Statistics on Downloads for the University of Bath Institutional Repository
The University of Bath is currently testing the IR Stats package in Opus, the University’s institutional repository. Using the Web interface to the package I ran a search for the top ten downloads over the past year. The results are shown below -and, as you can see, a paper on “Library 2.0: balancing the risks and benefits to maximise the dividends” by myself, Paul Bevan, Richard Akerman, Jo Alcock and Josie Fraser is in second place! You’ll have to scroll on beneath the image to discover the secrets of how to ensure that your research paper gets into the top ten for your institutional repository :-)
Seeking An Explanation
On 11 August 2009 I wrote a blog post in which I described how my Paper on “Library 2.0: Balancing the Risks and Benefits to Maximise the Dividends” [had been] Published in Program.
Now looking at the blog statistics for visits to the post I discover that there have been a total of 735 views (with 162 on the day of publication ).
Since the blog post linked directly to the details of the paper provided in the institutional repository I believe that many of the visits to the blog post resulted in downloads of the paper in the repository – and so it was a direct result of having a blog and writing a timely post about the paper which resulted in the paper being the second most downloaded paper last year.
Do I have any further evidence to back up this assertion? It would have been interesting to see it a tweet about the post had generated traffic to the article but, having looked at the archive of my tweets in BackUpMyTweets it seems I didn’t use Twitter on the day the post was published. It also seems that a bit.ly URL for the post hadn’t been minted previously, so unfortunately there are no bit.ly statistics to examine.
However looking at the download statistics over the past year for my other items in the repository this particular item stands out for its popularity – and so I will assert that the timely blog post linking to the repository item generated over thirty times the normal annual traffic to one of my papers.
Looking at the search engine statistics for all of my items over the period I discover than 80% of the traffic is not delivered by a search engine (the red quadrant in the pie chart).
Using the display of referring traffic to my items confirms that search engines aren’t significant in providing traffic (20%) and the repository search itself only that only delivers 10% of the traffic. Rather it is external Web sites (i.e. my blog, I believe) which delivers 39% of the traffic with 31% of the traffic having no referred information (I have found this is often traffic from Twitter clients but in this case in may be traffic coming from RSS readers used to view the post).
Of course the large number of downloads is no indication of the quality of the paper. And it might be that the paper was downloaded by an automated agent (perhaps someone was retrieving papers on Library 2.0 and the harvester repeatedly downloaded this paper). Or, alternatively, maybe the statistics package is producing incorrect results.
But, unless I come across alternative evidence, I will regard the popularity of this item as an indication that blog posts can have a significant impact on the traffic to items in an institutional repository. Note that I am not saying that blogs are the only significant factor – my UKOLN colleague Alex Ball and Andy Ramsden, head of the e-learning team (both of whom work on the same corridor as me) also figure in the top ten downloads. In their case I think embedding links to their Opus items in external Web sites helps to drive traffic.
However, especially for those working in areas in which there are significant numbers of blog readers, having a blog and using it effectively may provide the researcher with an advantage in raising awareness of their research.
Would you agree?