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OUs full text search system makes huge leaps in widening access to academic papers

KMi Reporter, Wednesday 24 October 2012 | Annotate
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The Open University has widened access to academic research material – available through its Open Access search facility CORE– thanks to technical leaps in this innovative system created by the OU’s Knowledge Media Institute (KMi).

CORE – which stands for Connecting Repositories - has seen unprecedented success in the past year and has more than tripled in size, now offering content from a global network of repositories, freely available to scholars worldwide.

CORE – COnnecting REpositories – provides a large easy-to-search database to help academics, researchers and students to find, explore and download research papers. When the service was first launched in 2011 CORE could source material in 60 repositories – today it aggregates data from over 230 internationally plus content from thousands of Open Access journals acquired through the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). This means the service holds more than nine million metadata items and about half a million full text files. Funding from JISC is permitting the project to develop further analytical processes with DiggiCORE project, which will utilise social media tools.

Unlike other Open Access scholarly search systems, CORE also aggregates the full-text files, and not only metadata, and therefore ensures the publication full-texts are freely available for download. Users of commercial academic search systems, such as Google Scholar, can be denied access to the full article, particularly when subscription fees are required. This is often frustrating for scholars. CORE specialises in searches of the full-text items held in approved Open Access repositories, ensuring a vastly improved level of accessibility for users. Anyone searching for full texts on CORE will therefore be able to download all content they discover.

CORE offers a unique application interface (API) that makes it possible for others to easily build applications utilising the Open Access content. The CORE API has a lot potential. “For example, it allowed us to build an application that enables people to search for Open Access content from mobile devices or to develop a content recommendation plug in for libraries,” says Peter Knoth, the software designer and founder of the CORE system.

The reason for CORE’s success rise is clear, says Peter: “A huge amount of research papers has been available online as Open Access, but there was limited technical infrastructure that would support different kinds of users in exploiting it. CORE is not only a search system, it is a free platform for developing applications that need access to the full-text of research articles. A very large amount of data is now available through the CORE API. The CORE Linked Open Data repository has this month already grown to 100 million RDF triples making it by far the largest Linked Open Data repository at the Open University.
“CORE has created a resource which offers some intriguing possibilities. The API to the aggregation puts this valuable information into the hands of researchers and developers and offers them the chance to use it in new and better ways.” says Andy McGregor, the JISC manager of the Resource Discovery programme.
“The strength of CORE is that it can be applied in multiple scenarios. In addition to searching for scientific publications, we expect the CORE infrastructure to be used for analytical and research purposes, ” says Zdenek Zdrahal, the director of the CORE project.

“The CORE platform has become a basis for the development of new services and motivates further research,” says Zdenek. In the currently running JISC funded DiggiCORE project, which is a collaboration of the Open University and the European Library, the CORE system is used as a platform for analysing networks of research publications to help better understand the properties of high impact publications and influential authors. But components of the CORE system are also likely to find its use in future projects.
CORE is now available for flexible use online and on mobile devices and tablets and is already benefiting journals, scholars, at conferences and as technical support answering the demand for Open Access to academic research papers.

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