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Knowledgespeak Exclusive - An interview with Tim Collins, President, EBSCO Publishing - 12 Jun 2007

Q

Briefly tell us how are the services offered by your company linked with the overall business of your parent?

A

EBSCO Industries, Inc. is active in numerous industries worldwide, but EBSCO Publishing’s services are most directly related to EBSCO’s subscription services business serving the world’s libraries. Generally speaking, EBSCO Publishing offers online research services via its EBSCOhost platform whereas EBSCO’s subscription service division generally provides services related to the ordering and management of print and online journals, online journal packages, and books.


Q

Give us a summary of the database offerings on the EBSCOhost platform?

A

With over 200 databases available via EBSCOhost, our database offerings vary greatly depending on the type of institutions being served. We offer a comprehensive collection of research databases for school and public libraries, including magazine/journal based full-text databases, a career research service, a reader’s advisory service (NoveList), and do-it-yourself databases such as Home Improvement Reference Center. For the academic market, we offer the most comprehensive collection of secondary databases and full-text databases in the industry. Our Academic Search and Business Source databases have become industry standards. For the medical market, we offer a range of full-text databases as well as several EBSCO-owned resources such as CINAHL, the leading secondary database for nursing and allied health research, and DynaMed, the fast-growing point of care research tool for doctors.


Q

In Dec 2006, you announced enhancements to the EBSCOhost interface. How has the medical community responded to the new platform?

A

We have been very encouraged by the response we have received from the medical community to our enhanced EBSCOhost interface and expanded product line. We have gained tremendous momentum in this market over recent years as we have increased the investment we have made in the product development and sales area in support of our effort. Our efforts here are being rewarded with strong sales growth, and we are continuing to invest heavily in this area.


Q

EBSCO Publishing recently announced an agreement with the New England Journal of Medicine. How is this agreement expected to benefit Librarians?

A

The New England Journal of Medicine is generally one of the ten most-cited journals in the world. It usually has the highest impact factor of the journals of clinical medicine. It is particularly strong in internal medicine, cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, hematology, kidney disease, oncology, pulmonary disease, rheumatology, HIV, and infectious diseases. We are pleased to add full text of The New England Journal of Medicine, with a 90-day embargo, to our MEDLINE with Full Text database. MEDLINE with Full Text provides full text for nearly 1,200 journals indexed in MEDLINE, including many journals with no embargo. This unprecedented collection contains full text for more than 20% of the journals actively indexed on a cover-to-cover basis. The addition of The New England Journal of Medicine to MEDLINE with Full Text will increase the amount of content that users will be able to readily access via the user friendly EBSCOhost interface.


Q

Briefly tell us about your new resources Academic Search Complete and Points of View Reference Center. How are these of benefit to academic researchers?

A

Academic Search Complete is the world's most valuable and comprehensive scholarly, multi-disciplinary full-text database, featuring more than 5,300 full-text periodicals, including 4,400 peer-reviewed journals. In addition to full-text content, this database offers indexing and abstracts for a total of 10,900 publications including more than 9,300 journals as well as numerous monographs, reports, conference proceedings, etc. This scholarly collection offers unmatched full-text coverage of information in many areas of academic study including: archaeology, area studies, astronomy, biology, chemistry, civil engineering, electrical engineering, ethnic & multicultural studies, food science & technology, general science, geography, geology, law, mathematics, mechanical engineering, music, physics, psychology, religion & theology, women's studies, and other fields. The database features PDF content going back as far as 1865, with the majority of full-text titles in a native (searchable) PDF format. Searchable cited references are also provided for 1,000 journals.

Academic Search Complete benefits academic researchers by making the full text of more valuable content available to them via their library’s electronic resource collection. Points of View Reference Center is an exciting, powerful new database designed for the researcher who is faced with the challenge of evaluating the issues of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. In a single, easily to use interface, Points of View Reference Center provides a balanced series of articles representing multiple viewpoints, to help readers understand the full scope of a wide range of controversial subjects.

Instructional guides and clear interface links lead the user from alpha topic list to the select Points of View results tab which provides a background Overview, Point and Counterpoint essays. Additionally, selected articles, readily available images, and links to other resources enhance the global information surrounding each topic. The Guides to Critical Analysis on each topic assists in understanding the issue and the creation of a position paper or debate argument. This guided navigation lends itself to a successful search experience and positive learning outcome for both the first-time or experienced researcher.

