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The Lure of Linking : Link resolvers are essential to getting optimal usage of electronic content

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 7/22/09 (11:31pm)
Pub Date: 
04/01/2004

Link Resolver 101

A student searching through PubMed finds a citation to an article she wants to read. But how to locate a copy? Researchers today are faced with questions that range from whether the journal is available online to whether their library has a subscription (either print or online), from wondering if the journal may be in an aggregated collection to whether (and how) a copy can be obtained through interlibrary loan.

It is difficult to answer these questions through conventional web links. After all, how would PubMed know to which other services the student has access? It all depends on the student's affiliation.

Link resolver software brings together information about the cited resource, the user, and the library's many subscriptions, policies, and services. For the software to work, the content providers must be willing to participate as Sources (databases or sites that can provide a link from a reference). To make linking more reliable, it helps if providers colloborate as Targets (the end results, usually a full-text article or a search for print holdings in the library's catalog). Also, the library needs to load accurate data about its holding into the link resolver's Knowledgebase.

The link resolver becomes activated when the user clicks on a link or button ("Search for full text") embedded in the user interface of PubMed (or other services). Using the OpenURL Framework, information, such as the metadata for that citation, is bundled together from the Source and sent to the resolver software that will process the data, comparing it to the Knoweldgebase.

As a result, the student is then presented with a range of options for locating the article. If the library has an online subscription, the Target may link to the article itself or to the journal. Other options include the library's print holding for that title, or interlibrary loan or document delivery options.