As the size and scope of the 'digital library' continues to increase, maintaining researcher efficiency is proving more difficult. Mason's library subscribes to 80,000+ electronic journals and many more commercial database services so we see the benefits and the challenges of this information-rich environment on a daily basis.
It is not an easy task to determine the "best" resource for a given subject--you might prefer a database that provides wide subject coverage but find at best it only provides abstracts to relevant material. Meanwhile, the library may well offer access to the same content in full-text form but only when you use a different database. Beyond trying to keep abreast of who offers what, how can you insure that a search in one resource doesn't overlook useful content buried deep within the 'invisible web' of yet another resource?

Relying on an open web standard (OpenURL), Mason Link+ offers a way to help integrate digital content by linking the results you obtain in one system to content made available in a different database altogether. A short example from a user's perspective illustrates the concept:

1. A user conducts a search in Biotechnology and Bioengineering Abstracts (BBA) for "molecular cloning" ...finding a useful citation from the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Next to the citation is a small Mason Link+ icon. While BBA offers abstracts of articles, clicking the Mason Link+ icon generates a new page with related links.

2. The Mason Link+ screen offers access to the full text of the article in question--drawn from the library's subscription to the electronic version of The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Several other relevant links are also provided: a Google ™ search for the author, a search of the WRLC catalog for the journal, and more. When the original citation is a book, Mason Link+ offers a link to book reviews on Amazon™.

3. Prior to the arrival of Mason Link+, only those researchers who performed their original search in the JBC Online system would have located the full-text content and they would have missed the many additional sources that the BBA index covers.

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Where a database supports OpenURL linking, our Mason Link+ system will search the internet and present you with clickable links that expand your retrieval options:

  • often the complete text of an article, or
  • links to book reviews,
  • information about the author
  • bibliographic information about the journal
  • an ILL request form if we are unable to provide the online text
  • links to public internet sources (e.g., a Google search on the author/title),
  • and more.

If you have questions about Mason Link+ or OpenURL linking in general, please contact Wally Grotophorst, Digital Programs & Systems Division, University Libraries.