Document Recommendations and Feedback
Collection Analysis within the Slovenian
Mladen Boroviˇc * , Marko Ferme, Janez Brezovnik, Sandi Majninger, Klemen Kac and
Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Maribor, 2000 Maribor, Slovenia;
email@example.com (M.F.); firstname.lastname@example.org (J.B.); email@example.com (S.M.);
firstname.lastname@example.org (K.K.); email@example.com (M.O.)
*Correspondence: firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel.: +386-2-220-74-60
Received: 24 September 2020; Accepted: 21 October 2020; Published: 23 October 2020
This paper presents a hybrid document recommender system intended for use in digital
libraries and institutional repositories that are part of the Slovenian Open Access Infrastructure.
The recommender system provides recommendations of similar documents across different
digital libraries and institutional repositories with the aim to connect researchers and improve
collaboration efforts. The hybrid recommender system makes use of document processing
techniques, document metadata, and the similarity ranking function BM25 to provide content-based
recommendations as a primary method. It also uses collaborative-ﬁltering methods as a secondary
method in a cascade hybrid recommendation technique. We also provide a real-world data feedback
collection analysis for our hybrid recommender system on an academic digital repository in order to
be able to identify suitable time-frames for direct feedback collection during the year.
hybrid recommender systems; feedback collection; digital libraries; information retrieval;
real-world data; open-access
Recommender systems are a part of everyday experience on the web, especially while using
online stores and search engines. The main objective of these systems is to provide the user with
relevant and interesting content. In digital repositories, the obvious task for a recommender system is
to provide recommendations to relevant documents. Digital repositories are usually used by students,
researchers, and other interested parties, with an objective to research a certain topic and broaden
their knowledge in that domain. A recommender system can be very helpful in achieving that, since it
helps discover relevant documents, while the user does not need to browse and review a large amount
Recommender systems in academic digital repositories are becoming prominent as the number of
produced academic documents in electronic format grows. There are many types of documents present
in academic digital repositories, including, but not limited to, undergraduate theses, postgraduate
theses (master’s theses and doctoral theses), journal articles, conference articles, workbooks, study
books, manuals, collections of problems, course slides, and other teaching and research materials.
In Slovenia, universities, colleges, other higher education institutions, and research institutions have
joined efforts to form the Slovenian Open-Access Infrastructure where documents from all partners
would be publicly available. Naturally, this also provides a framework for recommender systems as it
is possible to recommend documents between different institutions. Another positive side effect of this
Information 2020,11, 497; doi:10.3390/info11110497 www.mdpi.com/journal/information
Information 2020,11, 497 2 of 14
is that researchers from different institutions that are in the same ﬁeld of expertise can see the work of
their colleagues more transparently, encouraging cooperation between them. With this goal in mind,
a recommender system for the Slovenian Open-Access Infrastructure was designed as a part of the
infrastructure to support the goals of the nationwide project. The novelty of this recommender system
is that it is currently the only recommender system in Slovenia that includes all Slovenian universities
and their electronic publications. In practice, over 200,000 electronic publications originating from any
of the Slovenian universities can be recommended using our system.
This paper presents a cascade type hybrid recommender system which is implemented in the
Slovenian Open-Access Infrastructure with the aim to serve relevant document recommendations
across all digital libraries and institutional repositories which are currently included in the
infrastructure. The second section brieﬂy reviews related work. The third section presents the
current state of the Slovenian Open Access Infrastructure. The inner workings and the architecture of
our recommender system are presented in the fourth section. In the ﬁfth section, we give details on
the feedback collection analysis for our implemented hybrid recommender system using the digital
repositories established within the Slovenian Open Access Infrastructure. The sixth section contains
conclusions and ideas for further work.
2. Related Work
Document recommender systems can be applied in many practical scenarios. Speciﬁcally, for the
scenario of document recommendations where the documents are news, Reference [
the use of recommendations for job postings, in Reference [
], cloud computing was used for
recommendations and Reference [
] demonstrates a semantic web approach to recommending news.
