Thursday, 26 April 2012

"Directory of Open Access Books" (DOAB) review

From the press release for the launch of DOAB, the "Directory of Open Access Books" or "DOAB" is:
a discovery service for peer reviewed books published under an Open Access license. DOAB provides a searchable index to the information about these books, with links to the full texts of the publications at the publisher’s website or repository. 


The site claims to contain "854 academic peer-reviewed books" as of April 26, 2012 but my check found only 841 (by counting the number of titles under each letter in the alphabetical browse by title list).  Perhaps I missed a number or two when adding?  Perhaps there are titles not listed in that browse by list?  Not sure.  Regardless, although this is a relatively small number for a useful collection of ebooks, the Open Access (OA) book 'industry' (if you can call it that) is still new and the resource was only launched two weeks ago so the low number is understandable.

Looking through the browse by publisher list, there are some recognizable publishers (e.g. Taylor & Francis) plus several university presses (e.g. University of Michigan Press).  And there's already a pretty wide subject coverage (pure and applied sciences, arts and humanities, social sciences, etc.).


As is common with new resources now, DOAB has a very simple navigation and interface.  The pages are very clean, being mostly white with really no clutter.  There's a Google-like single keyword-search box on the front page (which seems to search all fields except "pages").  This search does not auto-wildcard meaning that it will not find the text string entered as a part of the meta-data.  For example, it did not find a book with "Donation" in the title when searching "donati".  It also includes an advanced search which allow the combination of search boxes with a Boolean connector searching specific fields, plus date range specification.

Some search related odds and ends:

  • Not all entries have subject headings which is odd.  The database does include cover images for the books, which is nice (and probably almost mandatory for today's users).
  • Search results display include faceted search functionality on the right.
  • Subjects (at least in the browse by subject list) are quite limited and rather high level.  This ok with only 800-900 titles but it will be increasingly painful as the directory grows.
  • No author browse function.
  • Not a target in the SFX Link Resolver yet.  (This is understandable.)


This is a good showing for such a new resource.  And it's certainly good for the OA book movement which needs more promotion and supporting resources.  This is made by the makers of the "Directory of Open Access Journals" (or DOAJ) which has done well so far.  Many libraries appreciate the DOAJ data and add the "collection" to their list of accessible ejournals.  Books are a different kettle of fish than journals but it's probably safe to assume a possible similar trajectory for DOAB.  IMHO, I would add this to a small-medium sized library's "collection" of eresources.

No comments: