FIZ Karlsruhe

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FIZ AutoDoc - a web-based full-text broker service

The Internet has revolutionised the world of scientific information technology. Probably the most important revolution has been the ease with which a user can now search for information anywhere in the world. Thanks to networks such as STN International, a wealth of scientific databases is available to any interested individual or group. While the ability to search abstracts was implemented early on in the networked world, the process of ordering the full-texts of articles remained a cumbersome process: having found a paper, the user often had to manually contact a library and organise the delivery themselves. This was time-consuming and required knowledge of library holdings.

FIZ AutoDoc, a full-text web-broker service, was launched by FIZ Karlsruhe in 1997 to make the delivery of complete articles easy for all users. Since then it has matured into a product serving more than 120,000 user-requests a year. FIZ AutoDoc now provides an easy-to-use interface and a suite of powerful features that benefit users and the information providers.

FIZ Karlsruhe is an international scientific service institution, which has been providing information services to academic and industrial scientists for more than 30 years. It produces and provides databases that cover various fields of science, technology and patent files. This provision is mainly through its premier online service, STN International, which contains more than 220 databases. The service is provided jointly by service centres in Germany (operated by FIZ Karlsruhe), in the USA (by CAS, in Ohio) and in Japan (by the Japan Science and Technology Agency).

FIZ AutoDoc: an overview

FIZ AutoDoc is a tool that is used once a paper has been found, perhaps by using the STN International Network. The ordering process is very simple. Once found by means of a search, the user completes an order for the full-text of the article online. This is automatically forwarded to the appropriate supplier. The supplier sends the document to the customer and, importantly, the invoice to FIZ Karlsruhe. At the end of each month, the customer is sent one invoice by FIZ Karlsruhe that covers all documents delivered by different suppliers. The reduced effort required of the customer is immediately clear: they are not responsible for contacting a number of suppliers and they do not have to pay multiple invoices.

The ordering process itself is flexible, with different order forms depending on the type of literature requested. FIZ AutoDoc has menu-guided masks for journal articles, patent literature, reports, conference proceedings, and more.

Figure 1: Entry mask for journal article ordering

Once the bibliographic data has been entered, the system assigns the associated ISSN and selects an appropriate supplier. The customer then chooses between three article processing speeds. A normal order will be delivered in 48 hours. A rush order will reach the customer in a maximum of 24 hours, and a super rush order in a mere three hours. The order can be delivered by email, secure electronic delivery, fax or through the mail as a printed copy. The details of all the customer's orders are stored online and can be viewed at any time, using the history section of the interface.

Figure 2: List of orders available with the "History" button

Access to FIZ AutoDoc

One of the great advantages of FIZ AutoDoc is the variety of ways in which it can be accessed. As well as a stand-alone web-service (which can be found at, FIZ AutoDoc can be incorporated into company intranets. This has been the biggest area of growth for FIZ AutoDoc, with more than half of all orders being placed this way.

Figure 3: The usage distribution of the different means of access

In FIZ AutoDoc PLUS, the package for intranets, the home page can be customised with company logos, news, help pages, contacts and email addresses. The company account administrator's life is made easier too. Cost-centre administration is simple, as is management of internal user accounts.

If more extensive intranet-integration is desired, FIZ AutoDoc PREMIUM provides extra features. In the PREMIUM version, ISSN lists of internally-owned articles may be imported; this avoids the occasional accidental ordering of articles which the company has already paid for. Additionally, the PREMIUM version provides statistics relating to e-journal access and to the forwarding of orders of in-house documents to the corporate library.

The final way that FIZ AutoDoc's features can be accessed is through the STN Full-Text Solution. Records in the STN database are seamlessly and automatically connected to the electronic full-texts at publishers' websites - or, if these are not available, to FIZ AutoDoc, making ordering a simple operation. In this model of FIZ AutoDoc, article orders are added to a customer's monthly STN invoice. Other information providers, such as SciFinder, SwetsWise and EBSCO can be linked in to FIZ AutoDoc in a similar way.

