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JISC-REPOSITORIES  March 2006

JISC-REPOSITORIES March 2006

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Subject:

Use of Navigational Tools in a Repository

From:

Leslie Carr <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Leslie Carr <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 9 Mar 2006 00:37:44 +0000

Content-Type:

multipart/mixed

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (44 lines) , pastedGraphic.tiff (44 lines) , text/plain (28 lines) , pastedGraphic.tiff (28 lines) , text/plain (66 lines)

A recent discussion between some colleagues on the utility (or  
otherwise) of subject classification in repositories prompted me to  
undertake a brief investigation whose results I present here. (I'll  
also send this to AMSCI, so apologies for any duplicate copies that  
you see.) The discussion has broadly been between computer scientists  
and librarians over whether subject classification schemes offer  
advantages over Google-style text retrieval; the study below looks at  
the evidence as demonstrated in the usage of one particular  
repository. As such it doesn't address the intrinsic value of  
classification, but it does offer some insight into the effectiveness  
of navigational tools (including subject classification) in the  
context of a repository.

----------------
The University of Southampton Institutional Repository has been in  
operation for a number of years and an official (rather than  
experimental or pilot) part of its infrastructure for just over a  
year. As part of its capabilities, it includes lists of most recently  
deposited material, various kinds of searches, a subject tree based  
on the upper levels of the Library of Congress Classification scheme  
and an organisational tree listing the various Faculties, Schools and  
Research Groups in the University and a list of articles broken down  
by year of publication. These all provide what we hope are useful  
facilities for helping researchers find papers (ie by time, subject,  
affiliation or content).

Over a period of some 29.5 hours from 0400 GMT on March 7th 2006,  
1978 "abstract" pages (ie eprints records) were downloaded from the  
repository (ignoring all crawlers, bots and spiders).

Of the 1978 downloaded pages, the following URL sources (referrers,  
in web log speak) were responsible:
   439  - (direct URL, perhaps cut and paste into a browser or  
clicked on from an email client)
   225  EPRINTS SOTON pages
     25  OTHER SOTON WEB pages
1264 EXTERNAL SEARCH ENGINES
     21  EXTERNAL WEB PAGES

ie the local repository facilities, including subject views and  
searches, led to only 225/1978 = 11% of all downloads.




 From that we can tell that the repository navigation and search facilities affect little of the ultimate repository usage. (This may be a depressing message for a repository administrator such as myself, because it highlights how little control I have over my repository's users either to help or manipulate them!) Of the 225 local repository links, the following breakdown applies:    13 Latest Deposits page 103 Searches (both simple and advanced)    57 Browse by Schools and Groups Hierarchy    17 Browse by Subjects Hierarchy      0 Browse by Year of Publication    33 Directly linked from other abstracts (or reloads).    12 Misc infrastructure ie 11% of the downloaded records are accounted for by use of the local repository. 8% of that usage is caused by the subjects tree (ie 0.86% of all eprint downloads are caused by the subject tree). For what it's worth, a breakdown of papers by school and research group is three times more popular than the subjects list, but it is still only involved in 3% of the downloads. Local search accounts for 5%, but it still isn't very significant! The result is even more gloomy for the breakdown by "Year of Publication", which didn't lead to any eprint downloads whatsoever!
The majority of repository use, if I can equate eprint downloads with repository use, is due to external web search engines (64%). This may be due to the fact that of the 1978 downloads, only 131 (or 7%) came from Southampton University IP addresses. In other words, behaviour of external traffic dominates the repository usage. If you look only at the local users from the above data (the downloads that came from Southampton IP addresses), then the breakdown is as follows.   39 (direct URL, perhaps cut and paste into a browser or clicked on from an email client)      1 Directly linked from other abstracts (or reloads)    10 Latest Deposits page    71 Local Repository Searches      1 Browse by Schools and Groups Hierarchy    10 External Search Engines These numbers are quite low and really need a longer period to be confident, but it appears that local repository searches are much more popular than external search engines for local users. But the browse by year/subject/school are all largely ignored. Taking a diifferent approach and looking at all of the page requests for the repository that were coming from the University of Southampton users (not just eprint downloads but the home page and all search requests and browsing pages but ignoring icons, stylesheets and javascript), in the same period there were 1025 requests coming from 52 uniquely identifiable users.    72 Home Page    52 Latest Deposits 122 Search       2 List of Browse Choices     25 Browse by Group       6 Browse by Subjects       2 Browse by Year 132 Download Eprint Records (abstracts page)    26 Download EPrints Files (full texts) 544 User Login, Deposit and Admin    14 OAI-PMH Once again we can see that local search overwhelms the use of local browse categories (whether by subject, group or year). Conclusions ========== External users dominate repository usage. External search engines (including OAI search engines) are the primary mechanism for finding papers. Local users show a somewhat greater tendency to use local search facilities. Neither external nor local users appear much influenced by subject listings or other browse categories. This study seems fairly conclusive but its results may not be typical. Further study is being undertaken to compare these results with other types of repository and to determine the repository features (if indeed there are any) that can best help readers in the task of finding relevant material (resource discovery). --- Les Carr

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