Elsevier Filters Recommendation Engine to Show Elsevier Titles Only

As the Elsevier boycott continues to gain attention, a good example of what the company stands for: the Ex Libris bX service is a neat little recommendation tool that displays suggested citations, working from a known item and based on search traffic. It provides researchers with suggestions based on their area of interest, and the items displayed are usually additional relevant articles (similar to Amazon's "people who bought this also bought..." feature). The Elsevier ScienceDirect site embeds this service in their own custom application, but librarians noticed the results it was displaying were only for Elsevier titles. Here is the Ex Libris explanation:

bX itself is entirely publisher and platform neutral and sends and displays all relevant articles regardless of journal, publisher or platform. But those who build their own applications – like Elsevier did - can manipulate the data by filtering before displaying it. For the app on Science Direct Elsevier indeed filters the bX articles by those available from Science Direct.

Is it any wonder this company gets a bad rap?


You're using the app on the ScienceDirect website so you would expect the user to have paid for access to ScienceDirect journals. It's no good having links to other publishers etc that you don't have access to outside of ScienceDirect.

John, I would like to add some context for this as I don't believe Elsevier was contacted for comment.

1) The bX integration in SciVerse is available for both Scopus and ScienceDirect. On Scopus there are links to all publishers because indeed Scopus covers all publishers. On ScienceDirect it links to other articles from ScienceDirect, just like the other "related articles" functionality on ScienceDirect. We felt this was logical to display ScienceDirect article recommendations within ScienceDirect - it is not a cynical attempt to close out recommendations of content from other publishers, rather a choice to keep a consistent user experience in the product.

2) The bX integration is the product of a collaboration between Elsevier and Ex Libris to bring the value of bX into the SciVerse platform for mutual customers of bX and SciVerse. Ex Libris provided an API for bX, Elsevier built the SciVerse Application integration. As the bX service provides article metadata but no links, we use Elsevier APIs to retrieve the actual article links. In short we put some effort into building this with both our own services and with bX and offered it on opt in basis at no charge to mutual customers. I am proud of this effort and it's been well received by our customers as well, of which more than 200 have opted to have it turned on. If our customers have a problem with this aspect of it I encourage them to get in touch to discuss - SciVerse Applications gives us a lot of flexibility in meeting customers' needs.

3) The bX integration was done using SciVerse Applications, a service which allows developers, customers, anyone to create applications that integrate into ScienceDirect, Scopus and SciVerse Hub. These applications range from specialized tools that connect papers to raw data in repositories and visualize gene sequence data or protein structures to workflow tools that send articles to an e-reader or let you download HTML table data as CSV files. There are also catalog viewer applications which allow institutions to integrate results from their library catalog directly into the SciVerse interface. The point is to open up the platform and let our customers and researchers customize it as they see fit, and we explicitly encourage people to integrate data from anywhere on the web with these tools.

I would be happy to discuss further with you both the bX integration and SciVerse Applications, please get in touch if you're interested.

Judson Dunham
Sr. Product Manager
SciVerse Applications

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