Revisiting Plato’s Cave

by | Nov 8, 2013 | 0 comments


Bruce Heterick

Bruce Heterick

Bruce Heterick, Vice President, JSTOR, explained that JSTOR is a fairly unique content provider.  Most of its content consists of back files of about 2,000 journals. JSTOR has an in-house analytics team to help understand their data in a better way.

Content Accesses at JSTOR

Most access starts at JSTOR.  Self-referrers include people linking within JSTOR.  5% of accesses come through the Serials Solutions link resolver.  It is not possible to tell whether access comes through a discovery service or their link resolver.  JSTOR now gets a lot fewer referrals from Google than previously because Google’s new ranking algorithm has affected publishers with pay walls.  Link resolvers in Google Scholar drive a lot of traffic. Accesses through discovery services is small.  One of JSTOR’s challenges is how to help people starting their searches at the JSTOR site have a better experience.

In 2012, usage for a small US institution dropped, which and was worrisome.  In June 2012, the institution implemented a discovery service, causing the drop.  JSTOR sent out a survey to institutions asking what discovery service they had and when they implemented it.  Here are the results (2013 data also included).

Survey results

Getting good data is hard, expensive, and requires negotiation.

Usage differences

Here are some initial conclusions from this study.  

General results



Don Hawkins blogs about conferences for Information Today and Against The Grain. He also maintains the Conference Calendar on the Information Today website and is the Editor of Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage, published by Information Today in 2013, and Co-Editor of Public Knowledge: Access and Benefits, published by Information Today in 2016. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and has worked in the information industry for over 45 years.

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