Log usage analysis: What it discloses about use, information seeking and trustworthiness

David Nicholas, David Clark, Hamid R. Jamali, Anthony Watkinson

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The Trust and Authority in Scholarly Communications in the Light of the Digital Transition research project1) was a study which investigated the behaviours and attitudes of academic researchers as producers and consumers of scholarly information resources in respect to how they determine authority and trustworthiness. The research questions for the study arose out of CIBER’s studies of the virtual scholar. This paper focuses on elements of this study, mainly an analysis of a scholarly publisher’s usage logs, which was undertaken at the start of the project in order to build an evidence base, which would help calibrate the main methodological tools used by the project: interviews and questionnaire. The specific purpose of the log study was to identify and assess the digital usage behaviours that potentially raise trustworthiness and authority questions. Results from the self-report part of the study were additionally used to explain the logs. The main findings were that: 1) logs provide a good indicator of use and information seeking behaviour, albeit in respect to just a part of the information seeking journey; 2) the ‘lite’ form of information seeking behaviour observed in the logs is a sign of users trying to make their mind up in the face of a tsunami of information as to what is relevant and to be trusted; 3) Google and Google Scholar are the discovery platforms of choice for academic researchers, which partly points to the fact that they are influenced in what they use and read by ease of access; 4) usage is not a suitable proxy for quality. The paper also provides contextual data from CIBER’s previous studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-37
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Knowledge Content Development & Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


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