The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has announced the publication of a white paper on electronic journal usage statistics by Judy Luther, president of the consulting firm Informed Strategies. The report examines why it has been difficult to obtain statistics on electronic journal usage, and reveals librarians' and publishers' concerns with respect to the generation of usage statistics. The paper suggests a context for further discussion between the providers and consumers of electronic journals.
Fewer than half of the publishers of electronic journals currently generate statistics on usage for librarians. According to the announcement, the reason is not a simple matter of publishers being unwilling to provide such information, even though some complain that implementing a data-collection function is costly and others fear that librarians will cancel subscriptions if usage is low. A more basic problem is that there's no agreement on how to produce data that can be compared and analyzed. It has been difficult for librarians to know what to ask for when something as basic as the term "use" can have many meanings. Librarians and publishers must work together in solving the problem.
The white paper reveals that publishers and librarians share a significant number of concerns besides a lack of comparable or complete usage data. They worry about the lack of context for understanding data, the lack of certainty about effective economic models, and the complexity of issues related to user privacy. …