May 7, 2012 (ANN ARBOR, Mich.) — Knowledge powerhouse ProQuest is launching an inventive new research service that provides individuals with access to premium content and cutting edge tools. Instant and on-demand, Udini™ bundles an extraordinary range of information, including peer-reviewed and trade journal articles, dissertations, international newswires, newspapers, magazines and more from thousands of publishers in a comprehensive cloud-based workflow management tool designed for individual users. For knowledge workers without access to research libraries, Udini™ provides unprecedented ease for finding and using the highest quality information for professional projects. For publishers with already-strong academic distribution, Udini™ opens a trusted and compelling new channel to reach an under-served group of users who want and need their content.
“Research libraries play a critical role in our knowledge economy, but not everyone who needs serious content is connected to a scholarly library. Research for these unaffiliated users is confusing and inefficient unless they know exactly what they’re looking for. Premium information — when it’s accessible at all — is distributed behind many different paywalls all over the Web,” said Rich LaFauci, Senior Vice President and General Manager, ProQuest Research Solutions. “Udini™ curates and licenses high-quality content and makes it incredibly easy to discover, acquire and use. The entire service is crafted from the end-user’s perspective – from the content to the tools to the commerce model. It’s simple, easy and flexible.”
This is interesting news, and the implications for re-thinking the entire process of research are huge. The value of institutional access to high-priced (dare we say, exclusive) database vendors and document available on a aggregators available to individuals? That's insane!
It may also be wrong. Emma Moore, our new Technology Librarian put is this way:
Interesting news (even if the name does sound like a food/a word out of Star Wars.) Especially of note is the bundling of the content and the "cloud-based workflow system" (which I'd like to get a look at). They seem to have identified a possibly undeserved population; the kind of (presumably affluent) user who a) has used this kind of content in the past, but no longer has institutional access to said resources. Question is, will said population be big enough/identifiable enough to make Udini viable?
That would, of course, depend on whatever pricing model ProQuest chooses to utilize for the service, which the press realse does not mention at all, which leads me to wonder whether mere peons will be allowed access to the crown jewels. Even though, as the release states, Udini is meant to serve "growing ranks of independent researchers, from freelancers, to workers in organizations without their own libraries, to unaffiliated authors." Hey, guys, I'm an independent researcher and unaffiliated author. Where do I sign up?
Kate Adler, our reference Librarian noticed that this announcement "comes in the wake of a rush of press about online-education, but, because of pricing restrictions, is not exactly "open.""
Well, I signed up for an account . . . it's free for the cost of an e-mail address. Here's what I found.
You get an In Box, a workspace they refer to as Your Udini Library, and access to the Udini store, which is essentially a pay for service site. Some content is free, but most isn't and while they do allow you to save any article you come across on the web as content in your work area, the good stuff–academic journals, news publications, and professional magazines–is on a cash only basis. They start you off with the right to five free articles, but I didn't test what levels that extends to.
Additionally, there is a "flexible" access model in place, which I expect will be modified as time goes on. They are not apparently charging to create or store project on Udini's servers, but that's a long way from being able to scream, "Come and get it!" while ringing the dinner bell, as it were.
So, while I am hoping that this service takes off, I'm not exactly going to be first in line to pay scads of cash it. At least, not until I know more about what the user costs involve.