OCLC COinS generator more powerful than expected

The COinS generator at http://generator.ocoins.info/ is useful for, well, generating COinS.

We like to include COinS in Code4Lib Journal article citations to materials not available on the web.  You can see more about COinS and how/why we use them if you like.

So I figured the generator was pretty mechanical — it just took the fields you entered, and inserted them into the proper data fields. There’s no text to indicate it does anything more powerful than this, and I’ve learned not to expect anything fancy library-domain software, right?

Except it looks like it actually takes the details you supply and looks up applicable ISSN, ISBN, and even DOI, and then inserts them in the OpenURL context object for you, even when you didn’t enter them!  Wow! That’s neat!  And leads to a much more reliable OpenURL, indeed.

Take this citation, which looked really mysterious to me, the citation actually looks like it’s missing some info (is that a conference proceedings? Shouldn’t it have location then?).  But okay, I entered it into the coins generator.

Göker, A., & He, D. (2000). “Analysing Web Search Logs to Determine Session Boundaries for User-Oriented Learning.” Proceedings of Adaptive Hypermedia and Adaptive Web-Based Systems, 319-322.

Which somehow, I have no idea how, figured out to add ISSN 0302-9743 to it, and DOI 10.1007/3-540-44595-1_38.

Now that ISSN doesn’t actually belong to the proceedings identified, it belongs to Lecture notes in computer science.  Where the paper was apparently (re-)published? And, with that ISSN and DOI, my own institutional link resolver somehow actually manages to find some licensed full text for me:


You can’t get passed the wall, but clicking on the Springer link really DOES get me to the full text for that article.

Not exactly sure what’s going on, but it’s kinda neat. Curious if anyone from OCLC involved in that thing reads this, and can give the technical details of what it’s actually doing.

Incidentally, that findit.library.jhu.edu page should have a COinS embedded in it itself, so if you have a COinS browser extension supplied, you can go from their to your own institutional link resolver, to see if you can get the full text from there. If you happen to be interested in this article, or just want to compare and contrast.

(Also, if you try to generate a COinS for a book, and enter the ISBN, it adds a weird rft_id value with a URL in it pointing to the Amazon page. I don’t think I like that. If I want to advertise for Amazon, I’ll choose to, thank you very much!  Also, I much prefer to record an Amazon relationship with a urn:asin: value, then with a not necessarily persistent HTML URI to an Amazon page. If I do want to record an ASIN.)


7 thoughts on “OCLC COinS generator more powerful than expected”

  1. that’s pretty cool. i was using that manual generator for my old blog, but i’ve been pretty time crunched so haven’t taken the time to paste all of the details in. It would be cool if you could, say, mix this with one of the tools that extracts references from text…. Is using the “open URL” generator in export formats from RefWorks just putting coins info in? Maybe I need to experiment.

  2. COinS is basically an OpenURL (in ‘key value’ format) _without_ the initial part of the url that actually points to a server. Basically just the query parameters. So it’s like an OpenURL, but server independent.

    I think RefWorks generates complete OpenURLs pointing to your own particular institutional repository.

    I don’t think there are any free/open source products for extracting references from text that are _quite_ ready for prime time, although getting close.

  3. So i could make my own refworks “style” that has coins stuff, but for wider use, like on an external blog, makes sense not to use the one that’s generated by the system. I’m hopeful about bibapp and Mendeley

  4. Behind COINS generator is the Worldcat Link Manager, that may explain why it has the power of adding extra metadata.

  5. Christina, the thing is, a COinS in a page will only be recognized if you have a browser extension like LibX installed. In an out of the box browser, it’ll be invisible.

    There’s no way to create an openURL-like thing that points to the particular user’s own institutional link resolver in a way that will work without a browser extension.

    Well, actually, there’s one way which will sometimes work. IF the user’s institutional link resolver is registered with OCLC, and IF the user is on-campus (at their respective institution), then you can use the OCLC OpenURL redirector to direct them to their link resolver. Won’t work if the user isn’t at an IP address recognized for their campus though.

  6. I have some time @ work to develop an opensource OpenURL Builder.
    It would consolidate the various implementations we have in our software stack specifically for SFX and ILLiad interfacing. Do you know of opensource OpenURL builders out there or have input on what you would like a project like this to accomplish?

    Planning to implement in Java and make available via maven.

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