ProQuest has partnered with the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) to add its Virtual Modernization tool to research staples Early English Books Online (EEBO) and Literature Online®. The technology allows users to search databases using modern English spellings and automatically retrieve instances of early modern spelling variants. ProQuest is the first commercial information provider to employ Virtual Modernization in its products.
"ProQuest took an early interest in this project because we recognized it as a landmark advance in research that relies on early English texts," said Mary Sauer-Games, vice president, Chadwyck-Healey publishing. "With digital access to older texts expanding rapidly, technologies such as this are essential to support serious research."
Virtual Modernization addresses the critical stumbling block of inconsistent spellings common to early English texts -- a problem that causes users to miss material relevant to their research. Simple to use, the technology employs a "variant spellings" box -- checked by default -- that appears on the Basic Search, Advanced Search and Periodicals Search screens of EEBO and Literature Online. When users conduct a keyword search, they automatically retrieve all instances of the search term and its early variant forms. For example, a search on the word murder will retrieve not only murder, but also the variants murther, murdre, murdir and mvrder. Another option will also be available: A "check for variant spellings" that allows browsing and manual selection of the particular variant forms of the search term and terms that can build a more targeted search.
Virtual Modernization was developed by a programming team in the Academic Technologies department of Northwestern University building on research conducted by Professor Martin Mueller. The two-year development phase was sponsored by the Center for Library Initiatives of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, or CIC, a consortium of 12 Midwest research universities, with additional funding support from ProQuest. The project is continuing, improving the tool to include "Lemmatization." Lemmatization will allow users to bundle different forms of a word under the form in which the word is likely to appear in a dictionary. Thus a search on love would retrieve all variant spellings of love, loves, loveth, loving, and loved. ProQuest will release its Lemmatization tool in EEBO in 2008. Like Virtual Modernization, it will be standard feature and added at no charge.
Virtual Modernization will be available in EEBO and Literature Online by January 2008. For more information, visit www.proquest.com.
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