IEEE's new way to Xplore

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The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has decided to apply a new indexing system to a database of about 2.1 million IEEE records that make up 74% of its Xplore Digital Database. The association collaborated with data and content management company Access Innovations to develop a search function, which is intended to make locating abstracts, articles and other documents easier [to find] when it goes live this year. Adam Philippidis, IEEE manager of indexing and database production, explained the phases of an evolution that began in 2006.

Digital Directions: What factors drove the decision to update the system?

Adam Philippidis: We had used other people's indexing and we still do; but we also wanted to add a layer of indexing that is all our own so we can branch out and do projects. We wanted to be able to be able to characterize our content in our own way. Our thesaurus is based on technology, and there is a fair-sized component based on the organization that we represent. We're not just looking at a document and saying what it is about, but we're taking into account if the document is valuable, for example, to the aerospace society. In the future if we want to segment our materials or combine them in new ways, this allows us to do that.

We worked with Access Innovations to update our thesaurus in stage one. Once the thesaurus and taxonomy were set up, stage two was to reindex all the IEEE content. The only way to do that effectively was to use automatic indexing. We haven't set it up for the end-user to get to it yet. We're doing tweaking. And not only are we updating 2 million records, we're still adding to the database to the tune of several thousand every week. It's a volume problem.

Digital Directions: What will be the key differences for users of the database?

Philippidis: It will make the documents easier for people to locate as they think in terms of IEEE or any of the other systems. Each different vocabulary system that is used makes the material more searchable, because different people think about things in different ways, and different vocabulary categorizes things in different ways. The IEEE vocabulary is more geared toward an engineering and IEEE society point of view. So it's going to enhance the experience for users who are trying to locate IEEE-published material.

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