Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Combining Citation Studies and Usage Statistics to Build a Stronger Collection

Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Combining Citation Studies and Usage Statistics to Build a Stronger Collection

Article excerpt

Academic librarians managing electronic resources have used different approaches to evaluate journal collections to better serve the research needs of their parent institutions. Citation studies and analyses of usage statistics are two different approaches for assessing the value of journal collections and are well-established in the professional literature. Individually, each method cannot fully address questions about the potential value of the collection. Looking at citations in conjunction with usage statistics may provide better insight into how well a library supports faculty research interests. This study represents an effort to combine the two approaches in a meaningful way in an attempt to answer the following questions:

* In what journals are faculty publishing?

* What journals are faculty citing?

* Does the library subscribe to these journals?

* What level of access to each journal is currently provided?

The current study is a "proof of concept" that can be applied to large journal collections.

Literature Review

Citation studies provide a way for researchers to observe trends and patterns in research output. Garfield is known for his pioneering work in early citation studies. He first mentioned the idea of an impact factor in "Citation Indexes for Science: A New Dimension in Documentation through Association of Ideas" in Science in 1955. (1) An experimental Genetics Citation Index was published and this evolved into the Science Citation Index in 1961. (2) Since this time, many studies have examined what could be considered core journal collections to discern what researchers need to add to the growing body of knowledge in their fields. Echezona, Okafor, and Ukwoma found that the journal cited most often by library and information science postgraduates at the University of Nigeria Nsukka was College & Research Libraries. They attributed this to the fact that College & Research Libraries was available in the university's library, highlighting a critical shortcoming of citation analysis: journal use is influenced by availability. A lack of research in some subjects may be due, in part, to a lack of resources in those areas. To be beneficial, citation studies should be combined with other methods. (3)

In contrast, reliable electronic journals usage statistics have only been available since the implementation of Project Counting Online Usage of NeTworked Electronic Resources' (COUNTER) original goals in 2003. Project COUNTER ( is an international initiative to bring consistency and reliability to the measures used to evaluate library electronic resources that includes librarians, publishers, and aggregators. Usage statistics have undergone further refinements since the first release of the COUNTER Code of Practice in 2002. Prior to COUNTER, usage statistics would not allow for easy comparisons across platforms, and some librarians today would contend that cross-platform comparisons are not advisable because of interface issues that elevate counts for some platforms. (4) A method that combines citation studies and usage analysis is needed to provide additional information, which could help inform subscription decisions.

For over two decades, academic libraries have been in transition from print journals to electronic access. As Xu observed, the tools and methods that were developed in the 20th century for collection analysis were not created with evaluating modern serials collections in mind, evaluating collections in subsets focused on subject areas or as a whole, or across formats such as serials, monographs, etc. (5) In studying the relationship between print and electronic journal (e-journal) use and e-journal discovery, McDonald found that both print use and e-journal use were significant predictors of local citation rates, with print use predicting local citation rates with a two-year delay. (6) De Groote et al. …

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