Mita Williams introduces the concept of a “Discovery Layer” in the New Jack Librarian blog and provides a reference to the work of the Discovery Tools Sub-Group of Scholars Portal, a partnership of Ontario academic libraries providing search-related products and services. Discovery layers seek to extend the functionality of federated search to improve user search experience, especially the relevance of results of the majority of queries, which are under-specified (just two or three words.)

Williams notes a number of ways in which relevance ranking can be improved:

  • by taking into account the user’s previous searching behaviour
  • by weighing results by the number of times an item has been bookmarked, printed, or saved
  • by using citation information to determine ‘likeness’ (e.g. based on a percentage of shared citations in item’s bibliography)
  • by using user-created lists articles to generate similar items of possible interest
  • by knowing what courses a users is currently taking/teaching and emphasizing relevant resources accordingly

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