Thoughts on publishers and where the challenge comes…

A key theme for me that seems to be emerging is the relationship of resources discovery product to the publishers’ content (eg the full-text articles). Solutions to this ‘problem’ – of how to search across publishers’ native databases and harvest content back from them seem to take different forms:  a company like ExLibris will for example still depend on their federated product product (Metalib – either hidden or overt) to search across publishers’ and aggregators’ databases using pre-written connectors, whilst companies like Serial Solutions will by-pass this stage and rely on Open-URL access to publisher’s metadata with a product like Summon, in the same way 360 Link can pick up an article reference from within a third-party A&I database . 

It is interesting that Summon is built using an open-source product  architecture – and ditching the need for a federated search back-end is quite a radical step forward into the cloud.  I’m wondering if this is related to their different approach to authentication: both Summon and Metalib seem to be ‘authentication agnostic’ and could work with a variety of authentication systems: but ExLibris seems to prefer the ‘up-front’ password challenge as opposed to Serials Solutions who give you it the other way round: metadata first and only authenticate later.

Is it harder to integrate authentication, as opposed to searching for content, into an institutional login this way round? I don’t yet know as I think it depends what choices we make on identity management. Personally I’m drawn to the ‘up-front’ approach – even though the simplicity of what Serials Solutions are doing is very attractive, I prefer my password challenges at the beginning – rather than at the end of the process. What about others?