Number crunching

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This week is all about numbers: how much; how often. I’m gathering together lots of information about resources at the moment, and after a full day of looking at spread sheets and graphs and pie charts yesterday, this morning I find my mind in a need of a little light relief.

What’s light relief in the world of an Electronic Resources Librarian, I hear you ask? Looking at yet more statistics, of course! But sometimes I do like to look at things “for fun”. Last week, my daughter had to do some homework on graphs and did some work on representing everyone’s favourite biscuit. Custard creams came out top. So as I’m thinking about our information, I’m wondering what everyone’s favourite database would be here. ScienceDirect? Discover@Bolton? Wiley journals? SportDISCUS? It’s actually not that easy to unpick: what is one person’s favourite database isn’t necessarily someone else’s. There are so many different factors involved that transcend every piece of statistical information I might collect on a database: what is the subject coverage? Is it a full text database? Is it a database of archived journal issues (like JSTOR, for example) or is up current? Is it easy to use? It might have the best content in the world, but what’s the use if no one can access that content!

So to try to determine the “most popular” database is probably very difficult. What might be interesting, however, is to see which of our multidisciplinary databases is being used more. Taking Discover@Bolton out of the equation for just a moment, let’s have a look at ProQuest Central, ScienceDirect, Scopus, JSTOR and Credo. Now, I know without looking (because I’ve been doing this job a long time!) which of these is the most frequently used based on the numbers of full-text downloads or in the case of Scopus, searches. For the academic year 2014/15 this would look like this:

chart

I was right, of course 🙂

What I was surprised about, however, was how high the number of searches was for ScienceDirect. This important database is so much more than the “science” in its name might suggest. It includes journals that cover a huge range of topics such as arts, humanities, economics, finance, psychology and social sciences. With its comprehensive scientific coverage, this database is about as multidisciplinary as it comes.

The good thing about a tool such as Discover@Bolton is that you can access that non-scientific content in a database like ScienceDirect without even knowing that that database will provide you with relevant content.

Access to Discover@Bolton was only enabled in February 2015; full access didn’t come until September. Therefore, the number of searches for the academic year 2014/15 isn’t yet representative of its impact. I’d be interested to see what happens when we look at usage for the academic year 2015/16: at this point (from August which is when we start recording our academic year) we’ve reached an amazing 171,149 searches and 17,253 visits. It’s number crunching like this I enjoy: it’s just one way we can delve into the impact of our electronic resources.

As to the biscuit poll in our household, mine was the only vote for bourbons…

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