Recently, we have noticed a substantial increase in downloads from our academic repository – there have historically been outlying spikes with the general trend has been an increase. There has, however, been a sustained rate of increase from March/April this year.
We have explored various theories
- Technical improvements in discoverability and interoperability, both internal and external (e.g. unpaywall)
- Increased deposits in KAR due to changes in both external (e.g. REF) and internal (e.g. promotions) policies
- Increased use of open research as standard academic practice
- As a multidisciplinary institution, we considered whether the release of the full text from embargo would affect downloads – we have seen a steady and sustained increase in items with full text available
There is nothing in the data that indicates that one factor has played a substantial role – no sudden spikes after technical updates or embargo release periods, although these will have all ultimately played a role in the increase in use of the repository as a tool to access research. This leads us to the tentative conclusion (and definitely a question for further investigation) that the use of open research, through a variety of discovery methods, is becoming more standard academic practice.
We would be very interested to see if this reflects trends at other institutions… do feel free to share in comments!
Just for interest: