Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, July 16, 2007

OpenURL link resolvers increase journal usage

Hua Yi and Catherine S. Herlihy, Assessment of the impact of an open-URL link resolver, New Library World, 108, 7/8 (2007) pp. 317–331.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

Purpose – This paper seeks to report a data-driven assessment of student and faculty use of electronic scholarly resources pre- and post-implementation of an open-URL link resolver.

Design/methodology/approach – Usage data were extracted from two multidisciplinary scholarly aggregators pre- and post-implementation of an open-URL link resolver. Open-URL link resolver usage data for both aggregators were also collected and two timelines established. Statistical analysis was performed to assess direct and indirect impact.

Findings – Study results show that the implementation of an open-URL link resolver has directly contributed to usage increase in the short and long periods under study. Usage patterns also indicate the technology has indirect impact.

Research implications/limitations – Limitations include one-semester limits of short-term data. Non-standardized data could be compared only within each aggregator.

Practical implications – Research outcomes provide a tool for the assessment of student/faculty use of electronic scholarly resources and Collections and Catalog librarian participation in teaching and learning. Usage data are increasingly available to librarians, so work based on research findings can be assessed.

Originality/value – This paper reports student/faculty usage data of searching activities, not their perceptions of electronic resources. Usage data demonstrate that librarians who select and provide access to electronic resources positively affect teaching and learning.

Comment.  These results show that reducing access barriers improves usage even for priced or toll-access journals.  Imagine the effect of removing access barriers.  Unfortunately it’s easier to do a controlled before/after test with the former than with the latter.  But does anyone doubt that if we measured the usage of a set of TA journals before and after their conversion to OA, we would see usage would go up?  Time and resources permitting, journals planning to convert should consider such a controlled study as part of the process. 

Update. I just learned about a similar study: John D. McDonald, Understanding Online Journal Usage: A Statistical Analysis of Citation and Use, Journal of the American Society for Information Science & Technology, January 1, 2007. Abstract:

This study examined the relationship between print journal use, online journal use, and online journal discovery tools with local journal citations. Local use measures were collected from 1997 to 2004 and negative binomial regression models were designed to test the effect that local use, online availability, and access enhancements have on citation behaviors of academic research authors. Models are proposed and tested to determine whether multiple locally recorded usage measures can predict citations and if locally controlled access enhancements influence citation. The regression results indicated that print journal use was a significant predictor of local journal citations prior to the adoption of online journals. Publisher-provided and locally recorded online journal use measures were also significant predictors of local citations. Online availability of a journal was found to significantly increase local citations and for some disciplines, a new access tool like an OpenURL resolver significantly impacts citations and publisher provided journal usage measures.