Guidelines for Statistical Measures of Usage of Web-Based Indexed, Abstracted, and Full-Text Resources

Article excerpt

The use of licensed electronic information resources will continue to expand and in some cases become the sole or dominant means of access to content. The electronic environment, as manifested by the World Wide Web, provides an opportunity to improve the measurement of the use of these resources. In the electronic arena we can more accurately determine which information is being accessed and used. Without violating any issues of privacy or confidentiality, we can dramatically enhance our understanding of information use.

The participating consortia of the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) have a responsibility to their library members to ensure the provision of usage information of licensed electronic resources. Information providers should want the same information to better understand the market for their services as well as to create an informed customer base. These mutual interests can be best met by defining and creating a common set of basic use information requirements that are an integral and necessary part of any electronic product offering. These requirements apply to vendor-operated Web sites and to software provided to libraries or consortia for local operation. Information providers are encouraged to go beyond these minimal requirements as appropriate for their specific electronic resources.

These ICOLC guidelines draw heavily upon the guidelines developed by the JSTOR Web Statistics Task Force: David Farrell, Berkeley, Chair; Jim Mullins, Villanova; Kimberly Parker, Yale; Dave Perkins, CSU-Northridge; Sue Phillips, Texas; Camille Wanat, Berkeley; Kristen Garlock, JSTOR, ex officio. The ICOLC guidelines reflect modifications to maximize their broad applicability to the diversity of resources licensed by many ICOLC members.

1. Requirements: Each use element defined below should be able to be delineated by the following subdivisions:

i) By each specific database of the provider

ii) By each institutionally defined set of IP addresses/locators to subnet level

iii) By total consortium

iv) By special data element passed by subscriber (e.g., account or ID number)

v) By time period. Vendor's system should minimally report by month. For each month, each type of use should be reported by hour of the day, and vendor should maintain twenty-four months of historical data.

Use elements that must be provided are:

* Number of queries (searches) categorized as appropriate for the vendor's information. A search is intended to represent a unique intellectual inquiry. Typically a search is recorded each time a search form is sent/submitted to the server. Subsequent activities to review or browse among the records retrieved or the process of isolating the correct single item desired do not represent additional searches, unless the parameter(s) defining the retrieval set is modified through resubmission of the search form, a combination of previous search sets, or some other similar technique.

* Number of menu selections categorized as appropriate to the vendor's system. If display of data is accomplished by browsing (use of menus), this measure must be provided (e.g., an electronic journal site provides alphabetic and subject-based menu options in addition to a search form. The number of searches and the number of alphabetic and subject menu selections should be tracked).

* Number of sessions (logins), if relevant, must be provided as a measure of simultaneous use. It is not a substitute for either query or menu selection counts.

* Number of turn aways, if relevant, as a contract limit (e.g., requests exceed simultaneous user limit).

* Number of items examined (i.e., viewed, marked or selected, downloaded, e-mailed, printed) to the extent these can be recorded and controlled by the server rather than the browser:

1. Citations displayed (for A&I databases)

2. …