How to be Popular (in Edinburgh Research Explorer)

Edinburgh Research Explorer • www.research.ed.ac.uk

These are conclusions from a survey of the Top 100 MOST POPULAR downloads from Edinburgh Research Explorer in August 2019, it contains some VERY obvious biases and doesn’t reflect the breadth, depth, or usefulness of the repository as a whole; and shows that whilst OPEN ACCESS can reach a wider audience, it can also be ignored by a wider audience.

1. STEER CLEAR OF SCIENCE

Top 100 downloads in Edinburgh Research Explorer by school: science and Non-science
Fig i. Top 100 downloads in Edinburgh Research Explorer by school: science and non-science

Research items from science-related schools made up 18% of the Top 100, dropping to 12% in the Top 50 and 0% in the Top 10.


2. DON’T COLLABORATE

Edinburgh Research Explorer: Downloads (x) vs. No. of authors (y)
Fig ii. Edinburgh Research Explorer: Downloads (x) vs. No. of authors (y)

With each additional author, the number of items and the average number of downloads decreased.


3. YOU DON’T HAVE TO WRITE IN ENGLISH, BUT IT HELPS

In the Top 100, one item was written in Italian, the remainder in English:
that was also one of only five items that month, that failed to find an audience outwith the UK.


4. GO OPEN-ACCESS

8 of the Top 100 items didn’t offer Open-Access Permissions, they averaged 25% fewer downloads than the overall average.

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Edinburgh Research Archive | ER-data: Jan. – June 2019

Edinburgh Research Archive | ER-data: January 2019 - Jun. 2019
Edinburgh Research Archive • www.era.lib.ed.ac.uk • ERdata: Jan. – June 2019

The first half of 2019 saw the fifth highest total of downloads from ERA over a six-month period, unfortunately this is the lowest total of its ‘mature’ phase (since Jan-Jun 2017 download numbers have been consistently higher than 300,000 per 6-month block).

Edinburgh Research Archive: downloads Jun 2013 - June 2019, in six-monthly blocks
Fig i. Edinburgh Research Archive: downloads Jun 2013 – June 2019, in six-monthly blocks

More disappointingly, this is the first time in ERAs history that we’ve witnessed a fall-off in numbers in two consecutive blocks: December 2018 saw a 15% decline and June 2109 has brought a further decline of 6.5%.

The remainder of this report aims to offer an overview of the last six-months of download activity on the Edinburgh Research Archive. Using data generated through the IRUS-UK download statistics portal to investigate that activity under the following headings:

[Also available as a PDF – 605kb]
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Edinburgh Research Explorer | ER-data: Jan. – June 2019

Edinburgh Research Explorer | ER-data: January 2019 - June 2019
Edinburgh Research Explorer • www.research.ed.ac.uk • ERdata: Jan. – June 2019

The first six-months of 2019, as now seems inevitable, have proved to be the busiest six-months in Edinburgh Research Explorer’s brief history, with 543,152 downloads. This is not only the first time that the half-a-million milestone has been breached within such a short period, but represents a 35% increase on the previous best. As the chart below indicates, this rate of growth is unprecedented following a full 6-months:

Edinburgh Research Explorer: downloads May 2017- June 2019, in six-monthly blocks
Fig i. Edinburgh Research Explorer: downloads May 2017- June 2019, in six-monthly blocks

This report aims to offer an overview of the last six-months of download activity on Edinburgh Research Explorer. The data generated through the IRUS-UK download statistics portal is somewhat limited, it won’t tell us much about the users, in terms of who is downloading what, but it will offer up a few broad clues. This report will investigate those clues under the following headings:

[Also available as a PDF]
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Erasmus+ visit to University of Amsterdam

The Red Room at the University of Amsterdam Library

Over the last few months Library Research Support has received a number of international visitors, from places like the University of Helsinki, University of Amsterdam, and the Czech Academy of Sciences Library, who have all come to visit and learn how our Library supports it’s researchers in open access publishing, digitisation, and research information and data management. We recently decided to reverse this trend and go visit somewhere to gain insights into how other institutions tackle similar problems that we face. The University of Amsterdam was chosen because they are a comparator institution, with a similar profile and size as the University of Edinburgh. The trip was funded by funding from a successful bid to the Erasmus+ mobility programme.

On the 8th March 2018 the Scholarly Communications Team visited the University of Amsterdam Central University Library. Over the course of two days we learnt about the services UvA offer to support open access publication, copyright support, research data management and bibliometrics. The visit was finished with a tour of the Central University Library which is based in the centre of the Amsterdam right next to the Singel canal.

University Library Amsterdam, Photo by Universiteitsbibliotheek Amsterdam CC BY 3.0 https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22027868

The Central Library actually consists of three buildings, all of different sizes and ages, merged together which presents a quite a few challenges – particularly for accessibility and continuity of services. The current library site has a rich history beginning in the 1880s when the library moved in to the Handboogdoelen building (furthest left in the picture above), which was a former home of long-bow militia and incorporated a shooting range. The building next door (central building in the pic above), with a façade from 1600s, used to be a former royal stables (you can see the two large doorways for horses) and was added to the Library complex in the 1940s. Finally, the main building (building on the far right in the pic above) was built in a vacant plot alongside in the 1960s. The buildings are linked together, with short staircases used to account for the different levels of the buildings internally.There is a plan to move the Central Library to a purpose built building in 2020.

The Library has a unique contemporary style which tries to live up to Amsterdam’s reputation as being on-trend, forward thinking and liberal. It was redesigned by Amsterdam-based designers Roelof Mulder and Iro Koers who went for a minimalistic design moving away from the traditional stereotype of a library. An example of this is the Red Room (see first picture above), which provides a self-service pick-up point for closed stack materials. The Library also had many interesting small quirky features, like free-to-use massage chairs, relaxation pods, phone booth cubicles and standing tables. The Library will also be participating in a scientific study to assess the impact of plants used in interior decor to affect the mood and learning capabilities of students. One suite of rooms will be filled with plants, with another devoid of vegetation used for a control group. I really liked the idea of the library building being used as a natural laboratory space to test scientific hypotheses.

relaxation pod at UvA Central Library

The visit has forged friendships between the two institutions which we hope to build upon in the future. We have come home from the trip with a whole new range of ideas to improve the services we currently deliver, but we also have a greater appreciation of our shared cultural similarities and differences.