FIZ Karlsruhe has formed partnerships with a wide variety of renowned international libraries, publishers and aggregators in order to ensure a comprehensive full-text supply. These partners span the globe and the numbers are continuously growing. A full list is available on the FIZ Karlsruhe web site (see

Copyright fees

With information coming from and going to so many different countries, the issue of copyright can be complicated. In France and Germany, for example, a fixed copyright fee per article is levied. In the UK and in the USA, on the other hand, the publisher sets the copyright fees.

FIZ AutoDoc has implemented sophisticated behind-the-scenes systems to ensure correct payment whatever the source and destination of the information. The document provider benefits by not being burdened with the task of establishing the correct copyright fees to be paid to clearing houses.

Many beneficial features

FIZ AutoDoc is almost completely automated, but even in our advanced world of technological synchronisation, not all orders can be processed without human interaction. In some cases, bibliographic information will be incomplete or inaccurate. Some documents are simply not available through conventional book traders. To work around this, FIZ AutoDoc provides an option to create a manual order. When such an order is created, FIZ Karlsruhe's Document Supply Service team are called in. These competent and experienced staff have a wide knowledge of content ordering and searching and will attempt to get the document by whatever path possible.

Throughout the life of FIZ AutoDoc, the developers have kept several key aspects in mind in order to provide the greatest benefit to their users. Paramount has been the high priority given to the user-friendliness of the product. The interface is clean and uncluttered, and context-sensitive help is provided, as is full back-up and assistance from the special services team whenever it is required.

Customers' administrative and billing efforts are minimised by FIZ AutoDoc. Even though many articles may be ordered from many different suppliers, the customer only receives one invoice per month. This invoice summarises all costs for that period in one simple document, and drastically reduces the time spent on administration.

The benefits of FIZ AutoDoc go beyond the customers. The content suppliers also gain from the product. Their administrative costs are reduced greatly, since customer billing is handled by FIZ Karlsruhe. More important, however, is the fact that their documents will reach a far greater audience, giving them a greater pool of potential, and actual, customers.

FIZ AutoDoc is a deservedly expanding web-broker service. Its features make for a painless and time-saving user experience for anyone, regardless of their knowledge of library holdings. Whether through the web portal, integrated in intranets, or linked with other information providers' systems, FIZ AutoDoc is an excellent solution for all full-text requirements.

Unique insights into trends in scientific and patent information - from STN AnaVist

FIZ Karlsruhe and Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) have recently released the new software STN AnaVist, which will give information professionals a variety of ways to analyse and view the information found in STN's scientific literature and patent databases online. This ability will give researchers greater value from search results and better support for critical business decisions.

Capabilities available in STN AnaVist, out this summer, were developed in response to the expressed needs of information professionals for advanced tools to help them analyse search results from scientific literature and patent databases and visualise patterns and trends in the research landscape.

Now searchers will be able to assimilate and present information more effectively to support competitive intelligence, research and development strategy and management decision-making.

'STN AnaVist creates an interactive workspace to interpret patent and research data in new and innovative ways. It allows users to identify relationships between the data,' says Sabine Br�nger-Weilandt, managing director and CEO of FIZ Karlsruhe. 'Through pictures and landscapes, based on the traditional research results, our users will gain exciting new perspectives and insights - a new vista of scientific knowledge.'

CAS President Robert J Massie added: 'The information challenge of the 21st century is not information access, but information utilisation. STN AnaVist is an important first step from the STN partnership to bring new technologies to bear on this challenge. Using results from CAS databases and others on STN, information users will now be able to view the competitive landscape, visualise where research is heading - and receive a much greater return on their investment in information.'

Key features of STN AnaVist include the ability to analyse information from three leading scientific resources: the CAplus database of scientific literature and patent information from CAS; and the USPATFULL and PCTFULL patent databases, which contain the full text of US and Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) patents. It also provides an interactive workspace displaying a range of data visualisations, dynamically integrated, which include cluster and contour maps, histograms, and co-occurrence matrices, and it allows the harmonisation and standardisation of data prior to visualisation using algorithms based on intellectual data analysis.

STN AnaVist has a data grouping feature that helps to minimise the scattering of results by permitting editing and customising data elements across the databases and it offers two options for creating results for analysis: an integrated concept search capability within STN AnaVist; and the import of search results into STN AnaVist from STN Express software. All of these powerful options for data analysis are available in a modern, easy-to-use interface.

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