We were recently asked by the JISC to provide evidence of the impact and take-up of the outputs of the JISC PoWR project – with the email acknowledging that “I know this is difficult data to collect and define“.
We were able to provide a number of examples of how the outputs of this work have been embedded elsewhere (for example the JISC PoWR Guide to Web Preservation is included in the course materials for the Digital Preservation Training Programme (DPTP). But what other approaches can be used to respond to the request we received: “Has anyone written to you about it? Have you got download stats? Do you know if it has been referenced? Has it popped up in courses or training material?“
Something we did do was to look at the usage statistics for the slides hosted on Slideshare which were used when a paper on “Preservation of Web Resources: The JISC PoWR Project” was presented at the iPres 2008 conference. We found that there had been 1,791 views of the slides, and they had been favourited twice and embedded in five other Web pages. We were also able to follow the links available in Slideshare and find that the slides have been embedded in a blog post on a Dutch blog and favourited by Ingmar Koch, Archiefinspecteur at Provincie Noord-Braban and TondeLooijer at Brabants Historisch Informatie Centrum (BHIC). Reading the blog post I find, using Google Translate, the comment which precedes the embedding of the slide:
And finally, a presentation from Brian Kelly on-site archiving. (Coincidentally, that is particularly timely now in my own organization, hence my interest).
Here we have anecdotal evidence of interest in our work in Holland – as well as the Dutch blogger highlighting our work to a Dutch readership we would not otherwise be able to reach.
The paper itself is available in the University of Bath Opus repository and looking at the usage statistics we can see that there have been 58 downloads of the paper. However the paper can’t be embedded elsewhere and so we can’t find further evidence of how the paper may be being used.
In addition whilst the slides in this case have a close relationship with the accompanying paper, the majority of the presentations given at JISC PoWR workshops were used on their own, without an accompanying paper for which usage and citation analysis may help to provide a proxy indicator of impact. For example the slides on a talk on “Records Management vs. Web Management: Beyond the Stereotypes” are also hosted on Slideshare – and in this case have been viewed 2,848 times.
If these slides had been hosted only on our Web site we would not have been able to gather such data or follow links. Should use of Slideshare (or similar services) be mandated in order that evidence can more easily be gathered, I wonder? Probably not, as this doesn’t fit well with the culture in higher education. Perhaps, then, the question should be “Isn’t it foolish not to use a service like Slideshare in order to make it easier to provide evidence which might provide indications of successful outreach and embedding of project activities?” I should add that my colleague Marieke Guy and I spent received the request on Wednesday morning and finalised our response shortly after lunch – so suggestions of alternative approaches should be able to be implemented in a couple of hours!