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Higher e-journal spend linked to better research outcomes

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There is a clear correlation between levels of usage of e-journals and research outcomes, according to studies done by the CIBER group at University College London on behalf of the UK’s Research Information Network (RIN).

CIBER analysed log files from journal websites and data from libraries in 10 universities and research institutions to find out how e-journals are being used by academic researchers.  Its research revealed that, independent of institutional size, the per capita expenditure and use of e-journals is strongly positively correlated with papers published, numbers of PhD awards and research grants and contracts income.

The study also revealed that over a four-month period, users at 10 UK research institutions visited nearly 1,400 ScienceDirect journals half a million times. Many users look for articles using search engines like Google and GoogleScholar, or gateway sites like PubMed. Researchers and students in higher education downloaded 102 million full-text articles n 2006/07, at an average cost of £0.80 per download. However, researchers seek for and use information in very different ways. Users in research-intensive universities show the highest use of e-journals but spend the least amount of time on each visit.

The RIN and CIBER are now exploring these findings qualitatively to find out what researchers are doing once they have downloaded their articles. Questions include whether large amount of use equates with satisfaction, why users spend so little time online, why they go to gateway sites and why so few researchers use advanced searching or internal search engines. The results should be published early next year.