Sep 282015

We’ve just made the report from the latest SUNCAT survey available on our website. The survey was conducted by Jisc in early summer and the feedback we received has been invaluable in helping us to identify any areas which need improvement or development to keep the service relevant to our users’ current requirements.

The vast majority of respondents were Information Professionals from a range to institutions, including HE, FE, the NHS and national libraries.

User affiliation2








The two most popular reasons for using SUNCAT were related to:

  • Locating serials for library users
  • Checking serials’ bibliographic information











Respondents favourite features of the service were SUNCAT’s:

  • Speed and ease of use
  • Accuracy and currency of data provided
  • Aggregation of serials and holdings data
  • Comprehensive coverage
  • Holdings information and display

Over 70% of respondents reported that SUNCAT saved them time:

“I can go to quality records easily, trusting the information there, without wasting time browsing in places like COPAC etc”

 “Enables me to locate locations to apply to for ILLs without needing to check individual library catalogues or use Worldcat which is often unreliable”

 “There are a number of things I can see at a glance from the result page. When upgrading serial records, I can quickly move between several records in the SUNCAT display and the layout is easy to navigate.”

 “It is a more convenient union catalogue to use than copac for searching journals only, as it immediately shows all available holdings data for different institutions on each catalogue record. It also seems to run faster than both copac and Search25 much of the time”

  • 77% reported that the effectiveness of the SUNCAT search was either good or very good
  • 74% reported that with regard to ease of use SUNCAT was either good or very good
  • 74% indicated that their overall satisfaction with the service was either good or very good

Respondents were also asked how likely they would be to recommend SUNCAT and why

“In terms of locating UK serials information it’s unrivalled. Copac is not as comprehensive, Worldcat a lot more unwieldy.”

 “Very useful for checking journals holdings for lots of libraries at once – ideal for sourcing locating for ILLs”

 “As it is based on British libraries’ holdings it often records more obscure and rarer European periodicals, especially in foreign languages, than perhaps WorldCat. It is invaluable as a source of bibliographic information on serials as well as a record of quite detailed library holdings.”

 “It is so useful to have all serials in one catalogue to locate which library has what you want. Also saves a lot of time.”

 “Very clear interface. Comprehensive coverage.”

Finally users were asked for suggestions for improvements to the service. These included:

  • Better deduplication of records for the same title
  • Improved exact title search
  • Improving the visibility of the advanced search and browse options
  • Enabling viewing of older as well as current tables of contents
  • Providing a reset search button to clear previous search terms

The complete list or suggestions and our response to them can be found in the full report. We will be reviewing and evaluating each suggestion to enable us to prioritise our development plans over the next year.

Overall the results of the survey are very positive for SUNCAT. Respondents continue to have a high level of satisfaction with the service, finding it fast and easy to use. The redeveloped search platform has now had the opportunity to become embedded and appears to have been well received. However, the results also highlight a number of areas where improvements could be made. EDINA is aware of and has development plans around some of these and will investigate others as potential future developments.



 September 28, 2015  Posted by at 3:52 pm News, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Aug 112014

We’ve just published the report from the survey we conducted on the new look SUNCAT. The survey ran from the end of May to the end of June 2014.

The results of the survey were largely very positive but it did highlight a few areas where we can focus on making improvements.

The vast majority of respondents, 88%, found SUNCAT “Quite Easy” or “Very Easy” to use. Five percent reported that they found SUNCAT “Very Difficult” to use and on further investigation this was revealed to be due to a compatibility problem with older versions of Internet Explorer. However, as soon as we noticed these responses we investigated and we believe that these issues are now resolved, see the blog post: Problems using the new service on the IE8 browser

Further, 91% of respondents indicated that they found the new service better than the original one.

The most popular features on the new SUNCAT with the highest proportion of respondents reporting that they were either “Very useful” or “Quite useful” were:

  • Links to library’s local catalogues in the holdings display (91%)
  • Icons differentiating print and online holdings in the holdings display (90%)
  • Electronic only/non-electronic only format limit on the advanced search page (86%)
  • More search options on the advanced search page (86%)
  • Library information pages (linked to from library name in the holdings display) (82%)
Feature Popularity (Percentage of Respondents Reporting the Feature as Useful or Very Useful)
Links to library’s local catalogues in the holdings display 91
Icons differentiating print and online holdings in the holdings display 90
Electronic only/non-electronic only format limit on the advanced search page 86
More search options on the advanced search page 86
Library information pages (linked to from library name in the holdings display) 82
Results automatically ranked by relevance 77
Post-search filters on left-hand side of the results screen 75
More flexible and granular library and location limits on the basic search page 68
Option to choose how many results to view per page 67
Expanded table of contents (available on more titles) 63
Auto-suggestions on entering search terms 54
Map of all Contributing library locations on the basic search page 26
Newsfeed from the SUNCAT Blog on the basic search page 17


Respondents were also asked to comment on their favourite features. The most popular features were the format limiting, format filtering and format icons.

