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What is the openTA Literature Service?

The openTA Literature Service aggregates information on publications from member institutions of the Network Technology Assessment (NTA) as well as information on TA-relevant publications from other sources. In the long run, the openTA Literature Service aims to give a comprehensive overview over publications on TA in a narrow sense and on TA-relevant publications in a wider sense. For this purpose it is important to also grasp the history of TA as reflected in literature. A special section of the openTA Literature Service is devoted to capturing the most recent TA-relevant literature.


What does the openTA Literature Service cover?

The focus of the openTA Literature Service lies on covering German language publications since the members of the NTA are from Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The service also covers literature on TA retrieved from the German National Library going back until 1975 and from GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences going back to the 1960s. In the medium term, more and more English language publications shall be included. For this purpose the collections of the British Library and the Library of Congress are evaluated with respect to their coverage of TA-literature. The publication pool of the US-American Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) is the first important English-language source already covered by the openTA Literature Service.

If you know of further sources covering TA-relevant literature, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are always interested in expanding our database.


How many publications are indexed in the openTA Literature Service?

The number of publications indexed in the database is increasing continuously. At the start of the service in June 2014, 2,700 publications were indexed. By July 2014 already 7,700 records of TA-relevant publications were available. As of September 2014, nearly 9,200 publications were recorded.


What exactly are the publications of NTA member institutions?

The openTA Literature Service primarily indexes publications which have been published by NTA member institutions or their staff. These are publications where the NTA member institution itself acted as publisher but also publications which have been published by commercial publishing houses.

There is no restriction on a certain type of publication (f.ex. monograph, journal article or congress report) and no restriction on a certain publication language. Printed as well as electronic publications are indexed. Concerning the latter, both freely accessible material (open access publications) as well as restricted access material is indexed.


Are there also foreign (i.e. non-German) publications in the index?

Yes. While the publications can be in any language most of them are in German or English. Currently (i.e. as of Sept 2014), the external sources for the index are the German National Library, the GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences and the collection of OTA documents retrieved from the Library of Congress catalogue. We aim to include more publications from English-speaking countries (United Kingdom and USA) at a later stage as well.


Can I access the full text of publications via the openTA Literature Service?

Yes. The main focus of the openTA Literature Service is to aggregate and index bibliographic metadata. The metadata often include links pointing to a location outside of the openTA web space where the electronic full text version of the publication is stored. However, in some cases the full text may also be available within the openTA web space.


My search for a specific publication did not yield a result. Why not?

If you cannot retrieve a certain publication you expected to find, this may be simply because the relevant NTA member institution has not yet started providing its bibliographic data to openTA or because the publication does not adress a TA-related topic and was therefore excluded from our selection.


How can I add to the collection of TA-relevant literature?

There are several technical ways to contribute to the openTA Literature Service. In the future (as of Sept 2014) users will be able to enter bibliographic information on TA-relevant literature manually via a web form. You can also write to and suggest a single title or a pool of data which should be included in the Literature Service.

NTA member institutions can also transmit bibliographic data to openTA in a standardized format or a format which comes close to the specified standard. Data transmission is possible either via an interface or as an email attachment. The openTA team works closely with data providers in order to evaluate prerequisites on the side of openTA and of the interested institutions and offers technical support.

Library catalogs frequently offer standardized interfaces. By using a specific search request openTA can filter out TA-relevant publications and import the metadata.

Institutions working in the field of TA or indexing TA-relevant publications are invited to make their publication information available via openTA. Libraries interested in providing bibliographic data from their library catalog to openTA are also kindly invited to contact us.


Can I export data to my literature management system (f.ex. Citavi or EndNote)?

As of Sept 2014 this is not yet possible. However, it is planned that users can save title data e.g. in RIS or BibTeX format by simply clicking on a respective symbol on the web interface.


How can the Literature Service be used from outside of the openTA portal?

In the future it shall be possible to integrate the search functionality of the openTA Literature Service into another web space via a widget. Widget technology allows placing a search of the openTA database from an external website. The results list will then also be displayed in the widget so that users do not necessarily have to take a detour via the openTA portal. A similar widget has already been implemented for the openTA News Service.


What data formats can openTA ingest?

openTA can ingest bibliographic metadata in various formats. Currently (as of Sept 2014) data is imported in RIS, BibTeX and MARC21-xml. It is planned to import further data formats such as Dublin Core or whenever these are used by the data providers.


Will development of the Literature Service be continued?

Yes. The openTA Literature Service has been developed as part of the project "Cooperative development of a Technology Assessment portal on the basis of decentralized information resources", funded by DFG, the German Research Foundation. The first project phase was from October 2012 to October 2014. Further funding is required in order to expand the database of the openTA Literature Service and to develop further services. Independently from further funding the openTA Literature Service will be continued by the consortium of KIT institutions (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) running the project at present: the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), the Institute for Applied Computer Science (IAI) and the KIT-Library. If you are interested in providing publication data to openTA, please contact us. We are also interested in learning of any possible problems in using the Literature Service or of any ideas you might have for the further development of the Literature Service.


Where can I get further information?

You can contact the openTA project team via email. The bibliographic metadata model of the openTA Literature Service is described in openTA document No. 7 (as of Sept 2014 only available in German, an English version will be available soon). The Literature Service was presented during various workshops and conferences; the respective slides can be retrieved from here. General information on the openTA project can be found here.