One thing that kind of bugs me is that people answer the question “what impact has your funding had" with things like “I hired 3 postdocs and 2 support staff.” Dr Lane talked about this at the workshop, but to some extent, I don’t think her solution actually got at the bigger problem: societal impact. How has your research – done with our money – made the world a better place (maybe it hasn’t, but that’s ok, too). In the last post I mentioned a way I think we could start to learn more about how much scientific articles were taken up in the general media. This is at least opportunity for public engagement if not actually making the world a better place.
Another thing from the workshop – that I and others keep coming back to is the strikingly different behavior of the Google user vs. the astronomer user of ADS. Kurtz mentioned that Springer has something like
6090% of their hits from Google. I suspect IEEE and maybe ScienceDirect are about at that level, too. So I’d like to see (or be pointed at, if it already exists) a study that clusters and names behavior types of users of these Google-able science digital libraries.
- How much traffic comes from Google? Of that traffic, what % are from recognized IPs; that is, those institutions that subscribe to this platform or have at least registered with the platform?
- Based on the activities, actions, clicks, time…. can the users be clustered? Can these clusters be named? Of these named clusters, can we identify k-12 students? k-12 teachers? undergrads? scientists outside of the specialty targeted by the system (like physicists visiting ADS, astronomers using SPIRES)?
- Can these clusters, and their frequency of occurrence and behaviors be used to describe or better understand the impact of this system, and the scientific knowledge held by it on the broader public?
Update: Michael Kurtz corrected me that 90% of Springer’s traffic comes from Google. He also suggests some places to look for studies of this type. (thanks!)