Researchers use a considerable amount of effort and time to find information sources. A discovery tool that locates and discovers a wide variety of information sources that can be relevant for their research is priceless for them. But how big is the impact of discovery technologies and solutions on academic content usage? The truth is that even though local implementation decisions at each institution may interfere in usage, Research Discovery Services (RDS) appear to influence them, especially when it comes to e-books.
Discovery research systems play an important role in academic libraries, allowing researchers and students to find access to high-quality content in a more intuitive and accurate way. It changes the way resources are searched: an entire collection can be scrutinized through a single search box. Journal articles, books (or single book chapters), datasets, gray literature, papers, and many other sources can thus be integrated in a single search.
A Palpable Improvement
Before RDS, users had to independently search individual resources. That means that they had to spend some time searching on databases, e-books platforms, or newspapers collections one by one. Disadvantages related to these procedures were not only a matter of time but also of difficulty; database research systems often work differently, which is why researchers had to spend a considerable amount of time and patience just to get used to all of them.
The possibility of having several kinds of sources available through a single search box is as practical and attractive for researchers. However, there is still much to do to improve research systems for academic usage, and there are several initiatives for it. Many of them consider the perceptions of the impact of RDS on content usage to better understand what students and researchers need and expect while searching for information.
Focusing on Online Journal Usage
The study “Discovery or Displacement?: a large-scale longitudinal study of the effect of discovery systems on online journal usage,” conducted by Michael Levine-Clark from the University of Denver and John McDonald from the University of Southern California, focused on whether implementing a discovery tool within a library increases the usage of content. They confirmed among many other things that discovery tools actually had an impact on usage in several libraries, and that journal usage at Summon and Primo institutions increased more than it did with other services.