April 25, 2018

Maximizing Access and Collecting/Analyzing Data via Discovery Products: Q & A with ProQuest’s Andrew Nagy

Andrew NagyLJ, in cooperation with ER & L (Electronic Resources & Libraries), is presenting a series of three free webcasts focusing on best practices for Data-Driven Academic Libraries. ProQuest is the presenting sponsor of the series, and LJ reached out to Andrew Nagy, a Senior Product Manager, Discovery Services at Serials Solutions, for a vendor perspective on this essential best practice.

LJ: Is there research to show how discovery services help libraries maximize access to content? How is ProQuest supporting its academic library customers in this effort?

Andrew Nagy: Summon discovery service customers have shared results of their own research studies, which they have employed to demonstrate how our service increased usage of resources. Research by Doug Way at Grand Valley State University, an early adopters of the Summon service, revealed that in the first four months after implementation, database use saw a significant boost, from a 92 percent usage increase of Academic Search Premier to 179 percent for General OneFile to 354 percent for ABI/INFORM. Other libraries continue to report significant returns on investment (ROI) for their discovery service, including the University of Michigan, the University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries, and Metropolitan State University.

ProQuest’s Summon service is built on single, unified index architecture. Leveraging our match-and-merge technology, Summon combines full text and metadata—from multiple sources—to create a single record optimized for discovery. This approach supports discovery regardless of where the library purchased the resource or which provider hosts it. It also ensures that results are not biased towards any particular provider or vendor. This means all content in a library’s collections has an equal chance of being discovered and used.

LJ: What sorts of options does ProQuest’s Summon service offer to libraries who want to understand how it is being used? What sorts of discovery products and measurement tools have been most embraced by your academic library customers?

AN: Libraries have access to several usage reports, including top search queries, usage breakdown by time of day, number of searches, and more via an administrative console. Beyond these reports, libraries are also developing and analyzing their own  user surveys, focus groups, interviews, and task analysis (Virginia Tech); web server logs (University of Michigan); guerilla analytics (Grand Valley State University); and data from Google Analytics (North Carolina State University). Of course, understanding how users are interacting with the discovery service is only one aspect of interest.

For more on ProQuest’s role in supporting data-driven academic libraries, see also, Supporting Data-Driven Academic Library Collections and Services: Q&A with ProQuest’s Mark Tullos.

Libraries are also looking at database, e-journal, and ebook COUNTER statistics to gauge the impact on electronic resources use. Many of our customers have embraced analytic services such as 360 Counter to help determine cost per use. As libraries adopt more comprehensive assessment services such as Intota Assessment, they can take advantage of a more robust suite of “business intelligence” tools with granular reporting. They can incorporate statistics from their OPAC, digital collection management systems and institutional repositories to assess the impact of discovery on use of their local collections as well, both physical and electronic.

LJ: How is ProQuest using data to improve the discovery experience?

AN: Delivered as a software as a service (SaaS) solution, at the core of the Summon service is a single, unified index. This unique architecture allows us to gather and analyze user behavior data from the hundreds of millions of Summon searches performed by millions of users. That all users search across the same unified index, no matter how customized their local Summon site might be, is the key to capturing meaningful and interpretable data.

At the ELAG conference in May 2013, I shared data demonstrating that 45 percent of Summon searches are one to three word queries, with a long tail of much longer queries. There are two main types of searches: short broad topical queries and multi-term focused queries. Some of the most common searches in the Summon service are broad, topical things like “early childhood development,” “human resource management,” or “cloud computing.” By combining data analysis and usability testing, we’re able to develop features and enhancements that address the observed search behaviors.

Development of some of the latest features of the Summon service have been informed by this type of analysis, including Related Search Suggestions, Automated Query Expansion, and the Summon Topic Explorer. Leveraging real-time, global Summon usage data, the Related Search Suggestions feature encourages users to expand their queries, which can lead to better research outcomes. And being data-driven, these features are rapidly and continuously fine-tuned to improve over time.

LJ: As Big Data management and access becomes an increasing funder mandate and role of libraries, what role will discovery services play?

AN: Over the past several years, the role of the library in the research process has been changing. Researchers, and research offices, are increasingly turning to the library for assistance and support in preserving and providing access to research data and datasets as well as  the dissemination and discovery of their research output. Future requirements (emanating from government and foundation funders of research) will continue to drive this trend.

Discovery services play a key role in helping libraries to make valuable research content discoverable.. The Summon service ingests content from institutional repositories, as well as open access repositories, and makes it available to potential users not only at the contributing institution, but by researchers at any institution using Summon.. By including the intellectual output of the library’s academic community in the Summon service, libraries can broaden the reach of research and support the changing research landscape.

LJ: What other trends in data collection and analytics for academic libraries, if any, would you like to share with our readers? How is ProQuest positioning itself to respond?

AN: Discovery services do more than provide a single search box and simplify access to content. Discovery services advance the library’s mission. They enable libraries  to impact the research experience and guide users to better learning outcomes. A statistically significant relationship (however, not causal) across a number of universities between library resource use and student attainment has been demonstrated in recent research funded by JISC and managed by the University of Huddersfield (UK). It’s exciting to think that by helping to increase visibility and usage of library resources, discovery services can help libraries in supporting research and learning at their academic institutions.

Andrew Nagy is a Senior Product Manager, Discovery Services at Serials Solutions. Andrew was instrumental in the development and launch of the Summon discovery service. Currently he oversees the search platform, user experience, and its API, and collaborates with other internal teams to enhance the service. He also is the liaison with the Summon client community, is active in user group meetings, and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences.

Andrew’s education includes a B.S., Information Management and Technology from Syracuse University, and an M.S., Computer Science and Master of Technology Management from Villanova University.

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