Simon Fraser University
Rowland Lorimer is the Founding Editor of Scholarly and Research Communication and Professor Emeritus at the CISP Journal Services, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background This technical report contains written versions of the spoken narration that accompanies five slide-based videos providing instruction on and reviewing the analysis generated by software developed by the Canadian Association of Learned Journals Readership Analytics Project.
Analysis First come usage instructions. The second and third videos offer a case study-based summary of the Standard and Premium reports. Fourth is a multi-year analysis of the case-study data. Fifth are some observations and insights.
Observations and insights The data provide a foundation for a detailed understanding of journal usage. The specific case-study data (of the Canadian Journal of Communication) brings forward an extensive set of findings, including ongoing growth in usage in an environment of declining library subscriptions, the widespread use of articles published throughout the 40-plus years of operation, and a clear predominance of HTML usage over PDF usage.
Keywords Journal metrics; Online journal usage; Journal publishing; Open access; Data visualization; Scholarly Communication
Contexte Ce rapport technique contient des transpositions écrites de la narration accompagnant cinq diaporamas. Ces derniers portent sur une analyse réalisée grâce à un logiciel développé dans le cadre du Projet d’analyse de lectorat de l’Association canadienne des revues savantes.
Analyse Le premier diaporama offre un mode d’emploi. Les deuxième et troisième se fondent sur une étude de cas pour résumer les rapports standard et détaillé du Projet. Le quatrième présente une analyse pluriannuelle des données provenant de l’étude de cas. Le cinquième comporte certaines observations et certains constats pertinents.
Observations et constats Les données recueillies permettent d’atteindre une compréhension approfondie de l’utilisation des revues. Quant aux données spécifiques provenant d’une étude de cas sur le Journal canadien de la communication, elles sont très révélatrices, démontrant : une utilisation croissante de la revue dans un contexte où de moins en moins de bibliothèques s’y abonnent; une consultation importante de la part du public d’articles parus tout au long des quarante années d’existence de la revue; et un recours à des documents HTML plutôt que PDF.
Mots Clés Mesures de revues; Utilisation de revues en ligne; Édition de revues; Libre accès; Visualisation de données; Communication érudite
In a digital environment, and especially with the growth of open access, article and journal usage metrics take on increased importance. Journals associated with large commercial enterprises tend to appear in one location on the internet and, in pursuit of assessing journal performance and strategic planning, their publishers collect and analyze proprietary usage data. In contrast, smaller journals tend to appear in a variety of locations, including their own website and the websites of various aggregators or platforms. Customarily, online usage in each location is tracked in log files, and it is most often made available to journals in spreadsheet form. In some cases, accessing valid and reliable data for, say, annual usage, is difficult. Also, smaller journals often lack the staff time and expertise to pay much attention to usage data, let alone determine its validity and reliability. It is even further beyond the resources of small journals to combine the various data sets from each internet location into a meaningful whole.
The Canadian Association of Learned Journals Readership Analytics Project (CALJ-RAP) was designed to assist its members, most of which are small, independent titles, in addressing these realities. By addressing the needs of the group, it was designed to take advantage of the economies of scale in accomplishing three tasks. First was to ensure the data were valid and reliable. Second was to convert the data from spreadsheet form to meaningful figures and tables. Third was to present the data to users in both combined and separated formats, that is to say, from each internet location and from all locations combined.
The beta format of CALJ-RAP is now available to journals and includes data from Open Journal Systems (OJS) software, EBSCO, ProQuest, Project Muse, and JSTOR. It is capable of handling data provided by Érudit, but Érudit is currently unable to provide usage data to its clients. Plans are afoot to add at least one more data source in the near future.
As a means of circulating instructions to potential participants and to allow journals to see the results the software generates, five short slide-based videos were made and loaded onto YouTube. This report contains the lightly edited written scripts for the narration of the slide presentations in video format.
The videos these scripts reference can be found in the following locations:
These instructions are meant for journals that have already established contact with CALJ-RAP and have received an agreed-upon user name and password for accessing the CALJ-RAP site. The sign-in page is publicly accessible and by clicking on the Data Disclaimer and User Guidelines, a journal can access instructions for making contact with the project. What follows is the script for this first video.
Welcome to the Canadian Association of Learned Journals, Readership Analytics Project (CALJ-RAP).
On the screen is the sign-in page for CALJ-RAP.
The important first step is that you read the Data Disclaimer and User Guidelines document in either French or English.
Then you can enter your agreed upon or suggested username and password with a CALJ-RAP administrator (currently, email@example.com) and move toward inputting data.
Once that is entered, a click on the Sign-in button for first-time users will take you to the Participant Form. In subsequent visits, you will bypass the form.
The Participant Form asks for five types of content:
When the form is complete, please click on Submit. This will take you to the Data Upload Tool.
