Magazine article Information Today

Linking on Steroids

Magazine article Information Today

Linking on Steroids

Article excerpt

I wrote this column just before going to the Society for Scholarly Publishing's (SSP) 26th Annual Meeting. There, I spoke at a half-day seminar titled "Linking on Steroids" with my esteemed peers from the scholarly publishing world. We discussed the state of the art in Web linking from the perspective of authors, publishers, database aggregators, libraries, and end users. Clicking on http://hypatia.slis.hawaii.edu/~jacso/ssp/linking/linking.ppt will take you to my detailed PowerPoint presentation, which demonstrates the variety of links in different databases on different host systems. In this column, I'll provide some insights into the best and worst linking practices that I encountered in preparing for my seminar on link typology and topology.

The Power of Citation Linking

The backbone (and bane) of scholarly publishing is the set of references cited by authors and listed at the end of their works. These have become the primary links in publishers' digital archives, databases of A&I services, and aggregators' services. The greatest advancements in linking have been the links to cited and citing references, the technical counterparts of the intellectual acts of referring to other works, with possibly instant delivery of a full bibliographic record, the abstract of the cited record, or its full text. The last option depends on the subscription status of the users (typically their libraries) to the cited/citing source.

The links may be categorized according to their domain. Some are restricted to cited/citing works within the database. These intra-database links have been the most widely used by aggregators. Inter-database links within a host are more gratifying as they increase the chances of getting access to the abstract and/or full text of the cited/citing documents. The most powerful are the interhost links between, say, OCLC and EBSCO or Elsevier and Wiley.

Not only is the access to cited/citing documents subject to subscription status, sometimes it's also the tracing options. For example, only subscribers to the American Physical Society's (APS) archive can display the cited references. (The bibliographic citations and abstracts are free to everyone.) The Institute of Physics' (IoP) archive displays the cited references of articles for any user via its intelligent HyperCite technology. The IoP archive also includes links to its free abstracts and its sometimes free HTML/PDF articles. In addition, IoP also provides links to those archives/ databases that offer free abstracts (APS, ChemPort, PubMed) or free full text (PubMed Central and most preprint archives). IoP also includes links to subscription-based services (INSPEC, ScienceDirect, etc.) as well as to citing articles in a variety of databases similar to the cited articles. Many of the links are based on the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) and the services of CrossRef.

Among the inter-host links, one of the most powerful combinations is when a publisher links to citing and cited references as well as to related articles (which share one or more cited references with the article being consulted) in the gargantuan ISI Web of Science databases. Typically, these links are only offered if the user subscribes to the databases of both the linking and linked partners. However, Annual Reviews, Inc. offers these links (up to 10 citing and related articles in Web of Science) to anyone, even without registering with the Annual Reviews site. Believe me, the Annual Reviews are top-ranked publications in many disciplines. …

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