OpenURL + open data = interesting possibilities

EDINA have released a fascinating dataset derived from their OpenURL Router service. The data has been made available under an ODC-PDDL licence with BY-SA community norms which allows it to be reused by anyone with an interest in the data.

The OpenURL Router Data is derived from the logs of the OpenURL Router, a service for institutions who have an OpenURL resolver – a vital piece of library software. The OpenURL Router works in the background to direct student or researcher requests for academic papers to the appropriate institutional OpenURL resolver. This enables institutions to register their resolver once only, at, and service providers may then use as the “base URL” for OpenURL links for UK HE and FE customers. EDINA, which operates the Router, have worked with institutions that use the Router to enable them to release this data under an open licence that makes it very easy for others to get the data and analyse it or use it to build new and innovative services.

This dataset is potentially extremely useful. The most obvious use cases are the creation of recommender services for library resources (people who searched for this paper also searched for that etc.) and analysis of search habits. Tony Hirst has posted a very interesting initial exploration of the data that shows that a lot of traffic to the Openurl router is coming from Mendeley. EDINA have several ideas on ways this data could be used to provide or enhance services, and will develop an initial prototype to demonstrate the potential in the coming months.

Sheila Fraser, the project manager, has already made good links with others who are interested in working with the data:

  • The NISO IOTA project in the US is seeking to use the data to examine how institutions use the OpenURL standard;
  • Sheila is talking to Johan Bollen who used OpenURL data in fascinating ways in the Mesur project;
  • The RISE project is creating a recommender service based on ezproxy data and may enhance this with the OpenURL dataset.

This dataset will be included in hackfests organised by the Discovery programme alongside other open datasets to enable clever people to explore the data in and present it in innovative ways.

But if you are one of those clever people, there is no need to wait for the hackfest, the data is out there under a permissive licence just waiting to be exploited! See the OpenURL router website for further information about the data that has been released.