Subject disciplines & download figures

One line summary

Disciplines without dedicated subject repositories seem to provide the most popular items downloaded from our institutional service.

The general trend

Whilst looking at the top 99 most downloaded items from the Edinburgh Research Explorer it struck me that the most popular cluster of subject disciplines were those from the Humanities & Social Sciences.

pie chart

The pie chart above shows the general breakdown by college with the Humanities and Social Science disciplines making up over half of the most popular items downloaded from our institutional repository. Science and Engineering disciplines own a third of the most popular items, whilst Medicine & Veterinary Medicine make up the remainder.

I was initially surprised given that the bulk of our 18,000+ open access full text items are from the Science, Technology, Engineering & Technology (STEM) fields.

 Looking in more detail

When you further sub-divide the broad classification into finer subject groupings you start to see the beginnings of a pattern emerge.

bar chart

The bar chart above shows the number of items in the top 99 downloads for each school at the University of Edinburgh (apologies for the tiny text – click image to enlarge). Each school broadly maps to a subject area, albeit with some fuzziness; for example, the Edinburgh College of Art comprises a number of creative disciplines like Fine Art, Music and Design brought together in one unit.

Science & Engineering (Red)

From our download figures the most popular S&E subject disciplines – Geosciences, Engineering and Chemistry – all don’t have dedicated subject repositories. Whereas, the least popular – Maths, Physics, Informatics and Biological Sciences –  are all well covered by the subject repositories arXiv or PubMed Central.

Humanities & Social Sciences (Blue)

The most downloaded HSS units are the Edinburgh College of Art, the Business School, History, Classics & Archaeology and Social & Political Science; none of which have established methods of sharing via subject repositories.

Economics is already serviced well by RePeC, Psychology & Language Sciences have CogPrints, and Health in Social Sciences is covered by PubMed Central. Only Divinity and Education don’t have subject repositories and have relatively low download rates.

Medicine & Veterinary Medicine (Green)

This college grouping is extremely well covered by the PubMed Central subject repository which may explain the poorer than expected usage performance.

Some closing remarks and limitations

There are no bad results here: all of the open access downloads from our service are complimentary to those obtained directly from publishers websites and from other subject repositories. These downloads can in a way be considered extra views that we help facilitate.

This blog post is only a quick observation and not a fully fledged study so take what I say here with a pinch of salt. Using the number of popular items as a proxy for download rates may not be completely accurate, but on the other hand it does help even out some anomalies (like high download figures for one item skewing the whole data set). To be more comprehensive we should really look at the whole set of 18,000+ items rather than just the top 99. Even with these limitations in mind I still think this is a useful and interesting observation.

2014 download statistics from

As well as reporting on the number of open access uploads to our institutional repository we now have the facility to report on the other end of the spectrum – the number of downloads for each item.  Here are the top 10 items downloaded from our research portal so far in 2014:

Title  School Jan-14 Feb-14 Mar-14 Apr-14 May-14 Total
Total 28,229 33,418 44,437 47,864 50,092 278,667
The past, present and future of China’s automotive industry Business School 523 633 993 1199 993 5796
Youth Crime and Justice School of Law 207 192 272 384 198 2127
The Computer Modelling of Mathematical Reasoning School of Informatics 198 152 267 187 125 1734
An Introduction to Conditional Random Fields School of Informatics 66 349 614 656 1685
The double-curvature masonry vaults of Eladio Dieste Edinburgh College of Art 126 187 234 187 178 1342
Liquidity, Business Cycles and Monetary Policy School of Economics 59 82 72 78 69 839
The dynamics of solar PV costs and prices as a challenge for technology forecasting School of Engineering 41 110 164 212 237 835
The Limits to ‘Spin-Off’ School of Social and Political Science 389 121 35 17 19 833
The Adaptive City Edinburgh College of Art 69 56 98 125 195 818

It is interesting to note that six of the items are from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, whilst the remaining four items are from the College of Science & Engineering. Records from the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine are surprisingly absent from the top downloads chart. In fact this trend continues if you look at the top 100 downloaded records. I have a pet theory about this which I will follow up in a separate blog post [EDIT – post available here].

Researchers – what’s new for you from the Library

“Researchers – what’s new for you from the Library” is an event being held in the Murray Library at the King’s Buildings to highlight some recent developments in Library services and resources for researchers. Places are bookable for all University of Edinburgh staff and research postgraduates via MyEd (see booking links below) or just drop into the Murray Library Ground Floor. Coffee and buns will be available from 12.30.

When: Wednesday 28th May
Where: Murray Library, Ground floor

Murray Library

Programme of talks

Each session is 15 minutes each plus 5 minutes Q&A. Pick and choose which talks you fancy or come along to the whole event:

13:00 – 13.20 – Research Data Management

13.30 – 13.50 – Open Access: an overview

14.00 – 14.20 – Post 2014 REF: Open Access requirements

14.30 – 14.50 – Library support for researchers – overview

15.00 – 15.20 – Centre for Research Collections: Science and Engineering historical collections

If you’ve not been along to the Murray Library before then this is a great excuse to come and check out the new building and it’s excellent facilities. Also, did we mention the free Tea/Coffee and Doughnuts?

8000th full text item added to the Edinburgh Research Archive

To round off the week we’re delighted to have just archived our 8000th full text item in the Edinburgh Research Archive. The item to receive this prestigious accolade is a dissertation from the Moray House School of Education called:

Writing in the Junior Secondary Phase “Standard V”.

This dissertation was digitised from microfilm and uploaded to ERA by Stephanie Anderson who we have had the pleasure of working with us for the last month. Stephanie has been working in our Scholarly Communications Team as an intern as part of her studies for a Library and Information Studies Masters degree from Robert Gordon University.

We have really enjoyed having Stephanie join our team for the short time she was here, and we wish her all the best for her future endeavours!

University of Edinburgh Open Access update: April 2014

Green Open Access

As of 30th April there are approximately 78,340 records in our Current Research Information System (PURE), of which 18,321 have open access documents available to the general public (23% open access).

Looking specifically at just journal articles and conference proceedings:

OA full text/Record only (all time) Open access % OA full text/Record only (2013+) Open access %
Medicine & Veterinary Medicine 6,712/19,998  34  1,023/2,212  46
Humanities & Social Science 3,459/13,571  26  577/1,119  51
Science & Engineering 5,915 /26,009  23  841/2,049  41


Gold Open Access

Monthly application figures to the Gold Open Access funds:

Month Applications to RCUK Applications to Wellcome
January 2014 32 13
February 2014 24 13
March 2014 23 14
April 2014 35 5

Status of the Wellcome fund – since the start of the new reporting period (November 2013) the cumulative open access spend has been £152,826

Status of the RCUK fund – current cumulative spend for the current reporting period (since April 2013) is £393,480 with an additional £65,500 committed on articles submitted for publication.