What does reader behaviour tell us about the way we discover content?

By Katie Baker, UK PR Team

‘Discoverability’ has become a big buzz word in our industry over the past few years. In order to ensure that texts are discoverable and authors are correctly supported in the dissemination of their research, it is paramount that we understand and monitor the habits of researchers.  As an international publisher of global content, we are committed to supporting the changing needs of the scholarly community. Therefore, when we were approached 6 months ago by Renew Training in regards to their research study “How Readers Discover Content in Scholarly Journals”, we were delighted to take part.

The report, produced by Tracy Gardner and Simon Inger, forms their third annual report into reader habits and journal content discovery. Collating feedback from over 19,000 global responses, the report provides a detailed insight into how readers in different sectors, regions, subject areas and job roles behave. The results offer valuable information for the respective impact on publisher website and design function.

Focusing on three main forms of reader behaviour with respect to journal citation searching, core journal browsing and subject searching, the report outlines the shifts in reader’s preferences (including search engine preference), reader navigation patterns, the features that readers find useful in publisher websites and the role and effectiveness of library technologies and app use.

This year’s results showed that readers of online journals have become much savvier about information discovery. Whilst publisher’s website and web pages managed by key research groups have grown in importance, and the investment in library technology has had a positive impact on the use of library web pages in searches, results clearly demonstrated that publishers need to keep a multitude of navigational paths open to their reader and support a number of conceivable routes to content through the web. As Tracy Gardner states:

This report informs publishers, libraries, intermediaries and academics which resources the world’s consumers prefer to use to discover scholarly content. As the results demonstrate, publishers need to keep a multitude of navigational paths open to their reader, as the relative importance of all of these paths vary from subject to subject, region to region and by job function. Publishers continue to remain under pressure to ensure that they engage with content buyers, editorial boards and authors. The results of this report provide invaluable evidence to aid conversations and help inform strategies.

The summary report can be downloaded for free here, and the full data set and analytical tool are also available for purchase here.

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