On 1 July, the SOSIG Team  launched the service's new Interface . This has been the first major overhaul of the SOSIG service since February 1996 and provides a number of ground-breaking new features and enhancements thanks to the introduction of a new version of ROADS  and the expertise of our development team.
The new look builds on the successes of the earlier interface, retaining and refining the button bar and providing much more online information about the service as well as extensive help. The long list of browsable subject headings has been restructured to provide more options for browsing including geographical parameters: users can now search and browse by subject AND by geographical regions. Search facilities have also been refined and extended and now include a Thesaurus derived from the HASSET  Thesaurus which was developed by The Data Archive .
SOSIG is now using ROADS version 1 for the first time. This is a key milestone for ROADS, meaning that in early July version 1 will become the recommended public release, superseding version 0.2.5. The added functionality of this latest version of ROADS is used to the full on the new search and browse interface, as well as behind the scenes for the creation of records and the description of resources. An alpha release of version 2 is expected shortly afterwards. This will allow true cross-searching across multiple gateways with indexing based on the concept of centroids. Nearly all the features requested in version 2 of ROADS have now been completed.
The number of high quality resources accessible through SOSIG is rising and now stands at around 1750. This figure should increase steadily with the introduction of our Section Editors  - a team of social science librarians from universities across the UK, each of whom will take responsibility for the identification, evaluation and cataloguing of resources under one or more SOSIG subject headings. This will not only increase our coverage but also allow the service to benefit from more focused subject expertise. In addition to the 1750 key resources, a completely new catalogue of social science departments has been created.
Here's a brief tour of the 'new look' SOSIG.
Figure 1: The new SOSIG Home Page
The links at the bottom of the page provide detailed information about SOSIG itself and our European Colleagues . The SOSIG Training  link provides details of our portfolio of workshops, current bookings and a complete set of downloadable workbook documents to allow users and support staff to run training workshops themselves.
One major change to the SOSIG catalogue is the creation of a separate departmental database . This database contains links to UK university social science departments - these pages may not be world class resources in themselves but will provide very useful contact and project information for users of the service. The database currently contains UK departments only. To catalogue every social science department in the world would be a massive task so we are relying on users to submit their details to us  for inclusion in the database.
Figure 2: Browse SOSIG Catalogue form
The sub-sections have been created by restructuring and reclassifying the resource descriptions held on the SOSIG catalogue - this will allow the catalogue to grow without creating the long subject listings which had begun to appear on the old interface.
The subject areas are also browsable by region. This is currently limited to World, European and UK resources and reflects the work with our European partners on the DESIRE  project. Individual European countries will become searchable once sufficient resources have been catalogued. Emma Worsfold wrote in detail about our work with European Correspondents in the last edition of Planet SOSIG .
Figure 3: SOSIG simple search form
Additional extended search options include the ability to search by region - again this feature will be extended when sufficient country-specific resources are added to the catalogue. A link is provided to the new Thesaurus from both the simple and extended search screens. If the search term results in no matches the user is taken directly into the Thesaurus to help find alternative and related search terms.
The display of search results has been redesigned using the configurable ROADS software. The number of results matching the search term is now displayed - our users had told us that this was an irritation on the previous interface as they either had to scroll through the resource descriptions or choose to display titles only to get an idea of the number of matches. Users can now connect to the resource from either the title or the URL at the bottom of the resource description.
Figure 4: Typical SOSIG search results
SOSIG will be working with the UK Data Archive, IBSS  , the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE  and Qualidata  to establish a social science Thesaurus based on HASSET. Keywords used by the contributing services which are not currently held in HASSET will be submitted as candidate terms which can then be included in updates of the Thesaurus, thereby increasing the value of the Thesaurus to all users of the various services and avoiding duplication of effort.
Figure 5: Typical SOSIG Thesaurus form
We expect most users will encounter the Thesaurus when their search term returns no matches. At this point the user will be sent directly to the Thesaurus where they can look up alternative terms. If the Thesaurus finds alternative terms they will be listed within related, broader and narrower sections. Clicking on the hyperlinked terms will take the user to the catalogue records containing those terms. The Thesaurus will also be very useful when a user gets too many hits with a search term as it will allow rapid focusing on narrower terms.
 DESIRE Project Web pages,