Web Magazine for Information Professionals

EEVL Xtra: The Hidden Web at Your Fingertips

Roddy MacLeod looks at the latest service from EEVL.

EEVL Xtra - In a Nutshell

EEVL Xtra [1] is an exciting new, free service which helps people find articles, books, the best Web sites, the latest industry news, job announcements, technical reports, technical data, full text eprints, the latest research, teaching and learning resources and more, in engineering, mathematics and computing.

EEVL Xtra cross-searches (hence the ‘X’ in Xtra) over twenty different collections/ databases relevant to engineering, mathematics and computing, and includes content from over fifty publishers and providers. EEVL Xtra doesn’t simply point users towards these databases, but rather allows their content to be searched directly from the EEVL Xtra Web site. Limiting results to particular resource types is made easy via a drop-down menu which restricts results to a choice of different types of material (e.g. articles, books, industry news, etc). An ‘All’ category is also available, as well as advanced search options.

In all, several million documents, including articles, abstracts, eprints, books, Web sites, news items, job announcements, news items, and teaching and learning materials are indexed by EEVL Xtra. Although the reach of the popular search engines is constantly expanding, they do not index some of these resources, and do not provide such a subject perspective, hence EEVL Xtra can justifiably claim to provide access to the ‘hidden web’ for engineering, mathematics and computing.

EEVL Xtra is aimed at academics, researchers, students, lecturers, practising professionals and anyone else looking for information in engineering, mathematics and computing.

 screenshot (45KB) : Figure 1: Screenshot of the EEVL

Figure 1: Screenshot of the EEVL Xtra home page


In a previous issue of Ariadne [2] I reported on the results of a 2004 Web-based questionnaire about EEVL, which was completed by 364 people. As well as providing valuable feedback on the existing EEVL service, entrants were asked to rate six ideas for possible new EEVL services. Top of the list, with 80 ranking it a ‘Very good idea’, 113 ‘Good’ and 107 ‘OK’, came a proposed service which would allow searching of a range of free databases from one place. This is, essentially, what the new EEVL Xtra service now provides.


Using software developed by the Subject Portals Project [3], and using Z39.50 and OAI-PMH protocols, EEVL Xtra enables multiple databases to be queried simultaneously from one search box. The list of databases currently includes:

Several more databases are due to be added to the cross-search, providing access to information about publications from Morgan & Claypool [24], IHS [25] and Emerald [26]. As other databases become available, more will, we hope, be added in the future.

screenshot (50KB) : Figure 2: Screenshot of EEVL Xtra results summary page

Figure 2: Screenshot of EEVL Xtra results summary page

Figure 2 shows the Results Summary for a typical search in ‘All’ databases.

screenshot (53KB) : Figure 3: Screenshot of EEVL Xtra results page

Figure 3: Screenshot of EEVL Xtra results page

Figure 3 shows the Results page from the ePrints database for a search for ‘metals’. The Results Summary (see Figure 2 above) is shown to the left of the screen.

On the EEVL Xtra home page there are several ‘Xtra Extras’ which link directly to some of the databases included in the cross-search, plus:

The EEVL Xtra service has several limitations. The range of databases cross-searched is, so far, relatively limited, results from different databases are not de-duplicated, ranking is dependent on how results are returned to the server via external M2M links, and like all cross-search services, search features are limited. In addition, EEVL Xtra does not have the functionality provided by, for example, commercial library portal services. Despite these limitations, as a simple-to-use, free tool which does not require logging in or registration, EEVL Xtra is useful for scanning what resources are available from a number of important sources on a subject basis. Its value was recognised by the popular ResourceShelf, which made it Resource of the Week on 2 June 2005 [36].

The Xtra Team

EEVL Xtra is an initiative of Heriot Watt University.

photo (11KB) : Figure 4: The Xtra men

Figure 4: The Xtra men

Pictured above are some of the Heriot Watt staff who have worked on the EEVL Xtra service: left to right - Roddy MacLeod, Geir Granum, Santy Chumbe and Daniel Pacey. Not pictured are Malcolm Moffat and Colin Gruber, who have also contributed to the effort.

