The UK’s Research Information Network / University College London has just published a new report, E-journals: their use, value and impact

“A lot of money, time and energy is spent on producing journals but we still do not have any practical evidence about how they are actually used. Many surveys have been done in the past on how much researchers welcome online access to journals — but none have demonstrated how users actually behave and use e-journals in practice. Until now, there has been no joined-up, evidence-based study …”

[users] “forsake many of the online facilities provided on the publishers’ platform … they are much more likely to enter via gateway sites [ such as Google ] … Users are by-passing carefully-crafted discovery systems [available from libraries] … ”

[any on-site journal-specific] “…advanced search function is used rarely, and hardly at all by users in the most highly-rated research institutions.”

“Per capita expenditure and use of e-journals is strongly and positively correlated with papers published, numbers of PhD awards, and research grants and contracts income.”