EBSCO Information Services launched a new search service designed as a starting point for research, emphasizing convenient access to open access materials. EBSCO Essentials is available to anyone regardless of affiliation. It provides a search tool for the general public that guides them to the full text of authoritative resources published as open access. The service also serves as a channel toward library-provided resources. Search results also list citations for resources restricted to subscribers. To gain access to these restricted resources, visitors can search for and connect through their library, using their library-assigned sign-in credentials.
According to Michael Laddin, Senior Vice President of Product Management for EBSCO Information Services, “We are focused on creating greater experiences both for users who know they are looking for their library's resources, but don't know where to start or how to access, as well as those who were not specifically looking for libraries but who would benefit from knowing their libraries can provide access to important resources.”
Technology and Content
The EBSCO Essentials interface is based on Stacks, the web publishing platform which it the company also offered as a content management system for libraries. Its content is populated by a subset of EBSCOhost, the subject index databases with full text offered to libraries and not EBSCO Discovery Service, which also indexes content from non-EBSCO sources.
Although offered though a simplified interface, EBSCO Essentials operates in a way similar to guest access to EBSCOhost, returning basic citations for search results, though not the full text of resources, unless available as open access.
Search results prioritize open access materials, which always appear first and can be viewed through the “Access now for free” button.
A “cite” button presents the metadata for the item according to any of the nine citation formats selected. The text of the citation can be copied and pasted into a document or citation manager.
Visitors can create a free EBSCO Essentials account to save results. This account is not related to any specific library account but is used only with EBSCO Essentials for preferences and for saving results into lists. Users can simply save items into the default list, or they can create multiple named lists.
Connects users to local libraries
EBSCO Essentials will also include items not available as open access in search results. These items present a button “Find a library to access” which presents a list of libraries that subscribe to the associated EBSCOhost database. Once selected, the interface redirects to the login page for that library. If the library subscribes to the EBSCOhost product in which the item resides, the user can access the full text of the selected item.
If a user then logs in to their institutional authentication and if the library subscribes to the corresponding EBSCOhost database, the user is directed to the full interface and can view the full text for non-open access materials.
EBSCO Essentials includes advertisements in search response listings, both at the top of page and interspersed among results. The advertisements are not selected according to the search query and are labelled as sponsored. The ads offset the costs of providing this service offered free to the public and without cost to libraries.
In addition to direct revenues associated with advertising, EBSCO Information Services also gains indirect benefit through increased use of EBSCOhost content from researchers. Researchers not affiliated with an educational institution or library are exposed to the quality indexing associated with EBSCOhost products as an effective tool for finding open access scholarly publications. EBSCO also gains some value from the increased use of EBSCOhost products when researchers connect through to library subscriptions. Libraries gain value from the increased use of their EBSCOhost products when researchers connect through to library subscriptions.
Laddin adds, “The idea is to leverage content from EBSCO to provide greater exposure and traffic for libraries. Because libraries have invested in EBSCOhost content, they stand to gain more usage and new users through this tool. Exposure goes beyond EBSCOhost content, EBSCO Essentials is a gateway to the library's overall resources since EBSCO Essentials drive users to their libraries and all their resources libraries make available online.
EBSCO Essentials is not a competitor to EBSCO Discovery Service. It is not a product to which libraries subscribe but is a free service on the Internet designed to guide researchers to trusted scholarly and educational content and to tap into the growing body of articles available as open access. The product is naturally centered on material indexed in EBSCOhost products.
EBSCO Essentials is not customized by institution but is meant as a general entry point for anyone regardless of library affiliation. The EBSCO Essentials search box can be embedded in any web page through the code snippet provided for any organization that finds this search useful to help their users find high quality search results and an easy way to download open access educational and scholarly resources.
EBSCO Essentials was launched in February 2022.