“I really like being able to tell at a glance whether a library has print or online holdings for a particular journal.”

“… is especially useful as it alerts to licensing issues etc. and therefore prevents requests that will fail and saves time in getting information to the library user.”

Second to these were the additional library information pages and the links to local catalogues:

“The improved links through to library information and the links to the local library catalogue is a big improvement.”

“The new library information pages are very helpful as I work in Interlibrary loans and this feature gives me important information very quickly without having to try and locate it on the library’s own website or in the BL’s directory of library codes.”

Followed by the clear design, ease of use and general usefulness of the new service:

“Cleaner, easier to read and navigate”

“much nicer interface – much more obvious in terms of how to use it”

We also used the survey to find out what improvements our users would like to see in SUNCAT so that we can use this information to plan and prioritise our future developments. The following table summarises the suggestions and EDINA’s responses.

Suggested Improvement EDINA Response
Ensure the new service is compatible with older browsers We have investigated this and believe that the necessary changes have now been implemented
Add more libraries We will continue to expand the coverage of the service and are currently in the process of adding new libraries
Improve deduplication We are gathering information about suggested matches on the service and will use this information to inform the development of an improved matching algorithm which should improve deduplication in the long term.
Improve holdings information Unfortunately, we have no control over this as we rely on the holdings information supplied to us by our Contributing Libraries
A bulk upload facility of ISSNs to enable scarcity checks We are in the process of developing a holdings comparison service which should assist with scarcity checking
UKRR libraries limit We are in the process of developing tailored or customised views onto SUNCAT, one of which could be for the UKRR.
Improve relevance ranking We will investigate possible improvements in this area.
Reinstate subject heading browsing This will be made available in an upcoming release
Provide better options for printing holdings dataPrinting results. It would be helpful if you could print a short summary with selected location details without the need to print irrelevant web-page data too. We will investigate possible improvements in this area.
Provide information about policies on ILL provision and licensing agreements We will investigate the possibility of pulling this information from sources such as KB+, while bearing in mind that recent changes to UK Copyright Law might make licensing information less relevant for ILL purposes.
Move the British Library code to appear beside the library name This information is displayed on the Library Information page which can be accessed by clicking on the Library name in the holdings display. We feel that adding this information directly to the holdings display could complicate and confuse the display for general users, but we will keep this request under consideration.
Split up electronic and print holdings or show more clearly We are working to improve how the format filtering works and will consider adding the format limit to the basic search page.


The results of the survey are very positive for the new SUNCAT service and indicate it now provides an overall improved platform from which to continue to develop the service further.

Unfortunately there were some initial problems with compatibility with older browsers, which the survey very usefully highlighted. Otherwise the responses to the new features are encouraging, with the vast majority of respondents finding the new service easy to use and an improvement on the original service.

Key features appear as those related to identifying, distinguishing between, limiting to or filtering out particular journal formats. This reflects a high number of users wanting to focus on non-electronic formats due to licence restrictions on providing copies from electronic formats. However, the additional information provided on the library pages and the links to local catalogues also proved popular.

We will give further consideration to each of the suggested improvements and where possible investigate developing these as part of future releases. In some cases the developments are already in the pipeline and the survey provides an additional confirmation of their potential usefulness.

SUNCAT is the Serials Union Catalogue for the UK. Visit the service at
 August 11, 2014  Posted by at 3:03 pm Developments, News Tagged with: , , , ,  No Responses »
Jun 072013

We made a preview version of the new service available at UKSG in early April and just closed this off a few weeks ago. During this period we put up an online survey and encouraged emails to the EDINA helpdesk to ask our users for their views on the functionality and ease of use of the redeveloped service. A full report is now available on our website.

Overall, the response was very positive and any significant issues which were raised, EDINA were already aware of and are currently busy trying to resolve for the next release, due this autumn. Over 70% of the respondents reported that the preview service was better than the current service and we hope to improve this figure further as we iron out the glitches.

“Very bold design, clear and simple. A great improvement. Will encourage use of the service.”


We are happy that the vast majority of respondents found that the basic search facility was easy to use, 89%, and that the newly introduced post-search filters were found to be useful to 83% of respondents. Respondents reported that both the pre and post search filters would be good tools for reducing large result sets and filtering out holdings which might not be of interest, e.g. electronic or print holdings.

“Having the basic phrases in the first drop down box allows an easy search but also one that can still be refined without having to go to advanced search. Limiting locations and institutions is useful, especially for us as a public library as we know a number of locations will not lend so we can limit to those that do.”

Some respondents reported issues related to the display of the results list and the advanced search and work is on-going to resolve these. We were already aware that the Exact Title search was a little too exact – requiring exact matching on punctuation and letter case! Further, the relevancy ranking was not always working as expected, so these are another two areas we are currently concentrating on getting optimised.

The feedback received has been extremely useful in confirming areas we had concerns about and so helping us to prioritise immediate fixes for the next release, while also highlighting other interesting suggestions we can investigate for future releases.

 June 7, 2013  Posted by at 9:41 am Developments Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »