The Instruction and Outreach Department manages and coordinates library research instruction for students, faculty and staff through course-related workshops, outreach activities, personal consultations, research guides and other instructional materials.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

An embarrassment of riches or two essential tools?

Duke is fortunate enough to have had site licenses for two citation management software tools -- EndNote and RefWorks -- for the last two years. Duke spends a decent amount to provide access to both tools for all faculty, students and staff.  What exactly are we paying for?  What kind of traffic are EndNote and RefWorks seeing?

EndNote traffic is difficult to track, as users download it to their personal machines and work with their libraries offline (unless they happen to open EndNote Web accounts). We do know, however, that EndNote has been downloaded 6,977 times this fiscal year (July 1, 2009 to present).  It is worth noting that a single user my download the software to as many computers as he or she likes, so estimated number of users is actually over 11,700.  And the number of questions we get about it both at the Libraries and through the Office of Information Technology underscores the fact that Duke users are certainly doing more than simply downloading the piece of software.

Because RefWorks is web-based, we can get a slightly better picture of both who is opening RefWorks accounts and how they are using the application.

Since Duke initiated its RefWorks license in July 2008, 3,125 users have opened RefWorks accounts and downloaded 117,238 references to their personal accounts.  Undergraduates make up the majority of RefWorks users with 2,140 accounts.  Graduate students follow with 538 accounts, and faculty have opened a total of 140 accounts.  Other users include librarians, alumni, staff and researchers.  RefWorks averages about 119 new users per month, and we've seen a 23% increase in our user pool since the end of the Fall 2009 semester. 

As you might imagine, traffic to RefWorks is highest during the core months of the fall and spring semesters (September through November and February through April, respectively), with the highest number of total monthly users in October 2009 (with 492 users) and March 2010 (456 users). Average number of sessions per user per month topped out in October 2009 with an impressive 12.4 RefWorks sessions per user, on average.  Over the course of the year, the average number of sessions per user per month was 4.6.

We've compared these numbers to usage stats at some of our peer institutions who also subscribe to RefWorks, including UNC, UVA, Yale, Johns Hopkins and Cornell.  We fall right in line with our peers in terms of average sessions per month per user and average number of new users per month (adjusting for differences in full-time enrollment).   

Librarians continue to market RefWorks each fall and offer training sessions as part of the course-integrated research instruction they do for undergraduates and graduate students.  They also maintain a support page; field questions at the reference desk and through instant message; and help students, faculty and staff through one-on-one consultation.  

RefWorks is wrapping up its second year of a three-year trial period at Duke. The members of the university's site license committee are beginning to think critically about whether or not it is fiscally responsible to continue to fund both EndNote and RefWorks on a site-wide basis.  What are your thoughts?   Should Duke continue to make both options available at no cost to users?

And I can't mention RefWorks and EndNote without also giving a nod to Zotero, which Diane blogged about in April. Want to know more about how the three tools compare?  Check out the Libraries' Citation Tool Comparison chart.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps I'm not thinking about this right, but wouldn't the number of downloads *overestimate* the number of users, if a given user had a copy on their desktop and laptop, for example?

    Also, would you consider adding Mendeley to the comparison chart? With over 375000 users, including hundreds at Duke, it's one to keep an eye on.