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A Discovery of Trees: A Comparison and Evaluation of Five Web-Scale Discovery Tool Services




Coates, Midge
Caudle, Dana
Schmitz, Cecilia
Coates, Mildred


Web scale discovery tool services allow users to search all of a library’s physical items, licensed electronic content, and local digital collections via a single search box and receive relevance ranked results. Prior studies of discovery tool services have focused on usability or general relevancy and did not examine discipline-specific searching. This study compared the effectiveness of five Web scale discovery tool services in retrieving known lists of books on oak trees and journal articles on live oak trees and the herbicide tebuthiuron. The researchers performed basic searches which a student might be expected to make and compared the results obtained with the predetermined lists of sources. The researchers also ran the same searches in Google Books and Google Scholar. The five commercial Web scale discovery tool services in this study are EBSCO Discovery Service, Encore, Primo Central from Ex Libris, Summon from Serials Solutions, and OCLC’s WorldCat Local. Our research indicates that none of the tools were better than any of the others at retrieving list items via keyword searches despite the fact that known item searches showed the items to be present.