Information is Bad for your Health, and if you want to bring more authoritative stacks of paper to your physician in your next visit try out our freely available medical research site, Mednar which searches 40+ sources of quality medical information all at the same time.
Oh, and I love that mug!!
Problem – Your Explorit Everywhere! solution (particularly at academic institutions) is typically setup to search a wide spectrum of sources that aren’t always relevant to every researcher or student. Special groups (e.g. the Chemistry Department, the Psychology 101 course, or the High Energy Physics Division within a research lab) may prefer to search only a handful of resources, and don’t want to be overwhelmed by results from irrelevant sources. Sound familiar?
Our elegant solution – Explorit Everywhere! Search Builder
Each Explorit Everywhere! application comes loaded with Search Builder, a search engine creation tool designed to create custom search engines that only search the specific sources your user group needs. For example, an instructor teaching a class on Computer Programming may want students to research responsive design using four selected resources. Rather than tutoring the class in how to use their Explorit Everywhere! Advanced Search and limit the search to the four relevant resources, the instructor can simply create a search engine designed for his students that only search those resources the students should search. Then, he can place a search box to this new engine on his course page to make it even easier for his students.
There are some Deep Web Technologies customers that create, use, and market only Search Builder engines engines that only search the specific sources your user group needs. For example, an instructor teaching a class on Computer Programming may want students to research responsive design using four selected resources. Rather than tutoring the class in how to use their Explorit Everywhere! Advanced Search and limit the search to the four relevant resources, the instructor can simply create a search engine designed for his students that only search those resources the students should search. Then, he can place a search box to this new engine on his course page to make it even easier for his students.
Search Builder can create unlimited search engines for one person, groups, teams or even enterprises. Admins can build search engines for each department, students can create their own search portal with a personalized search box, professors can modify search engines for their classes, and teams can search the most relevant resources and delve into their critical materials most efficiently.
Search Builder can be integrated into:
- Learning Management Systems
- Corporate Portal
- CRM Systems
Help your researchers be be efficient – Use Search Builder. And, if your organization uses one of the pesky Discovery Services which don’t allow, or at least don’t make it easy to limit your search to relevant resources, Search Builder is a great reason to switch to Explorit Everywhere!
I just came across this Fall 2014 survey conducted by one of our competitors who shall remain nameless (at least until you click on the link at the end of this blog post) which I found interesting and wanted to share with our readers.
Our competitor surveyed members of SLA (Special Library Association), mostly members of the PHT (Pharmaceutical & Health Technology) Division on whether they use federated search today and if not would they find federated search useful and what features would such a federated search solution need to have.
Question 2 of the 6 question survey asked – “Does your information center provide a ‘federated search’ function that allows users to search *all* of your organization’s online content resources with a single query? 81% of the respondents said “No”.
Explanations as to why federated search has not been more adopted in pharmaceutical companies, even though these companies have a wealth of content to access (and accessing this content is not so easy), seems to have to do at least to a large extent, with the lack of IT cooperation with the Knowledge Management or Information Services Group.
Marydee Ojala, Editor-in-Chief of Online Searcher and one of my favorite people at Information points out that:
“Searchability of electronic resources has long been piecemeal, but a federated search solution must take into account the IT infrastructure already in place.”
I have certainly been on a number of prospect calls which included IT where the was a lack of understanding of the power of federated search and a reluctance to add yet another tool to the set of tools/software that IT needs to support. What I propose to many prospects is that we start with a solution that is hosted by us in the cloud, minimizing the involvement of IT. Once the value of our service is proven to our customer if they now want to add internal content to their Explorit Everywhere! subscription and public content that we are searching from the cloud then we can move our solution to servers sitting behind the customer’s firewall.
When asked in question 5 of the survey, what respondents thought were the main drawbacks of not having federated search, the answers – which I was very happy to see – included:
87.50 % — Time spent looking multiple places for information
71.88 % — Missed information / opportunities due to “inexpert searching”
68.75 % — Reduced usage of online information sources
65.63 % — Over-reliance on search engines as primary research tool
All-in-all this is a very interesting survey. The survey results and analysis is available starting on page 18 of the Fall 2014 CapLits newsletter.
A couple of weeks ago I woke up to an email message from one of our partners in Europe asking if we could federate the enclosed list of sources for one of their prospects. Before I had a chance to respond to his message, my partner followed with a second email saying that he forgot to include the prospect’s EBSCO Discovery Service as one of the sources for us to federate. As I reviewed the list of sources that we would need to federate for this prospect I found that a couple of these sources were Ex-Libris Primo Discovery Services.
What a great example of potential co-opetition, or “cooperating with one’s competitors”. In this case, co-opetition with EBSCO and Ex-Libris (now part of ProQuest) to build a comprehensive solution for a customer that provides one-stop access to content from 3 different Discovery Services as well as some additional sources, something that neither EBSCO nor Ex-Libris could do. This use case gives new meaning to my earlier blog post on Federating the Un-Federatable.
Taking a look at the major Discovery Services we find that Summon has always been a pure Discovery Service, choosing not to complement their Discovery Service with federated search (even though they acquired two federated search companies – WebFeat and Serials Solutions). EDS and Primo have been hybrid services, enabling, although not so well, federation of sources not available in their indices. We’ve seen both EDS and Primo de-emphasize federated search in their Discovery Service, perhaps because federated search is not so easy to do well if it is not your product’s primary focus. OCLC’s WorldCat Discovery Service does not incorporate federation as part of their Discovery Service.
So this opportunity to build a solution for this project that federates 3 Discovery Services and some other sources has energized me, David, to reach out once again to the Discovery Services Goliaths. I have had numerous conversations with customers and prospects where I have heard repeatedly that important content is missing from their Discovery Service. I want to see if now is a good time to do some co-opetition that is a win-win for everyone, especially for the user who wants one-stop access to all of the content that they need and doesn’t care how that content is aggregated.