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SuperJournal Usage Analysis: Hypotheses to Test

Draft, 12 January 1998

1. Cluster Issues

Assessment: Patterns of usage across clusters over a period of time to allow usage to stabilise

1.1 It is possible to define a cluster of journals to cover the majority of interests of users in science communities but not in the humanities.

1.2 As a consequence of 1.1 a cluster of journals will have no value to humanities users; value will lie in the presence of one or two journals which match the interests of a particular user. Conversely, in the sciences, value will lie in being able to search across a sufficient number of journals in the cluster.

1.3 Also as a consequence of 1.1 humanities users will make much narrower use of a cluster (fewer journals accessed, less use of search engines etc) than science users. (but see 5.3).

1.4 We would expect very little repeat use to be made by a particular user across clusters i.e. only top level browsing (not detailed examination of articles). The exception may be librarians who may have wide ranging interests in training and content examination.

2. Initial Usage (Reasons for trying and barriers)

Assessment: Initial use and its translation into repeat use and follow up interviews

2.1 Users will be most encouraged to try SuperJournal if it contains one or more journals which reflect their core interests.

2.2 Early and continuing active local promotion of the service will be necessary to initiate and sustain usage (as opposed to relying on electronic promotion alone or on hearsay etc).

3. The Information Environment

Assessment: Usage patterns in relation to other services available to users

3.1 Humanities users will have most difficulty getting started because of lack of personal computer equipment, access to networks etc.

3.2 Science users will adopt the application and its features and functions more readily because they are familiar with other electronic services which have similar capabilities.

3.3 Usage will be greater the better is the local information services support that is available to the user.

3.4 SuperJournal will be of value to the extent that it provides users with access to journals in the office and at home.

3.5 Usage will be greater the more distant the user is from the library.

3.6 SuperJournal will be of value to the extent that it provides access out of library hours.

3.7 Usage will be greater when journals are not in the library.

4. Patterns of Repeat Usage

Assessment: Characterise types of usage and compare initial use with repeat use

4.1 Repeat usage will be different in kind to initial use, i.e. initial use will be exploratory browsing to see what is there and assess its relevance and value. Repeat usage will be more task focused, i.e. specific searches or detailed examination of particular articles.

4.2 Repeat usage will be driven by task criteria and individual differences, and may be characterised by a variety of patterns, e.g.

4.3 Patterns of use may vary with user types. The description in 3.2 refers to academic/researcher patterns. Librarians may make regular accesses but not at a deep level (checking on what is there or demonstrating services). Student usage may involve many users accessing the same group of articles in a short time period (to conduct studies set by lecturers).

5. Preferences and Problems with the Service

Assessment: Primarily detailed analysis of user responses (especially by repeat users) of system performance, functions and features rather than content

5.1 Lengthy system delays will be a major reason for aborting a session and not returning to the application.

5.2 Electronic journals will not be considered to have real value until they contain multimedia not found in the paper versions.

5.3 Electronic journals will not be considered to have real value until they contain functions and features not possible with paper journals, e.g. linking, search for 'more like this' etc

5.4 Users will print articles rather than read them on line.

5.5 Users will engage in open-ended browsing much more than planned structured searches.

5.6 Timeliness and therefore rapid access to current journals will be important in the sciences whereas the archive and therefore electronic access to the backlist will be important in the humanities.

5.7 Relevant alerting services will serve to reinforce regular usage.

5.8 Users need positive satisfaction from their first use of the application in order to come back and use it again, e.g. find a relevant article.

5.10 Presentation standards, up to the level of paper journals, will be necessary for users to take the quality of service seriously.

5.11 Usage will be greater in those subjects where publication is more frequent.

5.12 Users prefer to view articles in a screen-oriented display, e.g. HTML, but to print in a paper-oriented display, e.g. PDF.

5.13 Users need to see an abstract in order to decide to view the article. They are unlikely to go direct from the title to the PDF in cases where there is no abstract because there may be penalties e.g. time to view, costs etc.

5.14 Users will seek to avoid installing new software. In the sciences this may be less of a barrier than in the humanities because of familiarity with the process and the likelihood of existing use/reuse compared to humanities.

5.15 Users will stick to one search engine even if another search engine provides a better match to the needs of a particular task.

6. Changing patterns of behaviour

Assessment: Patterns of usage over a period of time

6.1 Users will inform colleagues and there will be a continuous process of new registrations even when there is no promotion and an increasing number of requests from other universities.

6.2 Use of the four clusters will gradually spread across most of the University sites (limited by the subject coverage of the University sites).

6.3 The ease of looking across journals in a cluster will encourage browsing, and users will develop an understanding of journals not previously studied (and start using them).


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Last modified: February 09, 1998