Many document recommender systems have been extensively covered by the research ﬁeld especially
for use with news. References [
] provide a survey of news recommendation systems. In [
fuzzy logic is used to recommend news using content-based methods. Rich feedback is used to
recommend news to users in [
], while Reference [
] compares information retrieval algorithms in
news recommendation scenarios. In some cases, semantic approaches such as Wordnet are used to aid
in semantic recommendations [9,10].
Research paper recommender systems are also prominent when it comes to document
]. A tag-based research paper recommender system framework is presented
], and a similar tag-based approach was used in [
]. A collaborative ﬁltering approach using
contexts was used to recommend research papers in [
]. An extensive comparison of ofﬂine
and online evaluation approaches of research paper recommender systems is presented in [
Speciﬁcally for digital repositories, several recommender systems have been developed. In [
keyphrases were used as a basis for research paper recommendations and, in [
], a social bookmarking
service CiteULike was used for recommendations. A recommender system speciﬁcally tailored for
advising research publications as a part of digital libraries in a university environment was presented
]. Another study [
] introduces a Recommendation-as-a-Service (RaaS) platform used for
recommendations in academia and its integration into the reference manager JabRef [
CORE Recommender [
] was developed speciﬁcally for use in digital libraries and repositories.
As shown in [
], such recommender systems have also been implemented in academic social networks,
When faced with researching, implementing, and maintaining recommender systems, challenges
do occur. Some major challenges were outlined in [
]. These include data quality, the lack
of appropriate data sets, choice of appropriate recommendation techniques, evaluation of
recommendations, and even the number of recommended items. In addition to these challenges,
we also encountered challenges while processing documents in the Slovenian language. Being a
morphologically rich language, it is required to take different approaches to natural language
processing when processing documents in Slovenian. Very little research has been done in
recommending documents in the Slovenian language, mostly because there was very few structured
Information 2020,11, 497 3 of 14
datasets of documents in Slovenian. With the introduction of the Slovenian Open Access
], this has improved greatly due to the creation of a large structured dataset,
containing over 200,000 documents [
]. It features segmented metadata consisting of titles, abstracts,
keywords as well as full-texts and other document metadata. From it, other datasets of the Slovenian
language have formed [
], which allows for further research options not only in the research of
recommender systems, but also other tasks in information retrieval and natural language processing,
speciﬁc to the Slovenian language.
3. Overview of the Slovenian Open Access Infrastructure
The Slovenian Open Access Infrastructure was established in 2013 and has since enabled the
interested parties in Slovenia (researchers, students, companies, and the public) access to the intellectual
production of Slovenian educational and research organizations. Simultaneously, it has enabled the
researchers to fulﬁll the requirements for open access to publications from publicly ﬁnanced research.
Structurally (Figure 1), the infrastructure consists of a national portal OpenScience.si [
repositories for each of the four Slovenian universities (Digital Library of University of Maribor
], Repository of University of Ljuljana (RUL) [
], Repository of University of Primorska
], Repository of University of Nova Gorica (RUNG) [
]), a repository for research institutions
(Digital Repository of Slovenian Research Organizations (DiRROS) [
]), and a repository for colleges
and higher education institutions (ReVIS) ).
- Federated search
- Similar content detection
- Recommender system
National open access
(Open Science Slovenia)
Digital Library of
University of Maribor
Repository of University of
Repository of University of
Digital Repository of
Repository of Colleges and
Higher Education Institutions
Other digital archives
Repository of University of
Figure 1. Structure of the Slovenian Open-Access Infrastructure.
The infrastructure also aggregates metadata from other digital archives such as
], Social Science Data Archives [
], Digital Library of Slovenia [
], NUK Web
], and the Ministry of Defense Library and Information System [
]. The types of
publications that are stored in the infrastructure include diploma, master’s and doctoral theses,
journal and conference articles, proceedings, datasets, scientiﬁc and technical reports, books, lecture
materials, and videos of lectures. Since a great majority of publications are in Slovenian, a side product
of this infrastructure was a large-scale corpus of full-text documents in the Slovenian language,
covering several different domains of research. It also spawned some research datasets for use in
linguistic studies [
]. More importantly, it currently represents the largest corpus of segmented
texts in the Slovenian language, giving several options for research not only in linguistics but also
in natural language processing. Due to interests for cooperation between the four universities and
several research institutions in Slovenia, a recommender system was integrated in the infrastructure.
