What is the Toolkit?

The toolkit provides a framework and a set of best practices for measuring usage and impact of digitised scholarly resources.  Find out more about the original project, and the resources we used to test these methods.

Why should I use it?

The question of how we can measure and understand the usage and impacts of digital content is becoming increasingly important. Substantial investment goes into the creation of digital resources for research, teaching and learning and content creators, publishers and funding bodies are being asked to provide evidence of the value of the resources they’ve invested in.

How do we go about defining value and impact? Which metrics should we adopt to understand usage? When is a digital resource a well used resource?  These are the questions the toolkit aims to help you ask, and answer.

What do you mean by qualitative and quantitative methods?  Which should I use?

The methods we explored fall into two categories, quantitative and qualitative methods. 

Quantitative methods:
These are a set of tools for giving numerical answers to queries about data. For example, what percentage of visitors to this resource are from within the host country? Or, how long do visitors spend on the front page of the resource? These are methods which benefit from a clearly-defined question or hypothesis, and in most cases can only give information about how people use an existing resource.

Qualitative methods:
These tools tend to be more exploratory, and are designed to prompt participants to elaborate on questions using their own words. In these methods the participants can reflect on how they use a resource, or can give an insight into how a resource might be adapted to better suit the needs of the end user.

You can find more information about the relative merits of quantitative and qualitative methods, how to combine them, and how to consider both when beginning research at the web pages of Professor Christina Hughes, University of Warwick.

What are the Case Studies?  How can I use these?

If you are having trouble deciding which methods to use, you may find it helpful to read through the case studies on this site.  Our original 2008 project tested each of these methods on each of the five projects at the heart of our study.  You can read more about our results here.  In 2010, JISC funded a further seven projects to use the toolkit to research and maximise the usage and impact of their resources.  These projects used selected methods from the toolkit in different combinations.  You can read their case studies here, and a synthesis of their results here.  You can also click on the ‘Case Studies’ link in the toolbar, to find all of these case studies, and any added by recent contributors.

The case studies are there to help you to see how these methods have been used by previous studies.  They may help you to formulate research questions, or to decide which methods would be most useful in analysing your resource.

We’ve included, where possible, reports on each of the methods we’ve used during testing of the toolkit.  If you are seeking funding to perform usage and/or impact analyses, you may be able to use these to show proof of concept.

How can I contribute to the Toolkit?

If you are a registered user, you can add articles, comments and upload documents to the toolkit.  If you have used the toolkit and found it helpful, we’d like to add your experience to our site.  If you’ve found a great new tool or found a new method helpful, please let us know and share it with our community.

Why should I register for an account?

We ask you to register for an account in order to add content for two reasons.  Firstly, sites of this kind become targets for spammers, and by asking you to register, we can help prevent rogue or unsuitable content from being published here.  Secondly, if you register, you can be shown to be the author of the content, which increases your digital impact!