Thousands of supporting articles from the world’s top political and societal publications provide a backdrop for further exploration. The collection complementing these foundation essays is comprised of proprietary and licensed full-text articles. Instructional materials help researchers better understand the controversies. Emphasis is placed upon guiding readers to develop analytical thinking skills, and to prepare persuasive arguments and debates.


Q

You recently announced an agreement with Newstex. Please elaborate.

A

Our customers have asked us to include relevant current content and commentary to complement the premium content we provide in our databases. Blogs are an increasingly prevalent and useful source of information. While they are not as authoritative as the journals and magazines covered in our databases, well-regarded blogs do provide additional perspectives on a range of issues. Newstex specializes in identifying the best blogs in specific areas, particularly in business commentary. They utilize a robust rating system to select the blogs to cover, and then they get permission from the bloggers to provide full text of the blog postings. Working with Newstex, we are able to enhance our content offerings with relevant full text from a range of blogs. Accessing blog content is easy via our EBSCOhost result list, and can be just as easily “turned off” for those that do not wish to incorporate blog content into their search results.


Q

Who do you consider your major competitors in the market today? What are EBSCO Publishing’s strengths and weakness versus your competitors?

A

Given the breadth of our product offerings, we overlap with many companies. Most would likely place ProQuest CSA, Gale, and OVID as those we overlap with the most. I would say that we contrast most with these companies in regard to the longevity of our company ownership and senior management team. ProQuest CSA and Gale have obviously been in the news recently with their ownership changes and OVID, of course, was acquired by Wolters Kluwer in the not-so-distant past and then merged with SilverPlatter. I joined EBSCO in 1987 and have been managing EBSCO Publishing as an EBSCO division for over 20 years. Most of our senior managers have 10 or more, years with the company – several with over 15 years. This team has built a company that is committed to listening to its customers and devoted to continuously improving and expanding its product line.


Q

Comment on your company’s performance for the fiscal 2006, highlighting key challenges that were successfully tackled.

A

The company experienced tremendous growth in fiscal 2006, including strong increases in developing nations. Many of the editors of key journals, as well as officials in university presses and learned societies & associations, are particularly motivated to see their content accessed by researchers in less economically developed countries and newly industrialized nations. A major goal of EBSCO Publishing is to do everything we can to bridge the global digital divide; and we are making good progress. For more info, please see:

“Developing Nations, the Digital Divide and Research Databases”
Serials Review, Volume 31, Issue 4, December 2005, Pages 270-278
Sam Brooks, Paul Donovan and Clint Rumble

Further, for many years we have received requests from our customers for full-text versions of EconLit and MEDLINE. The problem we faced was that all of our full-text databases were built around indexes owned by EBSCO. However, after years of development, we were able to release EconLit with Full Text, a major new database co-published by EBSCO Publishing and the American Economic Association, as well as MEDLINE with Full Text, a full-text version of the National Library of Medicine's index. These are the world's most comprehensive full-text databases in the area of economics (EconLit with Full Text has full-text for more than 400 journals as well dozens of books) and medicine (MEDLINE with Full Text has full text for nearly 1,200 journals). Both of these databases provide full text for many journals not found in other products from EBSCO or via databases from other companies.

Another challenge we successfully tackled was to expand access to open access journals. EBSCO's databases are academia's most used for-fee online research tools, so it is our responsibility to help give exposure to open access journals. Our products now include many of these sources, offering them more exposure than was ever before possible. It was a time consuming project, but now we offer indexing for the best of these journals in our subject-specific research databases and we are set up to add good journals as they become available in the future.


Q

What are your growth plans for 2007? Any new initiatives planned for developing nations like India and China?

A

We continue to experience significant growth in 2007 and have released a steady stream of products across all of markets within which we operate. EBSCO Publishing is now the leading provider of reference databases to academic institutions in mainland China and India. We were one of the first information providers to invest in local sales and support organizations in both countries. Nearly all major universities and management institutes in these countries either utilize EBSCO’s full-text databases or they have no full-text databases at all. Today, these same customers are expanding their EBSCO Publishing holdings by subscribing to subject-specific and other specialty databases. In addition, EBSCO Publishing is taking the lead in introducing information resources to non-academic organizations. Our commitment to the continued development of both countries is long term. To this end, EBSCO Publishing's Vice President of Sales for Africa, Asia and Australia has been based in Beijing for several years.


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