More "stuff like this"…

Just a little follow on from the previous blog post

Spurred on by comments from Lisa, I’m exploring if we can filter the recommendations so that they become more relevant to students in a specific academic school, or even to students on a specific course, and the initial results look fairly promising :-)

Let’s look at a couple of examples:

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy (ISSN 0144-333X)

Here are the recommendations based on usage by all users. A quick browse through the items shows a range of subject areas — social exclusion, economics, human resources, etc, and a student would need to sift through to spot the items relevant to their subject area.

Now let’s filter the recommendations so that they’re only based on usage by students in a specific academic school:

…hopefully you can spot that the recommendations suddenly jump to becoming much more relevant to courses in that particular school.

Managerial Auditing Journal (ISSN 0268-6902)

Let’s drill a bit deeper this time and look at courses in the Business school:

Without knowing how our course codes are created, you can probably guess that courses starting with “BA…” are mostly accountancy & finance, and that those starting with “BM…” are to do with leadership and management.

"People who looked at this thing, also looked at this stuff…"

We’ve had serendipity suggestions on the OPAC for nearly 7 years now, but they’ve been based entirely around the physical collection in the library.

After Friday’s Skype chat to the SPLURGE Hackfest, I got to thinking about how we can hook the e-stuff into the recommendations, so I’ve spent the weekend gathering data from our library management system, our link resolver and our EZProxy logs to see what happens if they all go into the same melting pot.

It’s a very rough & ready “crappy prototype”, but you can have a play around with it here. If you get an empty page, click on the “pick random item” link until something interesting happens.

At the moment, the recommendations are being built from a database of just over 5 million events (approx 70% of those are item loans and the rest are accesses of online journals). If you take the “Midwifery” journal as a starting point, you’ll get a list of the other books and journals that people have looked at. The algorithm behind it is the same one I’ve discussed previously.

If you hover over a title, you’ll see the usage info breakdown, e.g. “42 / 56″ means that 56 different users in total have looked at the recommended item, and 42 of those also looked at the item we’re generating the recommendations for.

I’ve not done any de-duping, so you might get the same journal title being repeated (once for the print ISSN and once for the e-ISSN), and I’ve not included any ebook usage data yet. I’ve also avoided merging the two lists together until I can figure out a suitable way of weighting book loans against online journal usage.

Picking random items, it’s apparent that some courses lean more towards book borrowing (i.e. very few journal recommendations), whilst stundents studying other subjects are heavy online journal users (i.e. very few book recommendations).

So, what do you think — is it useful to be able to show more than just book recommendations to students?

Tweaking the Summon Search Widget code

Summon has a really cool new custom search box building widget that includes the ability to pre-limit a search to a specific discipline (or disciplines). The widget also allows you to pre-select which facets to apply to the search.

A question came up on the SummonClients mailing list asking if it was possible to exclude facets from the search — “[is there] a way to exclude newspapers AND book reviews (AND possibly Dissertations) from the initial search”? There isn’t an obvious way at the moment to do that, but I’m a shambrarian and I like to tweak and tinker with things :-D

So, to exclude a content type facet…

1) Go into the Search Box Builder widget and expand the Content Type selection:

2) Select any Content Types to you want to exclude (e.g. Book Review, Dissertation/Thesis and Newspaper Article):

3) Make any other changes you want (appearance, other facets, etc) and click on Get Code to get the widget’s HTML:

At this point, we’ve got a search widget that will only find results that are Book Reviews, Dissertation/Thesis (Thesii? Thesissesses?) or Newspaper Articles. So, the final change to make is to tweak the HTML so that those 3 types are excluded, which you can do by adding a ,t to each of them:

...["ContentType,Dissertation,t",
"ContentType,Book Review,t",
"ContentType,Newspaper Article,t"]...

The result should be a custom search box that excludes the chosen content types: