Resource discovery in heterogeneous digital content environments

  • George Macgregor

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The concept of 'resource discovery' is central to our understanding of how users explore, navigate, locate and retrieve information resources. This submission for a PhD by Published Works examines a series of 11 related works which explore topics pertaining to resource discovery, each demonstrating heterogeneity in their digital discovery context. The assembled works are prefaced by nine chapters which seek to review and critically analyse the contribution of each work, as well as provide contextualization within the wider body of research literature. A series of conceptual sub-themes is used to organize and structure the works and the accompanying critical commentary. The thesis first begins by examining issues in distributed discovery contexts by studying collection level metadata (CLM), its application in 'information landscaping' techniques, and its relationship to the efficacy of federated item-level search tools. This research narrative continues but expands in the later works and commentary to consider the application of Knowledge Organization Systems (KOS), particularly within Semantic Web and machine interface contexts, with investigations of semantically aware terminology services in distributed discovery. The necessary modelling of data structures to support resource discovery - and its associated functionalities within digital libraries and repositories - is then considered within the novel context of technology-supported curriculum design repositories, where questions of human-computer interaction (HCI) are also examined. The final works studied as part of the thesis are those which investigate and evaluate the efficacy of open repositories in exposing knowledge commons to resource discovery via web search agents. Through the analysis of the collected works it is possible to identify a unifying theory of resource discovery, with the proposed concept of (meta)data alignment described and presented with a visual model. This analysis assists in the identification of a number of research topics worthy of further research; but it also highlights an incremental transition by the present author, from using research to inform the development of technologies designed to support or facilitate resource discovery, particularly at a 'meta' level, to the application of specific technologies to address resource discovery issues in a local context. Despite this variation the research narrative has remained focussed on topics surrounding resource discovery in heterogeneous digital content environments and is noted as having generated a coherent body of work. Separate chapters are used to consider the methodological approaches adopted in each work and the contribution made to research knowledge and professional practice.
Date of Award1 Dec 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorDiane Pennington (Supervisor) & David McMenemy (Supervisor)

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