About EEVL

EEVL, the Internet guide to engineering, mathematics and computing, is a UK-based not-for-profit free guide. It was created and is run by a team of information specialists from Heriot Watt University, with input from a number of other universities in the UK, including the University of Birmingham and Cranfield University. EEVL provides academics, researchers, students, and anyone else looking for quality-assured information in engineering, mathematics and computing, with a centralised access point on the Internet.

EEVL, which is funded by JISC through the Resource Discovery Network (RDN), is available on the Web at: http://www.eevl.ac.uk/


  1. EEVL Xtra http://www.eevlxtra.ac.uk/
  2. EEVL News: What EEVL Users Really Want , July 2004, Issue 40 July Ariadne http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue40/eevl/
  3. Subject Portals Project Phase II http://www.portal.ac.uk/spp/
  4. arXiv.org e-Print archive http://arxiv.org/
  5. ePrints-UK Service Demo http://eprints-uk.rdn.ac.uk/
  6. Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI) http://cisti-icist.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/cisti_e.html
  7. CSA Hot Topics http://www.csa.com/hottopics/hottopics-main.php
  8. The RDN ePrints-UK Project http://eprints-uk.rdn.ac.uk/
  9. Copac Home Page http://copac.ac.uk/
  10. The EEVL Web site http://www.eevl.ac.uk/
  11. EEVL’s Ejournal Search Engines http://www.eevl.ac.uk/eese/
  12. EEVL Web Site Search Engine http://www.eevl.ac.uk/search-engine.htm
  13. Project Euclid Home Page http://projecteuclid.org/Dienst/UI/1.0/Home
  14. Inderscience Publishers http://www.inderscience.com/
  15. CrossRef Search http://www.iop.org/EJ/S/3/542/search
  16. National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics Technical Report Server http://naca.larc.nasa.gov/
  17. NASA Technical Report Server (NTRS) http://ntrs.nasa.gov/
  18. EEVL OneStep Industry News http://www.eevl.ac.uk/onestepnews/
  19. EEVL OneStep Jobs http://www.eevl.ac.uk/onestepjobs/
  20. Pearson Education http://www.pearsoned.co.uk/
  21. Recent Advances in Manufacturing (RAM) Database http://www.eevl.ac.uk/ram/
  22. SearchLT Engineering http://searchlt.engineering.ac.uk/
  23. Zetoc - British Library’s Electronic Table of Contents http://zetoc.mimas.ac.uk/
  24. Morgan & Claypool Publishers http://www.morganclaypool.com/
  25. IHS University Resource Centre http://www.ihsurc.com/index.html
  26. Emerald http://www.emerald-library.com/
  27. Emerald Abstracts - Civil Engineering Trends http://titania.emeraldinsight.com/vl=3493257/cl=92/nw=1/rpsv/abstracts/icea/trends/
  28. EEVL Xtra Quick Search ESDU http://www.eevlxtra.ac.uk/esdu.php
  29. Pro-Talk internet publishing http://www.pro-talk.com/
  30. EEVL Trade Publications http://eevl.tradepub.com/
  31. Pearson Education - EEVL On-Line Bookstore http://www.pearsoned.co.uk/bookshop/subject.asp?item=6252&affid=EVL
  32. Offshore Engineering Information Service (OEIS) - Heriot-Watt University http://www.eevl.ac.uk/offshore/
  33. EEVL Web Tutorials: The RDN Virtual Training Suite (VTS) http://www.eevl.ac.uk/vts/index.htm
  34. Internet Resources Newsletter http://www.hw.ac.uk/libwww/irn/irn.html
  35. PINAKES, A Subject LaunchPad http://www.hw.ac.uk/libwww/irn/pinakes/pinakes.html
  36. ResourceShelf - Thursday, June 02, 2005 http://www.resourceshelf.com/2005/06/new-from-eevl-eevl-xtra.html

Author Details

Roddy MacLeod
EEVL Manager
Heriot Watt University

Email: R.A.MacLeod@hw.ac.uk
Web site: http://www.hw.ac.uk/libwww/libram/roddy.html

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