How readers discover content in scholarly publications

How readers discover content in scholarly publications

by | 1 Nov 2018

Maastricht University (UM) participated in a large-scale survey of readers of scholarly publications. The output is now available and contains interesting findings for UM teaching staff, in teaching students to become more information literate. Also UM Library can benefit from the output for building library collections and improving the discovery service.

 

Interesting findings

Last March, we asked you to participate in a large-scale survey of readers of scholarly publications (n=10977) and their behaviour in the discovery of journal articles, online books, and video (Library Wall post 9 March 2018: How do you discover scholarly content in books, videos and journals?).

The survey was conducted during February, March and April of 2018 by Renew Publishing Consultants. It builds upon previous surveys conducted in 2005, 2008, 2012 and 2015. The survey gives insight in where researchers, lecturers, students and others start searching for scholarly information.

The output of that survey is published in August 2018 in a report by Tracy Gardner and Simon Inger from Renew Publishing Consultants.The findings of the study can be useful for building library collections and improving the discovery service. The findings are also useful for faculty teachers, in teaching students to become more information literate.

 

Some of the key findings:

  • In the academic sector as a whole, abstracting and indexing databases (A&Is) still appear to be the most important starting point in search. Academic search engines (such as Google Scholar) are more important than general search engines (such as Google).
  • Library discovery seems to have peaked in its importance-rating and is only holding a strong position in Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.
  • In 2012 we noted the particularly low traction of social media as a discovery tool in Humanities and Social Science, and it is in these two areas where we have seen some of the greatest increases. Some other subjects are showing a real decline indicating social media is less important as a discovery tool in some subjects.
  • Journal alerts have lost traction as a discovery method. Search alerts and bookmarks are used, but to the lowest extent of those resources tested.
  • The features people find useful on a publisher website varies significantly across demographics. Related articles and reference linking are generally the most useful features. Social media sharing and article level metrics are not particular popular in any demographic studies.
  • There is no one dominant player in content discovery. Whilst the large and influential A&Is and search engines continue to lead, other methods of discovery continue to be important. A reminder to publishers that all bases need to be covered when thinking about their content distribution strategy – it certainly is not simply all about Google.

 

 

Full report

If you want to read more about the findings of the survey, this is the link to the full report.

 

Contact us

If you want to talk to the library about the findings of this survey, feel free to contact Henriëtta Hazen via Ask your Librarian.

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