The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) is seeking comments on the draft recommended practice Open Discovery Initiative: Promoting Transparency in Discovery. Launched in 2012, the NISO Open Discovery Initiative (ODI) aims to facilitate increased transparency in the content coverage of index-based discovery services and to recommend consistent methods of content exchange. This draft recommended practice provides specific guidelines for content providers on metadata elements, linking, and technical formats, and for discovery service providers on content listings, linking, file formats, methods of transfer, and usage statistics. The document also provides background information on the evolution of discovery and delivery technology and a standard set of terminology and definitions for this technology area.

“An increasing number of libraries, especially those that serve academic or research institutions, have invested in index-based discovery services as a strategic interface to all their resources,” states Marshall Breeding, an independent library consultant and Co-chair of the ODI Working Group. “These libraries expect their uniquely licensed and purchased electronic content to be made available within their discovery service of choice. But it is often not clear which resources are available, which are indexed in full text, by citations only, or both, and whether the metadata derives from aggregated databases or directly through the full text. Libraries deserve a clear explanation of the degree of availability of their content in the available discovery services and they need usage statistics for access from the discovery tool.”

“The domain of index-based discovery services involves a complex ecosystem of interrelating issues and interests among content providers, libraries, and discovery service creators,” explains Jenny Walker, an independent consultant and Co-chair of the ODI Working Group. “The increasing use of indexed search as a primary means for library patrons to discover and access licensed content brings with it new requirements for industry practices that will ensure consistent provision of metadata, unbiased linking to source material, and neutrality of algorithms for generating result sets, relevance rankings, and link order. Specific guidelines around these issues are given in the ODI Recommended Practice.”

“In addition to the recommendations in the current draft, the ODI Working Group has identified a number of actions for future work,” states Nettie Lagace, NISO Associate Director for Programs. “NISO plans to support this follow-up effort to address such issues as collaborative discussion mechanisms, application programming interfaces, handling of restricted content, on-demand lookup, and interaction with COUNTER about usage statistics related to discovery services.”

The draft recommended practice is open for public comment through November 18, 2013. To download the draft or submit online comments, visit the Open Discovery Initiative webpage at:



Cynthia Hodgson

Technical Editor / Consultant

National Information Standards Organization

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