Higher spending on electronic journals is linked to more use and better research outcomes

Added by Sarah on 25 August 2009 14:12

A new report from RIN  reveals that there is a clear correlation between levels of usage of electronic journals (or e-journals) and research outcomes.

E-journals: their use, value and impact, is based on an analysis of log files from journal websites and data from libraries in ten universities and research institutions, the study is the first of its kind to build a clear, evidence-based, picture of how e-journals are actually being used by academic researchers.

The report takes an in-depth look at how researchers in the UK use e-journals, the value they bring to universities and research institutions and the contribution they make to research productivity, quality and outcomes. It questions what effect have they had on the ways in which researchers seek information, whether they provide good value for money to higher education libraries and what are the wider benefits for universities and research institutions.

Key findings from the study include:

  • E-journals are a big deal: over a four-month period, users at ten UK research institutions visited nearly 1,400 ScienceDirect journals half a million times.
  • Information seeking is fast and direct: many users look for articles using search engines like Google and GoogleScholar, or gateway sites like PubMed.
  • Researchers seek for and use information in very different ways: users in research-intensive universities show the highest use of e-journals and spend the least amount of time on each visit.
  • E-journals represent good value for money: researchers and students in higher education downloaded 102 million full-text articles n 2006/07, at an average cost of ?0.80 per download.
  • Journal use and expenditure correlate with research outcomes: independent of institutional size, the per capita expenditure and use of e-journals is strongly and positively correlated with papers published, numbers of PhD awards and research grants and contracts income.

A second, qualitative phase of the study to explore these findings further is now taking place and aims to find out what researchers are doing once they have downloaded their articles. Questions include: does large amount of use equate with satisfaction? Why do users spend so little time online? What are the reasons for going to a gateway site? Why do very few researchers use advanced searching, and why is the use of internal search engines not more favoured? Results are expected to be published in 2010.

Download the report and briefing document from our project page.


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