Full text available/Full text downloads

Exploring trends...

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.


A graph showing downloads from the Kent Academic Repository from August 2016 to July 2019. Downloads vary between 40-60,000 (with an outlying spike of 100,000 in Feb 2018) until Feb 2019 when they increase to around 120,000
Downloads from the Kent Academic Repository from August 2016 to July 2019


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


A graph showing the number of items with full text available from the Kent Academic Repository from August 2016 to July 2019. The graph increases steadily at around 1200/year
Items with full text available to access on KAR over time.


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:

A graph combining the full text available and downloads
The trend line for downloads maps more closely to the full text available, but we are interested in whether this continues.

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