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Distributed Usage Logging: a report on stakeholder demand

Executive Summary

Distributed Usage Logging (DUL) allows publishers to capture traditional usage activity related to their content that happens on sites other than their own so they can provide reports of “total usage” regardless of where that usage happens. In order to gather stakeholder views on how useful DUL usage statistics would be to them, Information Power Ltd (IPL) held a face-to-face focus group for librarians and ran both an international webinar and an online survey which included publishers. Findings from these activities indicated that stakeholder demand for distributed usage logging (DUL) differed depending upon whether the participants were considering the issues as a provider or user of content.

Regarding academic sharing networks, librarians generally discouraged their use because of the following concerns:

  • copyright issues
  • reduction of impact by having multiple copies across many sites
  • Research Excellence Framework (REF) Open Access (OA) Policy insisting that articles must be in the institutional repository (IR) in order to count towards the REF

Publishers indicated that they accept the use of social networks, but noted that it does impact on usage, hence the need for DUL usage statistics to demonstrate the value of the journal and provide a complete picture. They also agreed that these statistics would be helpful in understanding who recommends a particular author. Society publishers were very interested in DUL usage statistics as they would provide country level and article level data.

In terms of altmetrics, libraries and consortia were interested in these statistics but noted that they are not useful for collection management/ development decisions; however, they can be used for supporting faculty authors. From a consortium perspective, altmetrics are useful background information to understand academic engagement.

It was generally agreed that the multiple models for OA and freely available content would be simplified by standard usage reports and these would help in the implementation of OA policy. With the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) REF policy being picked up by more researchers, comparisons of green OA versus journal subscriptions will become more important.

Some publishers already have to keep track of OA usage as some customers have agreements where the licence fee and the OA publication fees are covered in the same deal.

Given that any COUNTER report can only work with items that have a DOI, there was strong support for all content to have a DOI and it was felt that IRs should be minting them for items that do not have them. The issue of a different price for DOIs used by libraries and IRs was also raised.

Overall, participants in the focus group, webinar and online survey were highly engaged and interested in going beyond just counts of usage to meaningful data on the way users are engaging with the content. Providers of content (whether publishers or IR managers) are generally keen to see DUL data reported.  They want to know and report to consumers and societies about all instances of usage, on their own platforms, social networking sites and IRs. This would provide information about the relative importance of all players [and all versions] in the total usage picture.


Please download the full Distributed Usage Logging report on stakeholder demand.

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