Yesterday’s Numbers

A quick post this week. I write “this week” in an attempt to convince regular readers that weekly posting will continue.

I noticed that J. Cell Sci. give download metrics for their papers and that these downloads are categorised into abstract, full-text and PDF. I was interested in how one of my papers performed.

After a couple of years, this paper on mitotic microtubules is a good candidate (see previous post on it here). Here are the numbers:

Usage numbers over time

After the paper was published, interest definitely waned. There was a precipitous drop after the second month for abstract views, this declines to almost nothing after 6 months. This is not surprising as people will presumably check out the abstract after being drawn in by eTOCs, RSS or other alerts, but then this kind of interest must disappear.

Interestingly, the usage after the initial decline is a reasonably constant mix of people reading the full-text and the PDF. I was surprised that full-text gets more hits than PDF (around 40-50 last month compared to 20 or so for PDF). I hear anecdotally that PDF is the preferred reading format, but this suggests that full-text is more popular. In the case of this paper, there’s a lot of equations in it which look great on the PDF and less good as full-text. I guess no-one knows that until they click and get the paper. Obviously this is just one paper and at just one journal, but it makes me wonder what influences what readers want. Simple things like design of the page could have a huge influence here.

I’m happy that people are still reading this paper after it has been out for a while. 60 hits per month is not a lot though. The paper is freely available but I guess other people might be reading it via other sources e.g. sci-hub or EuropePMC.

The post title is taken from “Yesterday’s Numbers” by The Flamin’ Groovies.

2 thoughts on “Yesterday’s Numbers

  1. Very interesting! One nuance that might be relevant – it could well be the case that while PDF is the preferred format for reading the (whole) paper, the full-text version is what’s of most use when searching for a quick nugget of information? So the full-text hits are views, where only a small bit of information is extracted, while the PDF views/downloads reflect an intention to try and read (or at least archive) the whole thing.

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