Every successful researcher’s library journey takes them through the same four stages: Access, Search, Choose and Use. As consumers, researchers take comparable journeys when using Amazon, Spotify or Google, and their encounters with these websites’ personalized dashboards, sharing options and recommendation capabilities have set the bar for their user interface expectations. Therefore, instead of starting from scratch when creating next-generation discovery tools, EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) integrated the popular features of these commercial websites with the capabilities needed by research library users when building the newest version of EBSCO Discovery Service™ (EDS).

The first leg of the research journey, Access, starts with gaining entry to EDS — on computer, tablet or phone — by using a privacy-protected way to authenticate and personalize the user. EDS does this via single sign-on through SAML-compliant identity solutions like Okta, Ping and Microsoft ADFS.  Should the researcher, while using EDS, find content that’s hosted on other platforms, they can access it by using the authentication and personalization provided by EBSCO’s partner, OpenAthens. Not only does OpenAthens facilitate this connection, but it also gives library administrators granular control and usage statistics.

Thanks to EBSCO LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) 1.3 certification and compliance, researchers who start their journey in Google Scholar can use Google CASA and Universal CASA to connect with EDS and EBSCOhost® and get full text results. If a researcher is using a Learning Management System (LMS), they can connect directly to their assigned content in EBSCOhost or EDS because they have already been authenticated in their LMS.

EBSCO is interested in more than just access, however. EBSCO is also focused on accessibility, and has been named a top e-book platform provider by the ASPIREverified Accessibility Audit, scoring a perfect 100 percent. EBSCO maintains the highest accessibility standards, and accessibility improvements are continuing in 2021 as the new EDS interface will be WCAG 2.1 AA compliant. As part of an ongoing collaboration with The Carroll Center for the Blind, in Newton, Massachusetts, EBSCO conducts accessibility tests during the entire software production process, and thus steers clear of the clumsiness that can come with any retrofitting done after-the-fact.

As for the second leg of the research journey, Search, EDS prompts its users to try better search terms and steers them toward results they may have overlooked otherwise. This is because in addition to being a discovery tool, EDS is a learning environment that improves users’ information literacy skills. As they get better at searching, users begin to realize the extent of EDS’ reach, and recognize that they can explore databases like CINAHL®, MEDLINE®, BIOSIS™, APA PsycInfo®, and so on. As a result, inexperienced researchers are not simply getting access to books and articles with EDS, but are also developing an appreciation of the library’s power and importance.

At the heart of this learning environment is the EDS Knowledge Graph. Created with the support of a team of subject matter experts drawing on a multitude of subject indexes, the Knowledge Graph can turn weak or unsophisticated queries into excellent searches. Therefore, users need not be experts to get expert-level results. The Knowledge Graph does this by mapping new datasets that incorporate natural language, extensive subject vocabularies, and a vast array of synonyms and concepts in more than 280 languages and dialects. This improves both search and relevance rankings for EBSCOhost and EDS Health, while the multi-lingual capability lets people from all over the planet enter search terms in their own languages.

Through a visualization tool called the Concept Map, the Knowledge Graph shows the user connections between subjects. For example, if the user searches for “hypertension,” the Concept Map provides a representative image at the center of the screen with multiple spokes extending from it. Each of these spokes connects to a concept related to hypertension, such as “circulatory failure,” “systolic pressure,” or “cardiopathy.” These connected concepts in turn can suggest additional subjects for exploration and the user can relaunch their search with an improved query.

Created with the support of a team of subject matter experts drawing on a multitude of subject indexes, the Knowledge Graph can turn weak or unsophisticated queries into excellent searches. Therefore, users need not be experts to get expert-level results.

The Concept Map also helps the user learn by zeroing in on their intent. If the user searches for “cancer,” for example, the Concept Map presents a variety of options in a pulldown menu, to determine what the user meant — the malignant growth or tumor, the impairment of health, or cancer as an abnormal mass of tissue that forms when cells grow and divide. Allowing the researcher to use their own words is known as “equitable search” — meaning that there is no “correct” word needed for a query. The user does not need to be trained in “library speak” — rather, the user can decide what word to use for their search based on their level of research proficiency, background, or perspective.

When the user reaches the Choose stage of their researcher journey and could use some guidance when it comes to sifting through the items that have emerged from their search, EDS helps by creating a results list that shows which articles are peer-reviewed. The new UI also has an improved filter, similar to those on commercial websites. And just like popular social platforms, items can be saved for later. If the user wants to go beyond what’s in the results list, they can click on the Concept Map button to find out how their search topic is connected to still other subjects.

Now, at the Use stage of the research journey, when it is time to put the chosen items to work, EDS enables researchers to work straight from the results list, with the options to cite, add items to a project, share references, and download, without needing to click open the articles.

Just as in the results list, the new PDF viewer lets the user cite, share, and add to a project. Within the viewer they can also see how many copies the library has available, as well as whether the title is currently in use.

In addition to the new PDF viewer, there’s also a new e-book viewer, which enables the user to either download the whole e-book or select individual chapters from the table of contents. The user can also search for terms directly in the viewer.

The new UI boasts a “My Dashboard” feature, where the user can keep folders, maintain projects they are working on, keep track of their searches, and store “liked” items.

The new EDS user interface (UI) is being rolled out to customers based on readiness, which depends on their configuration and current profiles. Current customers are given access to both the old and new versions so as to familiarize themselves with the new innovations and to provide EBSCO with feedback. Since existing EDS profile configurations are used to populate the new UI, there is no migration happening — just an easy switch from one interface to the other. Current clients can make the jump to the new interface when they feel comfortable, while new customers will simply start with the new interface in place.

EBSCO is committed to pushing the boundaries of search and helping users blaze new trails on their library journeys. With the evolved EDS UI, EBSCO is excited to collaborate with corporate libraries to help researchers execute even more rewarding discovery experiences.