Looking at the Main Features of IsisCB Explore

The new search site of IsisCB Explore has many features that may not be self-evident when you first use it. Before you try out explore, take a moment to familiarize yourself with what it can do:

  • Save your searches. For logged-in users, the system automatically logs your search history and gives you the ability to bookmark and save them.
  • Add public comments. Once logged in, you can add public comments on any record so that you can identify missing information or suggest outside links.
  • Drill down using facets. The facets are indexed items that you can access directly using the Authorities tab. [See video.]
  • Register your own account. You can register for an account or log in through Facebook or Twitter. [See video.]
  • Use Zotero to collect citations. All bibliographic records can be saved in Zotero, either individually or in search results. [See video.]
    • Note: I recommend using Zotero for collecting citations, until we are able to add that functionality within the application.

You’ll notice that I have added a few explanatory videos at the IsisCB Explore YouTube Channel to help people see what kind of features we have. These will continue to be produced.

Usage Tips

When doing a citation search, be creative and try multiple methods of drilling down.

One can use the IsisCB to do a standard bibliographical search. This is the mode that we expect most users will find valuable on a day-to-day basis. All searches are keyword searches. You can narrow down the results lists by either providing more search terms or by using the facet list to the left.

When limiting by facet, be aware that several different authority sets are in use, so similar facet selections will yield different results sets.

Limiting by facets can create artificially small results sets. This is especially true if the subject terms are not proper names. Subject authorities have changed over time under different bibliographers. When limiting by a term used by one bibliographer, similar citations classified with different terminology will be skipped. Try different facet limits with your searches to ensure you capture similar records tagged with slightly different subjects.

When using IsisCB Explore, consider using it as a Who’s Who in History of Science.

The IsisCB dataset can also provide a window into the history of science community by using the authority tab. By doing an authority search for authors, publishers, universities, or journals, one can explore the network of people and institutions that have produced history of science scholarship over the years. In this capacity, one can study such things as the topic areas of journals, the theses produced by different institutions, and similar questions.

Development schedule

The project is still in beta form, so development is ongoing. Among the features we will be adding in the months ahead:

  • A lot more data. We will be integrating several hundred thousand new records in the next few months. These data include web-based resources from the World History of Science Online and the 1913-1975 Isis Cumulative Bibliographies.
    • Note: The most recent data from 2015 is not yet on Explore. It will take us a few months to make the full conversion. After that, however, you will be getting continuous updates as we enter data.
  • Link resolvers. Library users will be able to get direct access to the full text of items in subscribed library resources.
    • Note: These should be coming shortly, and some people are already able to get their local link resolvers to work.
  • User account functions. We will eventually make it possible for people to adding entries, curating pages, saving marked sets of citations.
  • Indexing. As we study the authority lists, we well be able to merge many of the identical authorities that currently exist in the system.
  • Authority records. We will be providing more information drawn from places like DBPedia that will help users know more about authority records that they are using to do searches.
  • Linked Open Data. We will be adding links to many other external authority records, so that users will be able to find accurate data on records from authoritative sources, such as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and similar projects.
  • More API functionality. We will be adding new ways to access our records algorithmically.

Keep checking back here for more developments.


Also check out the new cover design for the 2015 printed bibliography!