Discovery Systems as an Alternative to Stand-Alone Databases: The Example of Primo at BI Norwegian Business School



How to Cite

Dabin, E., & Preminger, M. (2018). Discovery Systems as an Alternative to Stand-Alone Databases: The Example of Primo at BI Norwegian Business School. Nordic Journal of Information Literacy in Higher Education, 10(1), 37-53.



Discovery systems (DS) harvest metadata from various sources into one central index. This data can be searched through thanks to an intuitive interface, which also redirects users to full-text resources in their native databases. This paper aims at evaluating whether the DS Primo can serve as an alternative to specialized databases subscribed to by BI Norwegian Business School.

Research design

Various article searches were run in Primo and four databases BI subscribes to. 1200 records were exported to EndNote. The rank order and the source of the records in Primo were kept track of. Some individual records were later checked for metadata.


Most times, the record describing an article in Primo was not harvested from the article’s native database. When the record source was this native database, subject field’s metadata was identical. Some articles appeared twice due to metadata inconsistencies across harvested resources. Almost all records included one of the subject headings searched for. Keywords were otherwise mostly found in the records’ title. Downsizing being used in various disciplines, unexpected records were retrieved.


Not all databases are indexed in Primo Central Index, but its size and coverage make Primo a smart choice as a one-stop search engine, if one uses the available narrowing options. It can to a certain extent function as an alternative to specialized databases for other tasks than systematic reviews, such as exploratory searches, or to get a sense of the available content.

Copyright (c) 2018 Emmanuelle Dabin, Michael Preminger

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