In 2013 East View invested in a new platform with the aim of simplifying search access, releasing a very simple basic box search and then an advanced search in fall of 2013.
The basic search option, covering all fields including full text, presents some limitations. There is no note on use of Boolean operators; default search applies the “or” operator, resulting in broad and imprecise results. Also, basic search currently does not provide tools to narrow search results.
The advanced search interface, introduced in October 2013, is definitely easier to use than the previous alternative from Dialog (through ProQuest), but it is not totally intuitive, and could use some refining. The first three fields are presented as repeatable variables, options which could be more clearly labeled. The field labels themselves are ambiguous: “Entire Article” means full text; “Title” apparently means article title, and “Source Name” apparently means source title. Do titles need to be exact, or can they be just the opening phrases, or title key words?
The user does have the benefit of the original OSC subject headings, presented as a list of topics which can be searched in combination with other factors such as regions or countries. (e.g. Crime, Dissent, Domestic Economic, Domestic Political, Energy, Human Rights, etc.).
Searches can be limited by date of insertion or publication, and a range of dates can be applied (unlike in the browse interface). But it is not apparent how to narrow results by date after they are displayed. Also, unfortunately search results are not highlighted in context or as snippets. One must browse through an entire document. For example, the portion of an August 2013 North Korean news agency newsletter pertinent to the heading “Caribbean Americas—International Political—Cuba” is located four pages into a list of one-sentence bulletins. This is apparently a factor of the level of xml markup.
Broad browse categories are divided by region (Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, Near East & South Asia, Oceania). The browse view defaults to Africa. A calendar view offers selection of a particular date for retrospective browsing. Unfortunately, it has not been configured to allow browsing of a range of dates. Also, the user must note that the date appears to be the “insertion date,” not the original source date.
It seems that the variability of source metadata incorporated with the translated documents probably works in opposition to a simplified, unified approach to effective retrieval. Notably, East View reported ongoing “data cleanup” early in 2014 after loading a full run of back records. Country names need to be normalized: the drop-down list of country search terms included both “Korea, North” (yielding a few records) and “North Korea” (yielding the majority of records), along with an odd assortment of non-standard versions for the “West Bank”, including “West”, “West Bank &”, “West Bank & Gaza”, etc.
Also, because of the great variety of international sources included, and because WNC is indexed by individual article rather than serial issues, serial titles are currently not identified by ISSNs. Therefore they are not available for Open URL linking. East View has reported that adding ISSNs at a publication level, but not at the article level, may be possible with future iterations of the platform.
In comparing the East View platform with ProQuest, while it has long been acknowledged that the traditional ProQuest Dialog interface was challenging and not fully suitable for academic uses (similar to other Dialog databases), CRL members have noted that the new ProQuest interface is fairly effective. The ProQuest interface for WNC offers an advanced search function that has the advantages of separately indexing abstracts, authors, document titles, publication titles, document types, and some subject headings. Moreover, sections are tagged. One drawback to the ProQuest interface is that geographic searching forces the user to select from a long list of countries, as opposed to regional groupings.