Options and Defaults for Showing Only Licensed Content in Ejournal Platforms

Depending on the interface and system you’re talking about and depending on the user type you’re talking about (the casual searcher who needs just one or two sources quickly or the dogged searcher who needs an expansive search set), it’s an interesting question about how to handle default search options that control whether results show all possible results or just those your library has immediate access to (via subscriptions and purchases). In time that I’ve been a librarian (since 1999), academic libraries typically offer their users:

  • a catalog that only shows the library’s collections (or maybe a union collection where materials can easily be requested and quickly delivered)
  • A&I databases that rely on link resolvers to get to full text where possible and ILL services where access is not available
  • aggregator databases that pull together full text content from lots of different publishers and may also include records where only abstracts are available
  • ejournal collections from various publishers where all or part of the collection has been subscribed to or purchased

Added to that mix are discovery services that try to bring together records from the catalog and records for articles that the library has full text access to. Commonly, those discovery services will also let the user change the search mode to find article records for which the library has no full-text access. In most cases, libraries can go into administrative options for their discovery services and aggregator databases and set default search settings that control whether search results show all content or just the content the user has full-text access to. Typically, the search interfaces give the user a way to override the defaults at the search box (sometimes at the basic search box, more often only at the advanced search box) or on the search results pages.

The search systems used by ejournal collections, though, seem to offer libraries and their users far less control over default search setting or the ability to refine search to only available content. In this post, I want to review some of the ejournal platforms (and some ebook platforms) we have at Baruch College and spotlight the ones that give librarians who administer these systems and searchers who use them a measure of control over what should appear in the search results.

Cambridge Core

Admin options: Subscribing libraries have no way in the admin options or by submission of a support request to change the default search to show only results for available content.

User options: Checkbox main search page to limit to “Only content I have access to.” Same checkbox also shown at top of facets on search results pages.

Cambridge Core search screen showing checkbox

Cambridge Core search screen showing checkbox

Emerald Insight

Admin options: No way to change default search behavior.

User options: Only the advanced search page and the search results pages offer a way to “Include” “only content I have access to.”

Emerald Insight advanced search screen showing "Include" option

Emerald Insight advanced search screen showing “Include” option

JSTOR

Admin options: I don’t recall how we set this up (maybe via a support ticket) but we were able to set defaults to only show available content.

User options: Advanced search page and search results pages let you change the “Access type” from the default “Read and download” option to “All content.”

JSTOR "access type" options on the advanced search page

JSTOR “access type” options on the advanced search page

Oxford Handbooks Online

Admin options: There isn’t a way in the admin options or by means of a support request to change the default, which shows all content.

User options: The search results page is the only way to change from the default of showing all content to just the “unlocked” content.

Oxford Handbooks Online search results page with availability options

Oxford Handbooks Online search results page with availability options

Oxford Journals

Admin options: There isn’t a way in the admin options or by means of a support request to change the default, which shows all content.

User options: No way to just see content the library has.

Oxford Reference

Admin options: Same interface as Oxford Handbooks Online (but different URL). By default, search results limited “By Availability” to “Unlocked” and “Free” content. I don’t know how this get set up (it’s not an admin option).

User options: The search results page is the only way to change from the default of showing all content to just the “unlocked” content.

Oxford Reference checkboxes to "Narrow Your Choices" "By Availability"

Oxford Reference checkboxes to “Narrow Your Choices” “By Availability”

Project MUSE

Admin options: By default, we have it set to show “Access” to “Only content I have full access to.” We had to submit a support request to get this set up.

User options: The advanced search screen and the search results page give the user the checkbox to change the default setting and show all content.

Project MUSE search screen showing "Access" option

Project MUSE search screen showing “Access” option

ScienceDirect

Admin options: There isn’t a way in the admin options or by means of a support request to change the default, which shows all content.

User options: The advanced search screen offers a checkbox to “Refine your search” to “Subscribed publications.”

ScienceDirect advanced search screen showing limiter for "subscribed publications"

ScienceDirect advanced search screen showing limiter for “subscribed publications”

SpringerLink

Admin options: There isn’t a way in the admin options or by means of a support request to change the default, which shows all content.

User options: Advanced search screen and search results page offer a checkbox where you can turn the choice to “Include Preview-Only content.”

SpringerLink option to deselect checkbox to "Include Preview-Only content"

SpringerLink option to deselect checkbox to “Include Preview-Only content”

Wiley Online Library

Admin options: There isn’t a way in the admin options or by means of a support request to change the default, which shows all content.

User options: None.

What’s Next

In my next post, I’ll summarize what I found from this quick survey of ejournal platforms and talk about the pros and cons of making all content visible.