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Academics as information consumers David Nicholas CIBER UCL Centre for Publishing School of Library, Archive and Information Studies

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Presentation on theme: "Academics as information consumers David Nicholas CIBER UCL Centre for Publishing School of Library, Archive and Information Studies"— Presentation transcript:

1 Academics as information consumers David Nicholas CIBER UCL Centre for Publishing School of Library, Archive and Information Studies

2 A presentation showing… Evidence of new and changing patterns of information seeking behaviour CIBER has found as a result of examining the digital fingerprints of hundreds of thousands of academics/scholars – students, professors, researchers The marked consumer traits of this behaviour Significance of this to information providers and academic policy makers – at last we have an evidence base which provides us with some grip and punctures the hype

3 Period of massive & continuing change From mediated to non mediated searching From searching from libraries to searching from home, office and on the move From niche searches to global searches From an information corner shop to an information superstore From a few searchers to everybody searching From prepared searching to unprepared searching From little choice to massive choice From little change to continuous change There has been a paradigm shift in user behaviour

4 Virtual Scholar programme (2002-2006) Massive evidence base on behaviour of virtual scholars Deep log analysis methods – digital fingerprints related to user demographic and attitudinal data Studies of digital libraries: EmeraldInsight; Blackwell Synergy; ScienceDirect; IoP Electronic Journals Service; OhioLINK; OUP Open Pick out the key (and surprising) characteristics that have emerged from these studies I dont recognise the users you are describing

5 Users phenomenally active, increasingly interested Synergy: more than 500,000 people used site a month, recording nearly 5 million views OhioLINK: 6000 journals available and all bar 5 not used within month surveyed EmeraldInsight: two-thirds of visitors non-subscribers Nucleic Acids Research (NAR): 17,150 downloads made in a single month and usage increased by 150% in two and a half years Scholarly publications a product in demand and it is improved access (via big deals, search engines, OA) that is the driver

6 NAR: daily article views for two & half years

7 NAR: monthly articles viewed by referrer

8 Sales help too

9 Bouncers Over two thirds typically view no more than three items in a visit and then leave; Many do not return: within a year 50-66% of did not come back. User loyalty a concern; highly volatile users, like search engines Search a variety of sites to find what they want; Suggesting at best a checking-comparing, dipping sort of behaviour that is a result of search engines, a shortage of time and huge digital choice. Flicking. Promiscuous. Or, at worse, massive failure at the terminal?

10 Trust up for grabs Authority and relevance to be won (and checked). End- user checkers Determining responsibility a problem – Tesco Particular problems for libraries – e.g. Google users of ScienceDirect, searching courtesy of the Library. Differences between age groups – NHS example

11 Dominance of search engine searching has big implications People using search engine were: –far more likely to conduct a session that included a view to older article (older material on a level-playing field –more likely to view more subject areas, more journal titles, and also viewed more articles and abstracts too. Undergraduates most likely to have used the search facility: 46% had compared to 26% of postgraduates, 19% of researchers and 15% of professors or teachers. Changing

12 User diversity We must move away from hits to users. As already indicated, very real differences between various types of user, especially in regard to their subject field; academic status and geographical location. We have also examined - and found in some cases differences - according to gender, type of organisation worked for, type of university, attitudes towards scholarly communication

13 Diversity examples (ScienceDirect) Physics & Computer sciences users visited most often. Repeat visits increase with age. Those visiting regularly published more. Number of views increased with age. Chinese and Germans viewed the greatest number of items. Use of abstracts increased markedly with the age of the user. Students made the greatest use of full text (HTML) articles and Chinese users recorded the highest use of PDFs. Older and younger users and those from Spain and China were more likely to view current material. Germans the most successful searchers (more hits, less zero searches). Overall Germans appeared to be the most efficient users.

14 Reading or scanning? Something to get those grey cells working Articles took about 38 seconds to view, which suggests that people were not reading online, but probably scanning to determine relevance or simply downloading them. People spent more time reading/scanning shorter articles online than longer ones. Longer the article the more likely to read as an abstract only. Does this mean that shorter articles are more likely to be read (and cited) than longer ones? Are any of the articles downloaded read at another time never see the light of day again (a form of digital osmosis)?

15 Conclusions, questions and implications (1) Choice and a common/multi-function retrieval platform changing us all; making us (even Astrophysicists) behave as consumers and we should question our assumptions about todays scholar Have we really thought through the implication of horizontal rather then vertical user searching? Is the popularity of the system with users (we are all librarians now) masking its failures – what of future of life critical digital services?

16 Conclusions, questions and implications (2) When people are provided with a digital service things dont go as expected. When millions of users are on the road that is an impossibility (kiosks) Therefore feedback techniques like DLA are essential. DLA raises the questions. We need to get closer to the user but we are actually moving further apart. We need to move from hits, to users and then outcomes Its tough being a consumer today

17 Some references (see also 1.Nicholas, D., Huntington, P. and Watkinson, A. Scholarly journal usage: the results of deep log analysis. Journal of Documentation, 61(2), 2005, 246-280. 2.Nicholas, D., Huntington, P., Dobrowolski, T., Rowlands, I., Jamali, H. R. & Polydoratou, P. Revisiting obsolescence and journal article decay through usage data: an analysis of digital journal use by year of publication, Information processing and Management, 41(6), 2005, 1441-1461. 3.Nicholas D, Huntington P, Williams P and Dobrowolski T. The Digital Information Consumer in New directions in human information behaviour. Edited by A Spink and C Cole. Kluwer Academic, 2005 4.Nicholas D and Huntington P. Digital journals: are they really used? Interlending and Document Supply, June 2006 [In press] 5.Nicholas D, Huntington P, Jamali HR and Tenopir, C. Finding information in (very large) digital libraries: a deep log approach to determining differences in use according to method of access. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 32 (2), March 2006, 119-126 6.Nicholas D, Huntington P, Jamali HR and Tenopir C. (2006) OhioLINK – ten years on: what deep log analysis tells us about the impact of Big Deals. Journal of Documentation, 62 (4) July 2006.

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