The Project

The University  Library of Tromsø has developed High North Research Documents, everyone’s tool for exploring research documents within the thematic scope of the high north.

High North Research Documents provides access to every open and freely accessible scholarly document relevant to the high north, and is a vital resource for education, outreach and communication about and in the region.

In Brief

The University Library of Tromsø has developed High North Research Documents, a service providing everybody free access to research documents within the thematic scope of the high north.

Open access to research documents is a strong and global trend. Being open access, the documents as well as the information about the documents are free to utilize.  High North RD takes advantage of this, and is determined to develop ever more sophisticated ways to help the high north-interested person finding the documents he or she needs.

High North RD is built on top of all the freely available research documents in the world through cooperation with Universität Bielefeld. The University Library at Bielefeld has long operated a service named BASE, where open access documents around the world are automatically harvested. Applying a simple but intelligent method, all documents relevant to the high north are extracted from BASE, and made available through the simple search interface of High North RD.

Methods

Common standards of metadata enable easy collection of documents from various sources. Services exist that collect all these open scholarly documents. From this pool of open documents, High North Research Documents use filtering terms to extract all documents relevant to the high north. The extraction algorithm is mostly done automatically, but includes also intellectual control. High North RD includes documents in any subject and produced at any research institution in the world. The method of automatic filtering heterogeneous metadata from a large number of information suppliers is to our knowledge new.

Results

From a pool of more than 2200 sources with more than 35 million open and freely available scholarly documents, High North Research Documents is now offering access to more than 150 000 documents with relevance to the high north region.

The global corpus of freely accessible documents is growing fast and will increase the number of documents in High North Research Documents.

Lessons learned

The reason why BASE is able to harvest the metadata from open access sources all over the world, is the existence of the OAI-PMH standard (Open Archives Initiative – Protocol for Metadata Harvesting), which is very commonly used by the open access sources. Unfortunately, some of these sources also include records without any full text documents, or where the documents have access restrictions. If these records are not easily identifiable in the metadata, which they seldom are, such non-open access records will be harvested along with the open access records. Thus, in both BASE and High North RD you may find records without any open access documents. We try our best to weed such records out of High North RD. We want High North RD to be a service where the documents are free to access.

The road ahead

High North Research Documents has a geographic scope of the circumpolar north. So far, the service has been developed at the University of Tromsø, Norway. In order to cover all areas of the north, we need to include knowledgeable persons from other institutions and other geographic areas. We therefore want to invite interested persons to join a team of editors. The task for the team will be to develop the extracting algorithm further, to become ever better in identifying the relevant documents to be included in High North RD. The work load for each involved will be very limited.

Financing

The project has received financial support of NOK 300 000 from the University, for which we are very grateful.

Leave a Reply