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

Information Technology and Libraries, December 1998 | Go to article overview

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


International Coalition of Library Consortia

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 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.

I. Requirements

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

   1. By each specific database of the provider

   2. By each institutionally-defined set of IP addresses / locators to subnet
   level

   3. By total consortium

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

   5. 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 24 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,
   emailed, printed) to the extent these can be recorded and controlled by the
   server rather than the browser:

      * Citations displayed (for A&I databases)

      * Full text displayed broken down by title, ISSN with title listed, or
      other title identifier as appropriate:

        1. … 

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