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Report: Web Stats Task Force

Publicity statement for the work of the Web Statistics Task Force:
The Web Statistics Task Force grew out of a discussion, at the first JSTOR
Users Group meeting in Washington DC at the 1997 ALA Midwinter Meeting,
regarding the need for meaningful statistics for Web-based information
resources.  In that discussion, it was agreed that there was a need to
develop a core set of useful data elements and models for measuring and
evaluating use of information resources available via the Internet.  A
core set of standard measurements is vital for the solid management of
library collections, services, and budgets.   As libraries rely
increasingly on access to externally-provided services for information
resources, standardization of the type of statistics provided by service
providers is essential.

At that first discussion, David Farrell (Berkeley) called for volunteers
for a Task Force to address these issues.  Those volunteers formed the
core of the group, supplemented by a couple of others, and work began in
the Spring of 1997.  JSTOR provided technical support, as well as an
ex-officio member on the Task force.

The specific charge of the Task Force was to:
 	--Identify units of measurement
	--Explore the capability of vendors and systems for Web-based
		products to record and measure use
	--Devise analytical models and reports formats for evaluating and
		applying use measurements
The Task Force worked directly with JSTOR to assist in the development of
use measurement and reporting capabilities for JSTOR's archival database.
The Task Force's work also addressed other Web-based  information
resources to which use measurement might be applied.  Examples of these
would include services such as Encyclopedia Britannica, Project MUSE,
SilverPlatter, and commercial and society publishers with full-text
journal offerings on the web. 

The following is the latest version of the elements which the Web
Statistics Task Force has developed.  They have been presented to
information providers and other colleagues for suggestions, many of which
have been incorporated.  The Task Force considers elements marked "*" to
be fundamental.
EconLit and the A&I portion of a mixed database such as ABI/Inform) & FULL
TEXT DATABASES (e.g., reference works like Britannica Online and journal
providers like AP/IDEAL and JSTOR)
	*A-1. Number of queries (SEARCHES)
			By database
			By IP address/locator (to subnet level)
	**OR, if Number of Queries is NOT available**: 

	*A-2. Number of sessions (LOGINS)
	B. Number of turnaways due to contract limits (e.g., requests
	exceed simultaneous user limit)

	C. Number of items examined (marked or selected, downloaded,
	emailed, printed)
		*citations (for A&I databases) OR
		journals (for fulltext databases), broken down by title as
			 Tables of Contents
			*Articles (or essays, poems, chapters, etc., as
			 Other (image/AV files, ads, reviews, etc.), as
	D. Usage levels, per time period
			*Hours of use for Queries, Sessions, Turnaways
				By day, month, year
				By time of day
			*Peak simultaneous use, as appropriate
			 Total hours of server downtime by month, as
Statistics should reflect usage from a service provider's main and mirror

The Task Force would not request statistical reports or data that reveal
confidential information about our users.  One concern is whether
confidentiality in a particular system will be protected by keeping IP
address monitoring to the subnet level.  Are there other areas of
potential violation of confidentiality?
The Task Force would like to see comparative statistics that will give us
a context in which to analyze statistics for our own institutions.  A
grouping for purpose of comparison might be compiled by the resource
provider (e.g., stats from an anonymous selection of institutions similar
to our own), or it might be a grouping that could be composed on demand
(e.g., stats from all campuses in the UC consortium, presented either
anonymously or not, as desired by the participating institutions).

The Task Force believes access to statistics should be kept confidential
if a  participant so desires.  We prefer access to be restricted by IP
address; if access to statistics is linked from a provider's home page, a
form of security such as passwords should be provided.  Institutions
should be able to allow access to their data by other institutions if they
The Task Force prefers that providers maintain access to statistical data
through their website (updated monthly) which a participant can access,
aggregate and manipulate on demand.  When appropriate, statistical data
should be available in a graphical display in addition to a tabular form
that can be downloaded and manipulated locally.


The Task Force sent this initial set of data elements to a limited number
of service providers for reaction and input.  As a result, we have been in
correspondence with Encyclopedia Britannica, SilverPlatter, Project Muse,
Academic Press, and Ovid Technologies.  The Task Force inquired as to
progress on statistical reports, solicited feedback on our suggested list
of data elements,  and offered support in the testing and development of
their statistical packages.  Reaction so far has been positive and the
group looks forward to continuing discussion with these vendors and

As noted earlier, one of the initial goals of the Task Force was to work
with JSTOR in the development of a statistical reporting package.  JSTOR
has been involved in our discussion of key elements throughout the group's
work and so was well aware of the library community's list of desiderata.
In the last few weeks, the Task Force has served as a testing group for
JSTOR's prototype statistical reporting system; that work continues.  

The Task Force's initial list of "Web-based Statistical Measures of
Resource Usage" has been circulated on the liblicense-l listserv.  Several
consortia have expressed interest in the work of the group as well as
offering feedback.  Our next steps will be to contact additional web-based
resource providers and to urge consortia to take these considerations into
account in their next round of negotiations with resource providers.  The
work of the Task Force will be presented at the JSTOR Participants Meeting
in January, at the third Consortium of Consortia Meeting in February, and
at the Physics Roundtable of the Special Libraries Association Conference
and at the NASIG (North American Serials Interest Group) meeting in June. 

The Task Force welcomes suggestions and further ideas.  Comments may be
sent to

David Farrell, Berkeley, Chair
Jim Mullins, Villanova
Kimberly Parker, Yale
Dave Perkins, CSU-Northridge
Sue Phillips, Texas
Camille Wanat, Berkeley
Kristen Garlock, JSTOR, ex-officio
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