More than 36,000 e-journal titles are listed on our A-to-Z, but student and staff interest is not spread equally between those titles.
Plotting a graph of the individual usage of each title shows a sharp ‘spike’ of concentrated use within a very small number of titles, and a very long tail of thousands of titles which are barely used, if at all. In fact, as a raw graph it’s almost impossible to read, as all the action takes place at the extreme right-hand edge (click the image for bigger):
Some comparisons to put the distribution of usage into context:
A single title—the British Journal of Social Work—is responsible for 5% of all of our e-journal hits via the A-to-Z (5,185 hits in the last year). This is fairly remarkable in itself. What’s the secret there?
Anyway, imagine that this one e-journal (0.0027% of the total number of titles) is represented by the area of the West Common in Lincoln: about 100 hectares. Remember that 5% of all our A-to-Z usage is here.
The next 10% of A-to-Z usage can be accounted for by just 14 titles. If one title is the Lincoln West Common, then 14 cover an area about the size of the London Borough of Islington (or Windermere, if you prefer): approx. 6 square miles. These 14 titles each receive between 500 and 5,000 hits/year.
(Scale outline maps reproduced from Ordnance Survey map data by permission of the Ordnance Survey © Crown copyright 2001.)
The next 366 titles get fewer than 500 hits/year (39% of total usage) They tot up to just a bit bigger than Rutland, the smallest county in England (not counting the made-up counties), at 147 square miles.
We’re getting in to the beginning of the long tail now: 2,365 titles (the East Riding, including Hull, pushing 1,000 square miles), with 50 hits/year or fewer - this represents the next 34% of usage.
And 6,122 titles; 5 hits/year or fewer; south of the river to Lincolnshire, at 2,687 square miles the second-largest English county. Just 12% of our total A-to-Z usage from 17% of our titles.
Finally, 75% of all our e-journals - 27,745 titles in total – are never used via the A-to-Z.
That’s zero A-to-Z hits in the last year, although it’s quite possible they’ve been accessed via the native database or publisher interface, or through tools such as Google Scholar. To represent those 27,745 unused titles at the same scale, we’d have to use…
…Belgium, which won’t fit on this page.
Imagine that: a medium-sized European country full of e-journals, and none of them used. Quel dommage! Or, if you prefer, Een welk medelijden*.
*Reckons Babelfish. I don’t speak Flemish.