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How students (and faculty) really find articles

In January we started piloting the Wiley pay-per-view option. Based on our usage stats and other schools’ usage stats, we bought tokens that would get us through the calendar year, after which we would reassess. Sounded like a plan!

Due to several unforeseen factors, we didn’t turn on the pay-per-view access in our link resolver. Seemed like a tiny bump in the road. Our real pilot would be delayed a couple of weeks. No biggie.

However, in those first two weeks, we went through over a quarter of the tokens we’d purchased, tokens that were supposed to last us a full calendar year. Apparently Google, Google Scholar, and the DOIs in scientific citation styles lead enough students to the Wiley publisher website version of these articles that going purely pay-per-view would crush our serials budget.

And it’s not just the students. The last 2-3 years, one of the main themes to the questions at new faculty orientation has been how to get to the full text from Google or Google Scholar.

Now, if you’re like me, none of this is particularly surprising. It’s just the first time I’ve seen it quantified in budget form. But it’s left me wondering if our to-be-configured discovery system will make a dent, and what Google plans to do with Google Scholar anyway now that the redesign (rolling out slowly to different people) removes Scholar from the “more” menue. And I wonder about the future of aggregator databases and of our budgetary structures. Not that I think databases are “dead” or anything, but I do think that Academic Search Premier does not now serve the function it served even just a few years ago, so it and it’s ilk will inevitably change focus or fade.

Published inRandom Thoughts


  1. I suspect this is part of why EBSCO bought H.W. Wilson — they have a deserved reputation for abstracting and indexing. EBSCO might be able to build better search interfaces and negotiate for full-text content, but that won’t matter as much if the only way the content is found is through keyword searches of the text. Indexes, abstracts, author keywords, and thesauri are much better tools for determining relevancy, and these days, relevancy is king.

  2. Aaron Tay Aaron Tay

    Yes not surprising at all. Had the same thoughts about discovery, which we are launching as well. That’s why I favored a discovery solution that was seen by users to be very close to google scholar/google interface wise as opposed to another more libraryish solution. Even that might not be enough but we shall see.

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