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UKSG to fund investigation into new usage-based measure of journal quality


Sent on behalf of the United Kingdom Serials Group

UKSG to fund investigation into new usage-based measure of 
journal quality

The United Kingdom Serials Group (UKSG), in association with the 
online usage metrics organisation COUNTER, today announced its 
intention to fund a study which will explore how online journal 
usage statistics might form the basis of a new metric of journal 

The widespread and growing adherence by journal publishers to the 
COUNTER Code of Practice has increased the credibility of usage 
statistics as a reliable measure of the comparative use of 
journals. What usage statistics do not currently do is provide a 
comparative measure of journal quality or value. All other things 
being equal, a journal publishing 2000 articles a year will 
generate significantly more downloads than one publishing 50. 
Elaborating on the dilemma this causes, Terry Bucknell, 
Electronic Resources Manager at Liverpool University pointed out, 
"If I was guided solely by usage statistics, I would cancel all 
my subscriptions to humanities journals, which tend to publish 
far fewer issues per year than the monster science titles".

The initiative launched today by the UKSG sets out to see if it 
will be practical to address this situation in a way similar to 
the way ISI's Impact Factor seeks to compensate for the fact that 
larger journals will tend to be cited more than smaller ones.

Will this initiative succeed? The UKSG's Chair, Keith Courtney, 
is optimistic. "The basic building blocks - COUNTER-compliant 
usage reports - are already in place", he explained. "What the 
research which we are sponsoring will do will be to investigate 
practical issues - what work would have to be conducted, what 
information sources tapped, and what infrastructure set up, so 
that some kind of usage based ratio - a 'Usage Factor' if you 
like - can be developed and then regularly calculated and 

For further information about this initiative contact in the 
first instance Alison Whitehorn, UKSG Business Manager - 
alison@uksg.org or tel 01635 254292.

It is the intention of UKSG to put this study out to competitive 
tender and full details, including the ITT itself, can be found 
on the UKSG web site at <http://www.uksg.org/rfp.pdf>

About the UK Serials Group

The UK Serials Group (UKSG) [www.uksg.org] exists to encourage 
the exchange of ideas on printed and electronic serials and the 
process of scholarly communication. With a membership of nearly 
600 organisations, a third of them based outside the UK, its 
membership embraces the complete spectrum of activity from 
serials producers to readers via agents, online hosts, libraries 
and their system providers.


COUNTER (Counting Online Usage of NeTworked Electronic Resources) 
<http://www.projectcounter.org/> is a multi-agency initiative 
which develops and maintains a set of internationally accepted 
Codes of Practice that allow the usage of online information 
products and services to be measured in a credible, consistent 
and compatible way.  Release 1 of the COUNTER Code of Practice 
for journals and databases was published in January 2003 and has 
been widely implemented. Release 2 was published in April 2005 
and replaced Release 1 from January 2006. COUNTER is actively 
supported by the international community of librarians and 
publishers, and by their professional organisations.