The Data Upload Tool can be accessed by filling out the Upload a New Data File form at the bottom of the page—in this example, you can see an indication that the data that have been uploaded for the Canadian Journal of Communication for various years from various sources. To proceed, you enter the year of the data that you are uploading. You then select the data source from the drop-down menu. If you select OJS, for example, you then click on Submit and the software takes care of everything else. (It accesses the data from your journal’s website and inputs the data into CALJ-RAP). If you select a secondary aggregator such as EBSCO, you then search on your hard drive for the CSV file it has provided to you, select and upload that file, and click on Submit. The software then uploads the file to the system. You will see, on the right of the screen, that the word queued appears. After a while the word processing appears, and after a longer period processed appears, and the data are ready for you to view by clicking on Standard Reports (in the upper left of the screen).
That is it for data uploading. The next two videos examine the Standard and Premium reports.
This (video) presentation introduces the structure and content of the Standard Report of the Canadian Association of Learned Journals Readership Analytics Project. It does so through a case study of the Canadian Journal of Communication (CJC). The CJC is a 12-month delayed open access journal oriented primarily to Canadian communication scholarship.
Prior to the emergence of such scholarly social networking sites as ResearchGate and Academia.edu, most researchers in the social sciences and humanities and many society-run journals lived in relative ignorance of the amount of attention anyone was paying to their articles. The world was different for outstanding authors who were often cited, and in certain disciplines, the exhaustive and complete citation of previously relevant research wasde rigeur. But for many authors and disciplines, the evidence of usage was paltry.
There now exists, and CALJ-RAP provides, an integrated presentation of data from a number of well-used data sources on:
But before examining the data, here is a basic orientation. In 2018, the CJC’s website generated 80 percent of all article views. The secondary aggregator, ProQuest, added a further 14 percent. And EBSCO added on the last six percent. This gives a total number of article views of 569,623.
Does this mean that someone went to an article nearly 570,000 times and looked at the full text? No, not really. Each time that happens, it counts as at least four article views. But everyone quotes the 570,000 “article view” as the view number. And this conforms to a publisher/library coordination organization called COUNTER. Added to the 570,000, if views of titles and abstracts are included, total “content views” for the CJC in 2018 rises to more than 780,000 views.
The Premium Report delves into article performance over the four years that CJC has submitted data. The intent here is not to focus on high-performance articles but to find a way of exploring the dynamics of usage using a subset of often-accessed articles.
That is it for the annual reports produced by CALJ-RAP. Next is a multi-year analysis, i.e., the nature of viewership in 2015 through to 2018.
At this time, CALJ-RAP software does not generate a separate multi-year report. Certain items within the Standard and Premium reports do address up to five years of data. This analysis was undertaken separately by downloading data from the Standard and Premium reports for multiple years.
This concluding presentation offers some observations and tentative insights.
Whereas subscriptions have dwindled to really pitiful levels, usage is steadily climbing. The shame of this steadily increasing usage is that the predominant discourse regarding scholarly journals focuses on bringing free access in an environment in which, at least in Canada, nothing is in place to underwrite the costs of production. Complemented by weakened copyright laws, this sets the stage for either a collapse of production or institutional capture and control. Inevitably, institutional control leads down a conservative path, reflective of institutional interests. The user community worldwide, which accounts for over 750,000 content views, contributes less than five cents per full-text article view to the CJC.
Canadian Journal of Communication users read not just the most popular scholarly articles but a wide variety of them—the classic long tail of usage. This is a salutary finding, in terms of education.
Apparently, the main role of science articles seems to be to feed science. In that context, citation indexes tell an important story.
However, in social science and the humanities it appears that the predominant value of articles is their exposure to a wide population of users, including students who can gain a sense of both article content and research techniques. While citation takes place, article views by a wide range of users are much more prevalent than citation for journals such as the CJC.
Quantitative analysis, even of top articles, does not turn usage metrics into a horse race. Rather it establishes the significant contribution being made by researchers and their journals to ideas, opinions, knowledge, and understanding. Quantitative analysis also provides a valuable foundation to understand the nature of usage.
Usage patterns, when examined closely, suggest familiar profiles that help capture the dynamics of scholarly inquiry and its uptake in society. Here are some beginning examples of article profiles that suggested themselves:
This ends the initial introduction to CALJ-RAP. The value of CALJ-RAP will increase with the growing attention being paid worldwide to metrics and by its adoption and control by journals themselves rather than external agencies, which inevitably have their own interests to pursue.
Open Journal Systems, https://pkp.sfu.ca/ojs/
Project MUSE, https://muse.jhu.edu/
CISP Journal Services
Scholarly and Research Communication
Volume 10, Issue 3, Article ID 0301343, 10 pages
Journal URL: www.src-online.ca http://doi.org/10.22230/src.2019v10n3a343
Received June 17, 2019, Accepted June 17, 2019, Published July 26, 2019
Lorimer, Rowland. (2019). An Introduction to Canadian Scholarly Journal Online Usage-Analytics Software, Scholarly and Research Communication 10(3): 0301343, 10 pp.
© 2019 Rowland Lorimer. This Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/ca), which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.