Reed Elsevier Slashes Time and Expense of Indexing

Innodata Halves Indexing Costs for Leading Electronic Medical Information Service ****


Reed Elsevier is a publisher and information provider active in the science, medical, legal, education and business fields. Its editors are kept busy filling 1,200 journals and more than 900 books a year with the latest news and information. The company also publishes more than 8,000 clinical reference works, texts and CDs, which present a vast body of technical data on medical breakthroughs and drug developments. Quick and easy access to this archive literally saves lives.

For medical doctors and lab scientists, staying abreast of every development covered in the publications is practically impossible. At the same time, awareness and understanding of the latest discoveries can be critical to their work, especially during medical emergencies. The development of an internet-based index of all of the publisher’s articles would be invaluable for the medical community.


In the early 1990s, the company set a goal of establishing a virtual library. After initially performing the work on its own, Reed Elsevier saw the cost of performing the work in-house continue to rise. The publisher realized that its best option was to outsource the indexing to an experienced content services provider.

Reed Elsevier began searching for a services provider that could successfully manage its complex outsourcing project. In addition to reviewing and digitizing 1,700 Reed Elsevier and third party publications, the provider would also be required to index and provide links to information in the articles. This would enable readers to sort texts and illustrations by key words, and to generate lists of abstracts and references based on the sorting. Researchers would have the ability to sort the information by topic, manufacturer, trade names or key words, enabling them to review the abstracts. Researchers who were interested after reviewing a specific abstract would be able to call-up entire journal articles containing in-depth biomedical and pharmacological information. Reed Elsevier chose Innodata, the leader in knowledge process outsourcing, to help them meet this formidable challenge.


Innodata deployed a team that worked closely with Reed Elsevier to establish which pieces of information would be indexed and linked. The content services team then began reviewing more than four million records, published in approximately 400,000 back-issues of scientific publications. Innodata's team converted the headers, abstracts and reference materials for these articles. It was decided by Reed Elsevier that these articles did not require indexing.

For the more recently published issues, the content specialists quickly began capturing key concepts in each article by first reading its title, abstract and conclusion. The entire article was then read carefully to confirm that the information was correct. The content specialists also noted secondary corresponding information that should be linked as they were indexing primary concepts. This information enables scientists to seek more detailed information about the primary research topic and pursue topics in related fields of study. Innodata also developed software so that specific terms would generate pop-up lists, which would then enable researchers to quickly obtain specific definitions.


Within the first year, Innodata helped Reed Elsevier slash its indexing costs by more than half, from $15 million to $7 million. The time required to review, index and post new information was also dramatically reduced from three weeks to seven days. The quality of the data was maintained, and even improved, in some areas.

Since its debut in 1999, ScienceDirect has become the leading electronic medical information service, offering more than five million scientists and researchers immediate access to approximately 167 million pages of cross-referenced journal articles. In addition, the “MD Consult” service for medical practitioners serves more than 280,000 users and is licensed by 1,700 health care organizations around the world, including 95 percent of U.S. medical schools.

Each month, subscribers conduct more than 1.8 million searches and view more than eight million pages of documents, primarily during daytime hours. Doctors and research scientists possess a world-class medical research library at their fingertips that can instantly provide information critical to saving lives. Reed Elsevier furthered its reputation as the leading source for science, technical and medical information by partnering with Innodata.



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