Monday, August 8, 2011

I currently have the “most read” article in the Journal of Web Librarianship… or do I?

I was tracking down and confirming a link to one of my articles* to send a colleague when I noticed a new feature on the Taylor & Francis web site; a sidebar that shows the most read and most cited articles in a journal (see the Journal of Web Librarianship most read articles page for an example).

I couldn’t find any information on how T&F are calculating this metric. I’m guessing it’s based solely on access to one of the full text formats, and doesn’t include the landing page/abstract/first page preview. I wonder if they filter out the major web crawlers. Do they count really brief views of the full-text, of, let’s say, under a minute? I’d like to know, since such quick browses are more likely a dismissal of the content than an actual “read” of it.

As you can see, I’m trying not to be too excited, because this feature could still be getting the kinks worked out of it and I could suddenly drop to the bottom of the pile. The numbers may be fairly accurate, and I could be the author of the most read** article in JWL, only to find out that means a few dozen people accessed it, and I only nudged out the articles ranked three through ten by a few readers. It’s possible that in aggregate the top ten articles only had a few hundred accesses among them, but I certainly hope that’s not the case. I’ll be up for my tenure review soon enough and I’m hoping that some of these accesses will get upgraded to citations by then.

* “Why Aren't E-Books Gaining More Ground in Academic Libraries? E-Book Use and Perceptions: A Review of Published Literature and Research.” Journal of Web Librarianship, Volume 4, Issue 4, 2010.
** Or accessed, at least, since we all know how little people read of the articles/chapters they access, both online and in print.
*** See, I linked to the landing page, not the full-text. I don’t want my own blog post to result in my hit count getting artificially augmented. Besides, I’ve got a server side app running now to hit it a few thousand times a day already. :)