Electronic Journal Usage statistics and the OpenAthens LA effect.

I am not sure who, now, but someone said that there would be a noticable OpenAthens LA effect. It would make sense that removing some of the obstacles to using electronic resources like databases and electronic journals would increase usage. There has certainly been good usage of the Single Sign On service to external resources, since it was introduced half way through 2011.

Logging in may or may not have increased (it is hard to measure this), but has there been any effect on journal article downloads? We can use the figures collected and managed within the JUSP (Journal Usage Statistics Portal) to see if we can catch any trends.

Elsevier – Science Direct

The journal service with the highest usage is likely to be Science Direct. JUSP automatically collects data on journal downloads and enables us to visualise this data in different reports. The one I am relying on here is ‘Tables and graphs – trends over time’.
Elsevier - Science DirectThere is evidence of high usage for downloads from Elsevier journals, but the pattern is quite similar for 2011 as for other years. The count includes ScienceDirect and aggregator downloads.

Sage Journals

Sage JournalsFor Sage Journals we have data from both the publisher and other aggregator services, like EBSCO and Ingenta. There are lower usage figures than with ScienceDirect, as you might expect, but the patterns are again fairly similar each year.

Edinburgh University Press

Edinburgh University PressFor this publisher there are only a few journals to which we have access. this leads to low usage and high spikes. I did hear of problems for off-site users with journals from this publisher, which I was hoping would lead to an increase in usage in the 2nd half of 2011. We may have done better than the previous year, but that result does not compare with the year before that (2009).

British Medical Journal

British Medical Journal publicationsFinally with this publisher there does seem to be evidence of an improvement in article downloads after the move to Single Sign On in the summer of 2011. Given the lack of impact in other publishers though, it may be co-incidental. Perhaps the focus on access rights during the move unblocked authorisation rules that were previously blocking users from this site. If there is an effect, it is alarming that in December 2011 there was such a steep drop. Things have picked up again by January 2012, but this looks like the result of loss of access rights rather than just the Christmas and New Year break.

Emerald, Cambridge University Press?

Some major publishers have yet to configure their platforms to enable JUSP to collect usage statistics on our behalf. I hope that changes soon.

I can find little evidence that the switch to OpenAthens LA to create a Single Sign On service has measurably improved journal article download figures. Conversely, there is no evidence of a lowering effect either.

About Philip Adams

Senior Assistant Librarian at De Montfort University. I have recently introduced a Single Sign On service for the library's databases and electronic journals. I am interested in digital preservation and the use of data to measure a library's impact. All comments own.
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