An interface to information retrieval from a postgraduate academic knowledge repository: open source vs freeware products.

Weideman, M.

Proceedings of the 6th Annual Conference on WWW Applications. 1-3 September. Johannesburg, South Africa.

Weideman, M. 2004. An interface to information retrieval from a postgraduate academic knowledge repository: open source vs freeware products. Proceedings of the 6th Annual Conference on WWW Applications. 1-3 September. Johannesburg, South Africa. Online: http://web-visibility.co.za/website-visibility-digital-library-seo/

ABSTRACT
The primary objective of this research project was to compare and report on the suitability of three similar but diverse products to be used as a front end in an academic knowledge representation project. The stored knowledge is to be used by research students at Master's level, and no critical evaluation or empirical experimentation could be found on a comparison between these three or similar products. The products are: Bibman (freeware), and Greenstone and Knowledge Tree (both open source). Bibman (developed at the University of the Western Cape) is an Access-based personal tool for managing bibliographical data, for use by researchers. Greenstone (produced by the New Zealand Digital Library Project at the University of Waikato) is a suite of software for building and distributing digital library collections. This includes text documents, images, audio and video. Information collections in Greenstone can be organized individually, although they bear a strong family resemblance. Knowledge Tree is claimed to be a rapidly adopted open source document management system, initially developed for the South African Medical Research Council. It is fully web-based, with support for common file formats, archiving features, full-text searches, user-defined metadata fields and virtual binders for documents, based on specified criteria. The methodology used was to identify and use three postgraduate students to populate each one of the three systems with the same collection of documents on similar topics, being stored in two standard formats. Record was kept of each process, to allow comparisons and evaluation afterwards. Issues such as ease of use, suitability to task, retrieval times and others will be compared. The results indicate that Bibman was not suited for the task of managing a digital library, and all three products offered many hurdles to the reviewers. A certain level of pre-knowledge is required for effective use of any of the products. No clear distinction between suitability to task of open source as opposed to freeware products was found.
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