The aim was to notify users about similar studies being done at different institutions through digital
libraries and institutional repositories.
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4. Document Recommendations
There are a few different approaches to recommendation in existence. The most common
approaches are content-based and collaborative ﬁltering [
]. Other approaches include
demographic, utility-based, and knowledge-based techniques to recommendation. There is no optimal
approach for every situation. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages in certain scenarios.
While content-based ﬁltering works well when a good description of an object is provided and
when starting out with recommendations, collaborative ﬁltering tends to provide more contextually
appropriate recommendations once enough user feedback is provided. Hybrid systems aim to resolve
the disadvantages of both approaches by combining them in different ways [
]. Several hybridization
methods exist [
]. Weighted hybrids compute a score for a recommended item using outputs of all
recommendation approaches available in the system. Switching hybrids employ a mechanism to switch
between recommendation approaches. In this type of hybrid, approaches in the system are usually
given priorities. If an approach with a higher priority cannot give a sufﬁcient score, the recommender
system switches to an approach with a lower priority as an attempt to provide a more recommendation
with a more sufﬁcient score. Mixed hybrids provide recommendations from different approaches at
the same time. In cascade hybrids, one approach is used ﬁrst to produce an initial set of recommended
items; then, a second approach is used to ﬁne-pick the most suitable items from that initial set, in order
to provide a ﬁnal recommendation.
Our recommender system is a cascade hybrid, incorporating content-based ﬁltering as a primary
recommendation technique and collaborative ﬁltering as a secondary re-ranking method. It consists
of three fundamental modules (Figure 2). The user activity log module provides the information
on user activities such as view count, download count, document ratings, and document referrals.
The document processing module ensures a uniﬁed feature representation of all documents in a triplet
representation consisting of a title, keywords, and an abstract. Simultaneously, this module performs
the calculation of BM25 values for each document pair, which forms a document index. The latter is
a similarity matrix for all documents. Documents are periodically processed as new documents are
added to the system daily. This way, the index is kept updated and the recommendations include
User activity log module
Document ranking module
<Title, Keywords, Abstract>
Document similarity index
Figure 2. The architecture of our hybrid recommender system.
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The user activity data and the calculated similarities between the documents are the input to
the document ranking module, where similar documents are chosen depending on the document
that is viewed by the user. This is also the hybridization point, where content-based ﬁltering and
collaborative ﬁltering methods are applied in cascade to output the ﬁnal list of recommendations,
which is served to the end-user.
4.1. Processing Documents in Slovenian
A variety of different metadata were obtained from previous established repositories.
These included information about authors, titles, keywords, abstracts, publishing year, and other
bibliographic information. The metadata standards were different and included COMARC, MARC 21,
and Dublin Core Metadata. We merged the different metadata schemes in our own metadata scheme to
enable collection of as much metadata as possible. Our own metadata scheme consists of all metadata
ﬁelds from the established standards with some extra ﬁelds for internal use. We use our metadata
scheme to represent documents and use it with the recommender system as well as some other services
within the Slovenian Open-Access Infrastructure.
For the recommender system, the documents are represented by titles, keywords, and abstracts.
Most documents are in the Slovenian language; however, there are also documents in English, German,
Italian, Croatian, and Hungarian. The documents that are not written in Slovenian have at least the
abstract and keywords translated to Slovenian to conform with the publication and cataloguing rules.
In the case of these documents, the available metadata in Slovenian are used with higher priority
than the metadata in other languages. First, the most common words in the Slovenian language
are removed from the text, since they do not contribute to semantic information. These are mainly
conjunctions, prepositions, particles, and interjections; however, common verbs and nouns are also
included. The common word list was built using word counts in documents. This is a periodic task,
which is run each time after a recommendation index is updated. Additionally, we used lemmatization
to help when dealing with conjugations and declensions in the text. Lemmatization is the process
of determining the basic lexical form (i.e., lemma) to the words in a text. A very similar process
to lemmatization is stemming. The main difference between lemmatization and stemming is that
stemming does not convert the word into its dictionary form but simply cuts off the ending of the
word. In text mining, lemmatization can be used to detect contexts of texts. It is used in our text
processing step to group semantically similar words and to avoid the difﬁcult process of grouping with
declension and conjugation rules. Furthermore,
1, 2, 3, 4, 5
are generated and used
based ranking function BM25 to perform content-based ﬁltering within our hybrid
approach to recommendation.
4.2. Document Ranking
For document ranking, we used the BM25 ranking function [
] along with additional weights,
which were obtained from document metadata and user activities. BM25 is a ranking function,
which enables the ranking of documents by the similarity of terms that are contained within those
documents. It is a family of functions, which differs by weighting schemes and parameter values.
weights are used [
]. The term frequency (
) is the occurrence count of a term
within a document
while the inverse document frequency (
) is the importance of the term
given document collection
). Composite nonlinear
normalizations and the family of
BM25 ranking functions have been used extensively in search engines to rank documents:
id f (t) = log ||D|| − n(t) + 0.5
n(t) + 0.5 (1)
id f (qi)·t f (qi,d)·(k1+1)
t f (qi,d) + k1·B,qi∈Q,d∈D(2)
Information 2020,11, 497 6 of 14
It is a state-of-the-art
based ranking function and has spawned many variants including
BM25L, BM25+, BM25-adpt and BM25T [
], which bring improvements on very speciﬁc datasets.
It has also been implemented in open source and commercial solutions such as Apache Lucene,
Apache Solr, and Xapian as well as in Microsoft SQL Server and MySQL database implementations
as a default full-text search solution. We decided to implement BM25 ourselves on a Microsoft SQL
Server platform to have research options while studying parameters of the original ranking function
and its variants, since commercial solutions do not allow enough customization. Another reason for
this is that our documents are in the Slovenian language, for which only limited support exists in these
open source and commercial solutions.
is the length of the collection
is the number of documents which
contain the term
. The BM25 value
depends on the weights
as well as parameters
. A general BM25 calculation for a document
and a query
is given with
is the size of the query
given with the number of terms and
normalization factor (Equation
). In Equation
is the length of document
average length of the document in the corpus D.
regulates the importance of the
weight and the parameter
importance of document length. The values for these two parameters can be set using advanced
optimization approaches, but usually values
0.75 are used [
we use empirically determined ﬁxed values
0.75, but further study of the corpus
properties and parameter effects is underway. An automated adaptive technique of choosing the
parameters using an optimization method such as in [
] is desired. Additionally, we are also working
on including alternative weighting schemes such as t f *pd f  and t f -iduf.
4.3. Hybrid Approach to Recommendation
The input to our content-based ﬁltering approach is a collection of metadata which describes
the documents. A document feature is represented with a vector of terms obtained from titles,
keywords, and abstracts. As we also have full-texts available, we empirically found that it is better
to use semantically dense metadata rather than full-text due to two important disadvantages. Firstly,
full-texts contain more terms which slows down the process of ranking similar documents. Secondly,
semantically important contexts diminish even after applying pre-processing with stop-word lists
ﬁltering. However, when compared to a simpler document feature assembled from titles,
keywords and abstracts do not signiﬁcantly improve recommendation results. We further enrich the
document feature with metadata including document typology [
], issue year, authors, repository ID,
and document language.
With all the metadata considered, we calculate a BM25 score based on the enriched document
features. We also use the Jaro–Winkler distance [
], in order to deﬁne a document typology
similarity. The Jaro–Winkler similarity is suitable when dealing with short strings and when the
similarity between them should be greater if the two strings match from the beginning. First, the Jaro
similarity is calculated by including the number of matching characters m and half the number of
transpositions t between strings
and their respective lengths
the Jaro–Winkler similarity is calculated by including the common preﬁx length
and a scaling factor
0.1 to adjust the value depending on the common preﬁx length (Equation
). In our situation,
the document typologies are denoted with a short string of up to ﬁve characters (e.g.,
5). The ﬁrst
character of the typology deﬁnes the kind of document and the following characters deﬁne the variant
of the document. Some examples of document types are provided in Table 1.
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Examples of document typologies and their metadata notation. Full typology is available
Document Typology (Notation) Document Typology (Meaning)
1.01 Original scientiﬁc article
1.02 Review article
1.03 Short scientiﬁc article
1.04 Professional article
2.08 Doctoral dissertation
2.09 Master’s thesis
2.11 Undergraduate thesis
2.23 Patent application
2.25 Other monographs and completed works
Using the Jaro-Winkler distance (Equation
), we compare the typologies of two documents in
order to rank the documents with the similar typology higher. The ﬁnal content-based ﬁltering score
) is calculated as a product between the BM25 score on the document feature vector and
the Jaro–Winkler similarity on the document typology:
0 if m=0
simjw(s1,s2) = simj(s1,s2) + λp(1−simj(s1,s2)) (5)
djw(s1,s2) = 1−simjw(s1,s2)(6)
ScoreCBF =B M25(dA,dB)·djw (tdA,tdB)(7)
Our collaborative ﬁltering approach is collaborative in the sense that we use user interactions to
re-rank the content-based ﬁltering recommendations with the goal of improving recommendations.
The input to our collaborative ﬁltering approach is the user activity data regarding a document
Views and download counts for documents are kept and regularly updated. The values for actions were
set to 1 if a view occurs and 10 if a download occurs, meaning that a download action is as signiﬁcant
as 10 view actions (Equation
). A feedback value
is calculated by summing all values of actions.
Furthermore, we also store a similar feedback value for actions
on recommended documents
give higher weight to the documents which were interesting to end-users (Equation
). The values for
boosts were set to 5 if a view on a recommended document occurs and 50 if a recommended document
is downloaded. Action signiﬁcance values for
were set empirically, with an idea in mind
that a download is worth 10 times as signiﬁcant as a view, and a recommended view is ﬁve times as
signiﬁcant as a regular view.
ad,iad,i=(1 document view
10 document download (8)
rd,ird,i=(5 document view
50 document download (9)
Information 2020,11, 497 8 of 14
We can provide adaptive recommendations using actions from users by combining feedback
values for actions and recommendations with the download rate
), which is the
ratio between downloads and views of a document. The logic is the same for the download rate of
the recommended documents
, but only views and downloads on the recommended document
are considered. The feedback value for actions on recommended documents makes the clicked
recommendations rank higher in the recommendation list. The ﬁnal collaborative ﬁltering score
) is calculated as a product of the document download rate and the sum of action
feedback values on the document and actions on recommendations:
With both approaches combined into a hybrid approach, we use recommendation strategies,
which can be customized depending on the type or purpose of recommendations. Some
recommendation strategies that we used in production are »latest + relevant«, »same repository
+ relevant« and »more from same authors«. These strategies can also be merged into a single strategy
using priority factors. For example, a strategy »latest from same repository and from same authors«
would ﬁrst pick the latest documents and would then ﬁlter them according to their repository primarily
and according to their authors secondarily.:
The workﬂow of our hybrid recommender system consists of four steps (Figure 3). First, the results
from our content-based approach are obtained. Second, an exponential temporal decay mechanic
) is implemented to increase the ranks of recently published documents. The parameter
controls the exponential temporal decay. The similarity score of the document is multiplied by the
temporal decay and the recommendations in the results are re-ranked. Documents contained in the
result set are then input into our collaborative ﬁltering approach which re-ranks the results again.
Currently, the output result length of our content-based approach is 25 documents. Finally, the list of
recommendations is shortened to N documents for better presentation of the result on the web. In
practice, we shorten the list to ﬁve documents.
Figure 3. The workﬂow of our hybrid cascade approach to recommendations.
5. Feedback Collection Analysis
Collecting feedback from users is an important part of recommender systems design because
it can directly inﬂuence the resulting recommendations. The overall user experience with regard to
recommendations can be greatly improved if feedback is regularly collected from users. This can
be done directly using surveys, questionnaires, and quick questions or indirectly by analyzing user
activity. To achieve sufﬁcient feedback, an appropriate time for feedback collection must be determined.
The quality of feedback depends on the mood of the user, but, with careful planning, there is more
Information 2020,11, 497 9 of 14
chance that the user will be willing to give good quality feedback. Another perspective is to collect
feedback at a certain time, where we are sure that users might be more inclined to express their
opinions (e.g., a week after something changed) as they have had enough time to form an opinion.
Furthermore, a good feedback collection approach can lead to an organized approach to evaluation of
recommender systems. With it, evaluation metrics can be better deﬁned and used to measure the true
performance of the recommender system.
We performed an analysis of time-frames during the year, when feedback collection would make
sense within the Slovenian Open-Access Infrastructure. In our case, the recommendations are focused
on documents and are meant to help students, academic staff, and researchers ﬁnd more similar
documents to their interest. The recommendations are therefore accessed as the users are using the
recommender system, which is linked to different time-frames during the year. We found that several
spikes in usage occur during the year and we tried to link them to speciﬁc events that occur in the
academic year (e.g., thesis defenses, summer vacations, etc.).
We limited our data to data from four universities in Slovenia and their institutional repositories in
the Slovenian Open-Access Infrastructure. University of Maribor was included with DLUM, University
of Ljubljana with RUL, University of Primorska with RUP and University of Nova Gorica with RUNG.
All institutional repositories store view and download counts for documents. During this analysis,
we treated viewed documents as mildly interesting and downloaded documents as very interesting.
We did this because a download can occur only after the document is viewed; therefore, if a user
downloaded the document, they must have viewed its detailed description with metadata and made a
conscious decision that it is interesting enough for them to download it.
We encountered a major limitation with the accessibility of the trafﬁc data on each institutional
repository. DLUM was the only repository that we were able to get the data from, since other
repositories opted not to be included in the analysis by their maintenance teams. Furthermore,
the maintenance teams of DLUM, RUL, RUP, and RUNG decided to exclude all trafﬁc tracking options
on repositories after 2016. As for DLUM data that we were able to obtain, it was Google Analytics
trafﬁc data between January 2013 and December 2016. With all limitations considered, we performed
an analysis using data only from DLUM (Figure 4). It proved to be a suitable institutional repository
for this task, since it is the ﬁrst university institutional repository in Slovenia, running since 2008 and
serving as a basis for all other institutional repositories in the national open-access infrastructure.
Figure 4. Weekly user visits to DLUM between January 2013 and December 2016.
In the data set time-frame of user activity between January 2013 and December 2016 (Figure 4),
special events have occurred. In November 2014, DLUM saw a major update and was ofﬂine for two
Information 2020,11, 497 10 of 14
weeks (weeks 48 to 50) due to this. It was updated at this time because it had to run stable for most
of the year, due to a regular inﬂux of new theses. This inﬂux annually reaches a peak in September
and October (weeks 40 to 42), when the theses are catalogued by the librarians. It was decided to run
DLUM without interruption between March and November 2014 because most users during that time
are students researching for their theses and researchers searching for related work for their articles.
An increase in weekly user visits can be observed in 2015. This increase seems to be attributed
to the marketing efforts of the Slovenian Open-Access Infrastructure and the cross-repository
recommendations; however, this cannot be conﬁrmed due to the lack of trafﬁc tracking capabilities on
repositories RUL, RUP, and RUNG.
Furthermore, in 2016, we can observe another increase in weekly user visits, which lasts from
January (week 1) to September (week 40). This unusual additional trafﬁc was generated by students
enrolled in pre-Bologna process study programs at the University of Maribor. These students had
to complete and defend their theses by October 2016 as directed by the University of Maribor and
were most likely collecting research on DLUM in order to achieve this. This reason holds, as the trafﬁc
increase stops in September 2016 (week 40).
By observing trafﬁc ﬂuctuation during the year, we found a decrease in weeks that correspond to
holidays. This occurs in several time-frames which are visible in Figure 4and denoted with letters:
• A—January; the ﬁrst week of the year (consequence of New Year),
• B—February; weeks 7 and 8, around February 8th (national holiday “Prešeren Day”),
C—April and May; week 18 and 19, starting around April 27th (national holiday “Day of uprising
against occupation”) and ending around May 1st (national holiday “International Workers’ Day”),
• D—June, July and August; weeks 26 to 36, summer holiday season,
E—October, November; weeks 44 and 45, around October 31st (national holiday “Reformation
Day”) and November 1st (national holiday “All Saint’s Day”),
F—December; weeks 50 to 53, around December 25th (national holiday “Christmas”),
26th (national holiday “Independence and Unity Day”) and December 31st (national holiday
“New Year’s Eve”).
We conclude that these time-frames are suitable for maintenance work on institutional repositories.
Time-frames B, C, and E show the potential for smaller updates and minor changes, while time-frame
D shows the potential for large-scale maintenance.
We also observed the peak trafﬁc occurring between some before mentioned time-frames:
• X—weeks 9 and 17 (from February to April),
• Y—weeks 20 to 25 (from May to June),
• Z—weeks 37 to 43 (from August to October).
We conclude that these time-frames are suitable for feedback collection campaigns, surveys,
and questionnaires. Namely, time-frames X and Y are more suitable for active user feedback
collection (e.g., validation of recommended documents), since users are actively researching during
that time. Time-frame Z is more suitable for general feedback collection (e.g., general surveys regarding
An extensive evaluation study of our recommender system is currently still underway as
it requires successful collaboration of several institutions that maintain their own repositories.
Several metrics for recommendation system evaluation exist. In general, there are two ways of
evaluating any recommendation system: online and ofﬂine [
]. Ofﬂine evaluation makes use of
preferably labelled data which is split into training and test sets. The recommendation system uses the
training set ratings to try and predict the ratings in the test set. Actual users are not needed in this type
of evaluation. This makes ofﬂine evaluation fast and easy to perform on a large amount of data. It can
also be performed using many different datasets and with multiple different algorithms. The main
disadvantage of this approach is that it cannot measure true user satisfaction.
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In an online evaluation scenario, users interact with a running recommendation system and
respond to it naturally, while feedback is being collected from them. Feedback is obtained by either
asking the users directly or observing their actions. This approach measures true user satisfaction but
can take a long time to set-up and run from beginning to end.
The choice of metrics differs depending on the approach of recommendation. Information retrieval
metrics such as accuracy, recall, precision, and F-measure are usually considered preferable when
evaluating content-based recommendation systems. Other metrics for this type of recommendation
system include normalized discounted cumulative gain [
], rank-biased precision [
], and expected
reciprocal rank [
]. Collaborative ﬁltering recommendations are usually evaluated using approaches
that measure novelty, serendipity, diversity, and coverage [
]. Currently, there are several different
] that can be used to evaluate recommendation systems. When dealing with hybrid
recommendation systems, this must be carefully considered, since the type of hybridization can also
affect the evaluation process, making it complex due to implementation in multiple stages.
In this article, we present a cascade hybrid recommender system implemented in institutional
repositories that is part of the Slovenian National Open-Access Infrastructure. We outlined the
recommender system architecture, document pre-processing, and ranking approaches. A feedback
collection analysis has been presented on real-world data from one of our longest running repositories.
With the analysis, we were able to identify different time-frames during the year where it is suitable
to consider feedback collection on an academic digital repository. An extensive evaluation study is
currently underway and we conclude that, for an extensive evaluation of our recommender system’s
contribution to knowledge exchange and spread across the Slovenian Open-Access Infrastructure,
a uniﬁed framework should be developed in addition to institutional repository management processes
regarding logging user activities and using trafﬁc tracking scripts. Only with such an approach can a
deﬁnitive contribution of the recommender system be conﬁrmed and further researched. It would also
allow the observation of any signiﬁcant cooperation between institutions, as it is already suspected that
the institutions in the two largest institutional repositories in the national open-access infrastructure be
in accordance with the majority of research cooperation efforts in Slovenia.
Conceptualization, M.B., M.F., and M.O.; methodology, M.B. and M.F.; software, M.B.,
M.F., and J.B.; validation, M.B., M.F., J.B., S.M., K.K., and M.O.; writing—original draft preparation, M.B. and
M.O.; writing—review and editing, M.B., M.F., J.B., S.M., K.K., and M.O. All authors have read and agreed to the
published version of the manuscript.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Conﬂicts of Interest: The authors declare no conﬂict of interest.
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