Discovery or Displacement?

by | Nov 7, 2013 | 0 comments

Discovery Services Panel

Discovery Services Panel: (L-R) Michael Levine-Clark, Univeristy of Denver; John McDonald, University of Southern California; Jason Price SCELC Consortium

This panel reported on a large longitudinal study of the effect of discovery systems on online journal usage.

Many libraries have implemented discovery systems, placing a single search box on the library’s webpage.  We have told our users that was the place to start a search–a paradigm shift.  How has this affected journal usage?

The basic question:  does implementation of a discovery service impact journal usage?  This study focused on publisher-hosted journal content.  Here is how web -scale discovery tools work:

How Web-Scale Discovery  Services Work

How Web-Scale Discovery Services Work

It was assumed that the total search effort at an institution will remain approximately the same, provided the user base remains relatively constant.  The results of this assumption are:


Some previous studies have indicated substantial increases in usage after discovery implementation, and some publishers report decreases usage of their content.

The study surveyed 20 US libraries and 1 each from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.  Data were reported in aggregated form.  Discovery tools were the 4 major ones:  EDS, WorldCat Local, Summon, and Primo.  Data from 6 publishers, including over 9,000 journals, and over 140,000 usable observations.  The source of the data was library’s COUNTER reports.

General results of the study were:

General Trends

Observations from statistical analysis of the data:

  • There are usage differences across libraries and publishers.
  • Usage of all the discovery tools increased.  Primo and Summon had higher usage increases.
  • Discovery tools impact usage of different publishers differently.
  • Impact of interaction between discovery tool and publishers is significant.

Results and conclusions:





Next steps:

Next Steps

Next Steps



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