Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Bring on the IRs!

Having been alerted to the existence of statistical tools for measuring usage of articles deposited in a number of Institutional Repositories, I have collected some very encouraging statistics about how IRs are being used in developing countries.

The number of IRs using this software (developed at the University of Tasmania) is limited at present, but the following sites are among those I found that record usage by date and by country:

- University of Otago eprints Repository, New Zealand:
http://eprints.otago.ac.nz/es/

- University of Strathclyde, UK:
http://eprints.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/es/index.php?action=cumulative_usage_country

- African Higher Education Research Online:
http://ahero.uwc.ac.za/index.php?module=cshe&action=statistics&view=country

- Rhodes eprints repository:
http://eprints.ru.ac.za/es/index.php?action=cumulative_usage_country

- E-LIS Repository: http://eprints.rclis.org/stat/bycountry.html

As some examples in the table below show, the full text download usage by developing countries was very encouraging indeed. India, China, Brazil, South Africa are among the busiest user-countries, and the less scientifically advanced countries are almost all represented as you go down the usage table.

Institutional Repository

University of Otago,
based in
New Zealand

University of Strathclyde,

based in the UK

Rhodes e-Research, based in South Africa

E-LIS,

based in Italy

Period of usage

2007

2007

2007

?

Number of records in repository

666

5052

808

7525

Full text downloads

From Canada

2977

2070

10413

20934

China

4673

1649

10196

22879

India

5022

1032

27609

33125

South Africa

1029

175

120598

5556

UK

8926

12664

25392

63362

USA

16830

44270

145356

1415807

. . . .and on to several hundred other countries





Encouraged, I searched other IRs and found the same story unfolding. Multiply the number of registered IRs (> 1000) by the usage figures and you can see that developing countries are using IRs a lot! Usage will vary substantially depending on the nature of the deposited content and the working practices of different disciplines, but it is very encouraging to see how IRs are closing the N to S, S to N and S to S information gaps that we used to talk about. The low-cost nature of establishing IRs allows institutes in economically constrained countries to be part of the global research community, readily using and exchanging essential information.

The wealth of information available from the statistics at these IRs raises the hope that with time all will do so. Not only do these statistics provide a true record of the need for the research information deposited, but they even provide information on the specific research that scholars are searching, an invaluable insight into priorities for development programmes. And of course, authors will be greatly encouraged to witness usage figures of their published research, and institutes will be happy to see their organisations high on the research map.

We can earnestly hope that someone – soon – will carry out an authoritative study on the usage of IR material. This would be a magnificent contribution of value to many sectors. Perhaps someone is …?.

1 comment:

McDawg said...

Many congratulations EPT for carrying out this, as you say, most encouraging analysis about the use of IR's.

I deem it entirely appropriate to place a link to this blog post in a comment on the Repository66.org blog. I'll get straight onto this.

Bring on the IRs ? ABSOLUTELY !