Splashes and Ripples: Synthesizing the Evidence on the Impacts of Digital Resources

This report is an effort to begin to synthesize the evidence available under the JISC digitisation programme to better understand the patterns of usage of digitised collections in research and teaching, in the UK and beyond. JISC has invested heavily in e-content and digitisation, funding over 60 digitisation projects since 2004. However, until recently, the value of these efforts has been mostly either taken as given, or asserted via anecdote. By drawing on evidence of the various impacts of twelve digitised resources, we can begin to build a base of evidence that moves beyond anecdotal evidence to a more empirically-based understanding on a variety of impacts that have been measured by qualitative and quantitative methods.

Report now available: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1846535

Digitised materials representing the world’s cultural heritage are part of a growing trend toward a world in which knowledge is digitally stored, available on demand, and constantly growing. As the world becomes digital and the globally connected “digital brain” holds the shared knowledge of the world, the materials of the past need to be included in order to ensure that our collective memory online encompasses not just the present and the future, but also the past.

These impacts are both big and small – the splashes and ripples in the title of this report. Some collections have made big splashes, such as The University of Oxford on iTunes U, which sees 1-2 million accesses per day from people interested in hearing lectures being delivered by the world’s top experts in their respective fields. Others have generated smaller ripples that are nevertheless important within specialty areas, such as the Siobhan Davies RePlay dance resource, which is one of the few digital collections in the world that allows students of dance to see the whole process of choreographing and creating innovative dance.

See a webcast discussing the report: