Ejournals and Researchers: a clear success
The RIN has just published the second part of the study dedicated to how UK researchers have changed their behaviours in response to the revolution in access, about how they make use of online journals, or about the benefits that flow from that use.
- Intensive users view and download more articles per capita – they spend much less time on each visit • they do not use many of the online facilities provided on the publishers’ platform • they are much more likely to enter via gateway sites (Google, WoS, PubMed)
- Usage is rising and cost-per-use is falling: In the years from 2003-4 to 2006-7, the number of article downloads more than doubled, with growth at a compound annual rate of 21.7%. In 2006-7 users downloaded over 100 million articles, and each registered FTE library user downloaded on average 47 articles a year. As the number of downloads has risen, so the average direct cost of each download (excluding overheads, time and other indirect costs) has fallen, so that in 2006-7 it was £0.80.
- Researchers use services such as Google and Google Scholar, PubMed, Scopus and Web of Knowledge because they are typically seeking a wide reach in their results, both of journal articles and other kinds of sources. No single publisher platform can provide that reach.
- Life scientists are the most likely (50%) to use e-journals ‘most’ or ‘every working day
- Log analysis showed high concentrations of downloads and page views on the top 5% of journals in all disciplines, with the rates particularly high in economics and chemistry.
- Researchers now expect immediate access to the full text, and they are frustrated when they find that their university does not have the necessary subscription, or that they are asked for a password they do not have, or that they are asked to pay for a download.
- Publisher logs show that nearly a quarter of journal use by university researchers takes place outside the traditional 9-5 working day, and that a sixth takes place at weekends.
- Library users nevertheless have access to a much larger range of titles than ever before – Library expenditure on e-resources and training has brought spectacular success in driving a massive rise in usage and sharp falls in the average cost per download
- The use of e-journals and research outcomes: We find that article downloads correlate positively, with few outliers, with all four measures of research success.
Conclusion: UK researchers are producing more articles, with more references, from a wider range of sources.
Gray, Catherine. E-journals: their use, value and impact – final report. RIN, Online on 18th of January 2011.