Enhancements Make IEEE Xplore Easier to Use

Articles in HTML format are due by year’s end

7 September 2012

IEEE this year launched its new business platform, IBP, which includes enhancements to IEEE Xplore. Here’s a look at its new features, as well as what to expect in the future.

Creating a new account now takes just a few simple steps: Key in your first and last names, your e-mail address, and a password, then select and answer two security questions. The process takes place within the digital library—unlike the old way, which brought you to another IEEE site where you also had to answer questions about your job and technical interests. And the new account can be used to access other IEEE services, eliminating the need to set up yet another user name and password.

With the new IEEE account, you can tailor IEEE Xplore to your needs. From the My Settings drop-down menu on the navigation bar, you may, for example, save frequently used searches, designate how you want search results displayed, and archive up to 50 of your most recent searches. You also can sign up to receive an alert by e-mail when a magazine in your area of interest has been posted online, with a link to its table of contents.

Instead of being limited to browsing by type of content only, such as books, conference publications, or standards, you can now look for material about any of 16 broad topics, including aerospace, nuclear eng­ineering, and robotics and control systems.

“Categorizing the information into these topics allows users to discover the rich content of the library,” says Prakash Bellur, senior director of IEEE Platform Design, the group in Piscataway, N.J., that oversees the digital library.

Article abstracts also received a makeover. New, easier-to-use tabs have been added that contain an article’s index terms, references, and information such as the ISBN, the publication date, and the date it was uploaded to the library.

Buying an article is easier as well. A click on its title or the PDF icon brings you to a page showing prices. Just click on the Add to Cart button, and up pops a menu confirming what you want to buy. That screen also has another new feature: related articles that may be of interest. You can either keep shopping or go ahead and check out.

In the Works
For the past year, IEEE has been converting articles published between 2002 and 2012 from PDF into an XML format that will be offered in IEEE Xplore as interactive HTML files, in addition to PDFs. Journal articles, conference proceedings, and standards published this year and last will be available in HTML versions within the next few months.

Every piece of information—including each abstract, reference, math formula, and image—is being converted to XML.

“As PDFs, the content is constrained to bits and bytes,” says Bellur. “With this conversion, we’ll build a relationship with the content, making it more interactive and providing a much better user experience.”

From the Quick Preview feature atop each article, users will be able to read its abstract, keywords, multimedia files, authors’ names, references, and citations or see the figures.

Other time-saving features include skipping from one section of an article to another by hitting the jump key. Also, hovering your cursor over individual footnotes displays their details on the screen. Click on a keyword, and you’ll find other articles that use that same term.

While reading, you can also enlarge images and copy them into another document. Contact information for authors is also there, and so are their photos. And you can search for other papers written by the same author.

So that you can find your way around an article, a navigation bar—which lets you click for the full-text version, footnotes, references, authors’ names, citations, keywords, or corrections—is fixed on the right side of the screen. And while in the article, users have several options: downloading the PDF version, bookmarking it for future reading, e-mailing it to a colleague, printing it, or downloading its citations.

IEEE Xplore also tries to enhance users’ knowledge with reading recommendations, called “articles of influence.”

“We are redefining the researcher’s experience,” Bellur says. “It will no longer be bound by the limits of a PDF.”

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