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The power of semantics

In recent years scholarly publishers have increasingly looked to add value to the content they put online. Siân Harris asks providers of semantic enrichment tools and services how publishers can enhance their content


or the past couple of decades, scholarly publishers have been populating their websites and content stores with a wealth of valuable research material. Such efforts have resulted in vast amounts of information online but the quantity of scholarly information is far too great for researchers to simply browse, find, digest and use everything. For this reason there has been an increasing interest amongst publishers in the topic of semantic enrichment, enhancing information with intelligent structure, tagging and vocabularies to improve discoverability of related and relevant resources.

As Phil Hastings, SVP sales & marketing for Linguamatics, explained: ‘Semantic enrichment makes the publisher’s information more discoverable, providing more value to the user. Semantic enrichment allows searching of the data using concepts rather than just keywords, which means more comprehensive results. It automatically identifies domain specific concepts inside the data and then exposes them for use by end users searching for concepts or keywords.’ He illustrated this with an example from life sciences: ‘If a user searched for “cancer”, they would get back results not only for cancer but also for synonyms such as “carcinoma”, “tumour” and “malignancy”, as well as types like “leukaemia”, “Peutz-Jeghers syndrome”, and “breast cancer”.’ Enriching content in this way opens up several potential opportunities, both in enhancing the

20 Research Information AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2014

The quantity of scholarly information is far too great to simply browse, find, digest and use everything

accuracy of existing resources and in building new, derivative resources that are tailored to specific needs or groups of people. Silverchair’s Jake Zarnegar noted that, ‘Publishers use semantics to enhance the core functions of their existing products (such as search, navigation/collections, and related suggestions);

content to assemble programmatically

targeted new content products that are relevant to specific audiences; to integrate granularly with third-party information sources; and to gain better business intelligence about the particular information needs of our audiences to guide sales, marketing, and content development teams.’

Daniel Mayer, VP product and marketing at TEMIS, gave some examples of the ways this approach is being used: ‘Semantic enrichment is helping publishers make their content more compelling, drive audience engagement and content usage by providing metadata-based discoverability features such as search-engine optimisation, improved search, taxonomy/faceted navigation, links to structured information about topics mentioned in content, “related content”, and personalisation.’

Derivative content

Mayer said semantic enrichment can also help publishers ‘build new, highly differentiated products and services that exploit highly granular metadata that automated semantic enrichment delivers.’ Examples of these include topic pages or collections, which are thematic publications on a given topic, and knowledge bases, databases of known facts about particular objects or



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