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Federated Search


presenter: Mark Phillips

(part of the 10.17.06 ETG Meeting)

basics of federated search

non-federated searching


federated search enables a single search to reach all information sources


federated search vs. faceted search

    • some products do both
    • faceted search narrows results by grouping


audience for federated search

    • average user
    • not librarians
    • "At its heart, metasearch is about providing easy access for the user to complex resources. It is not a tool that allows librarians—or other expert users— to search with greater precision. It's not for us, it's for the average user." Judy Luther, "Trumping Google," Library Journal



  • far from perfect; there is no perfect solution
    • not precise in what it retrieves
    • get different search results through different protocols
  • it's a start
  • trying it can give us an idea of what's bad and what's good


approaches (ways to do federated search)




electronic resources

  • hairy situation: link resolving
  • searching 50 databases at a time takes awhile
    • bad user experience
  • maybe top 1 - 3 databases that are used 75% of the time
  • balance:
    • fast results
    • simpler result set
    • broad search (dataset)
  • knowledge base
    • connection information
    • frequently updated
    • expensive commerically (quick updates)
  • link resolver
    • do we have access to this article?


major players



  • general undergradiate searching (quicksearch)
  • subject-specific search portals
    • University of Rochester
    • class pages/subject guides contain a portal search
    • work links into WebCT/Blackboard
      • "find articles" link



  • multiple query structures
    • "creator" vs. "author"
  • multiple language sources
  • metadata differences
  • relevance ranking differences
    • for one search result list
  • lag in response
    • 10 seconds feels long
  • duplicate records from different databases

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