Preparing for ALA Panel and Federated Search Neutrality

This post was written by Abe on May 31, 2011
Posted Under: Federated Search,View from Inside

As is usual for me I’m up early this morning after the three day Memorial Day weekend, going through my Biznar Alerts, and I run into this interesting blog post:

Net Neutrality and Federating Searching

Jake, a librarian in the D.C. area and beer aficionado (he’s the beerbrarian), writes on how the neutrality of federated search solutions is often overlooked and that it is most disconcerting that librarians and users of federated search solutions are not even aware of the bias in federated search results. This bias is the result of the ulterior motives of some federated search / discovery services vendors whose primary business is selling content.

Jake writes:

I am credentialed at an institution that uses EHIS. I searched for dozens of terms, and the results weren’t pleasant for EHIS. It’s a crude test, but EHIS failed it.

EHIS consistently promoted EBSCO resources, favoring Academic Search Premier, an interdisciplinary EBSCO database, over product from other vendors that are more specialized.

This subject is one that I have addressed in several blog posts before including this post last December, If Google might be Doing it …, but I welcome reinforcement of this concern. In the last 6-12 months following the initial craze with Discovery Services I have seen significant more questioning in the library community of Discovery Services such as ProQuest’s Summon and EBSCO’s EDS.

Here at Deep Web Technologies we have put lots of emphasis on our relevance ranking algorithms, assigning a rank to each result returned (we bring back hundreds to several thousand results for some of the broader queries) based on how closely the title, author and snippets match the user’s query and not what the source that returned the result is.

On Sunday, June 26th at the ALA Summer National Conference in New Orleans I’ll be speaking on a panel on The Age of Discovery: Understanding Discovery Services, Federated Search, and Web scale. You can be assured that this is one topic that I will be discussing in my presentation.

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