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Analysis of usage data

Statistics on their own can illustrate certain trends, but in order to gain a fuller picture, variables need to be analysed in greater depth, and compared against information from other sources. The NESLi2 study, funded by the UK Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), is a good example of ways of carrying out such analysis. This project took usage data from four publishers participating in the NESLi2 license initiative, for 17 UK libraries in the years 2003 and 2004. The libraries were a representative selection of small, medium and large, from both pre- and post-1992 universities.

The basic unit of measure was the COUNTER JR1 report (the number of successful full-text article requests). In addition, further information was obtained about the cost of the deal, the list of subscribed titles, the number of full-time equivalent users, and the total library serials budget, and used to analyse the following variables (Conyers, 2005, 2006a and 2006b):

   Usage range: title requests were sorted into the following groups, which enabled identification of high and low use titles:

  • nil and low range (under 10 requests)
  • medium range (10-99 requests)
  • high range (more than 100 requests).

   Price band: grouped as below, which enabled the relationship between usage and price band to be identified:

  • unpriced;
  • low price (under £200)
  • medium price (£200-£399)
  • high price (£400-£999)
  • very high price (over £1,000).

   Subject category: these were divided into STM (science, technology and medicine), and HSS (humanities and social sciences).

   Subscribed or unsubscribed: by identifying to which category titles belong, it is possible to find which are most used.

By manipulating these variables it was possible to assess value for money and in particular to look at the average cost of request (Conyers, 2006a, 2006b).