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Search, harvest, and archive the Web.

With the large number of medical information resources on the Internet, you're officially forgiven if you think there is no room for another.

So let me introduce SearchMedica, a new search engine designed to provide links to high-quality medical Web sites producing ranked results that are organized into key categories. The service is targeted at general practitioners (GPs) in the U.K., but physicians and the general public worldwide are likely to be interested in this site.

SearchMedica was created by CMPMedica, which is part of United Business Media (best known for the news distribution network PR Newswire). Its CMPMedica division supplies healthcare and educational products such as journals and databases to doctors and patients, including a weekly newspaper called Pulse for British physicians. SearchMedica was produced in conjunction with Pulse, using extensive input from participating GPs in the design of the interface and the selection of its content.

A basic search on SearchMedica can be restricted to three broad options: medical sites chosen by GPs only, National Health Service (NHS) sites only, or the entire Web. Searches can also be limited to one of 11 different categories: clinical general, evidence, patient information, patient support, guidelines, NHS/regulatory issues, professional development, legal issues, symptoms, diseases, and medicines. Even if a search is not restricted to one of these groups, results are displayed by category in a separate results list on the lower left-hand side of the screen.

A sample search (limited to GP selected sites) for "anemia" returned 454,387 hits (as well as for the British spelling "anaemia"). Although it may be difficult to believe that each page has been individually vetted by a GP, the basic sources appear to be reputable and are more focused than the 3 million-plus hits retrieved in a search of the entire Web. Certainly, the top 10 results are not swamped with Wikipedia references. Restricting the search to NHS-only sites reduced the retrieval to just more than 19,000, with the top three hits derived from the official NHS resources: the National Electronic Library for Health (NeLH), the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), and the NHS Direct online encyclopedia.

The service provides tips for broadening or narrowing a search. For example, clicking on the broaden option for the search on anemia offered the search term "blood disease," and clicking on the narrow option offered "myelodysplasia," "hemoglobinopathy," "normocytic anemia," and "aplastic anemia." Related concepts are also suggested. In this example, "side effect" and "ferritin" were among the suggestions to narrow the search. Alternatives are also suggested for misspelled terms. Finally, the results list provides a link to the Web page of the individual hit as well as a link to the home page for the site generating that hit.

The service is free and unrestricted; there are no ads, sponsored sites, or pop-ups--an advantage that is welcomed over using a standard Web search engine. Look for updates in this column when the service moves out of the beta stage.

DRIVER Unites National Repositories

Open access (OA) and public national repositories for research information are topics that have been well-covered in IT. Now, an international project has been launched to interlink such repositories in a Pan-European, EU-funded, public infrastructure for research information. The Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research (DRIVER) will provide OA reports, articles, and raw data for researchers across Europe.

The DRIVER project will use the Dutch DARE program as a model. DARE (Digital Academic REpositories) is a joint initiative of Dutch universities to make all of their research results digitally accessible. DARE is produced by SURF, which is the Dutch higher education partnership for networking and information and communications technologies; SURF will be the Dutch project partner for DRIVER. On Sept. 14, 2006, Kees Blom, rector of the Radboud University Nijmegen, launched the Dutch National Site for Doctoral Theses "Promise of Science" on the DARE Web site. The collection contains 10,000 doctoral theses, and it continues to grow at a rate of 2,500 per year.

The DRIVER project, which began in June 2006, is scheduled to receive funding by the European Commission for 18 months under the EU's Sixth Framework program. The project has five objectives. Initially, a network of 51 repositories from five countries (the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, and the U.K.) will be built as a test bed. The technology and metadata required to achieve one repository out of these physically distributed resources will be assessed and implemented. Then, a handful of user services will be tested and demonstrated. Appropriate standards will be identified, and the required steps will be determined to expand the service across Europe.

DRIVER is to be built on the GEANT2 network that will connect 34 European countries through 30 national research and education networks (NRENs) using multiple 10-Gbps wavelengths. The project administrator is Mike Hatzopolous, a professor from the University of Athens department of informatics and telecommunications; the technical and scientific coordinator is Norbert Lossau from Bielefeld University.

OpenDOAR Tracks Repository Growth

The number of repositories worldwide is growing rapidly. OpenDOAR (the Directory of Open Access Repositories) now lists, describes, and categorizes 779 repositories that have been visited, tested, and assessed by OpenDOAR project staff.

One thousand candidates were checked to produce a quality-assured list that excluded sites described as "broken" or "empty." The listings can be sorted by subject area, language, country, content type, and results searched in combination with keywords. Results can be displayed in different formats, including a tabular form that can be changed and specified for an individual's interests. Entries highlight repository features such as the size of holdings, presence of e-alerts, RSS feeds, and language. OpenDOAR which is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), the Open Society Institute (OSI), the Consortium of Research Libraries (CURL), and SPARCEurope--is a sister project of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).

National Libraries Cooperate on Web Harvesting

Two national libraries and an IT company have joined forces to develop a Web-harvesting tool designed to collect material for digital heritage collections. The National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa; The British Library (BL); and Sytec, a subsidiary of TelstraClear, were appointed by the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC) to find an easy-to-use Web-harvesting method that did not require the operators to have in-depth technical knowledge.

The Internet Archive (IA) and 11 national libraries created the IIPC in 2003 with the mission "to acquire, preserve and make accessible knowledge and information from the Internet for future generations everywhere, promoting global exchange and international relations." It is chartered at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. The two national libraries shared the $400,000 cost of creating the Web curator.

The Web-curator tool uses a crawler to locate and gather snapshots of relevant sites for heritage digital archives. It has a work-flow solution to manage permissions, selection, descriptions, scoping, harvesting, and quality review. The National Library of New Zealand and the BL will use the tool initially for their own digital preservation programs, but eventually they will share the system with similar organizations by providing an open source release before 2007.

In August, the National Library of New Zealand announced that it had partnered with Endeavor Information Systems to create a digital archive for New Zealand's digital heritage collections. That heritage, which will be known as the National Digital Heritage Archive (NDHA), will grow dramatically now that new legal deposit legislation has been passed which expanded the collection remit of the library from print to print and electronic documents from Aug. 12, 2006. The library has several pre-existing digital collections, including images from the Alexander Turnbull collection, the content of Te Ao Hou (a magazine published by the Maori Affairs Department), and 750,000 pages of 19th-century newspapers.

Just as national libraries are expanding their digital collections, Google has also announced another partner in its own book digitization program. The Universidad Complutense de Madrid has become the first Spanish-language library to join the Google Books Library Project by letting Google scan hundreds of thousands of its public domain works. The Spanish university is the second European university to join the project--after the Bodleian Library at Oxford University--and the seventh major university library overall.

"Out[-]of[-]copyright books previously only available to people with access to Madrid's Complutense University Library, or the money to travel, will now be accessible to everyone with an Internet connection, wherever they live," said Carlos Berzosa, chancellor of the Universidad Complutense. "We are quite literally opening our library to the world. The opportunities for education are phenomenal and we are delighted to be working with Google on this project."

Jim Ashling runs Ashling Consulting, an independent consultancy for the information industry. His e-mail address is Send your comments about this column to

DAREnet                                http://www.darenet.n1/en/page/
Promise of Science           
Directory of Open Access Journals
The National Library of New Zealand
The British Library          
International Internet
Preservation Consortium      
Google Book Search           
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
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Title Annotation:International REPORT
Author:Ashling, Jim
Publication:Information Today
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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