Recently, I had the opportunity to explore OSTI's web traffic statistics with Walt Warnick and Karen Spence. I am quite happy with what was revealed about our traffic growth and the value of our various collaborations in making scientific and technical information more accessible. So I wanted to share it with you here at the OSTI Blog.
Web Traffic, How and What OSTI Tracks
OSTI measures web traffic in a number of ways. One measure is information transactions, defined as discrete information exchanges between an information patron and OSTI's suite of web-based information services. Other specific measures include searches performed on various OSTI products; user requests for bibliographic citations; user requests for the full text of a technical report; page views of OSTI web pages; referral information including search engine (e.g. Google) referrals and social media (e.g. Facebook) referrals; and numerous reports captured via specialized metrics tools. OSTI reports the information transaction metric here because it reports total web traffic from all sources in a simple view. The OSTI Web Traffic chart captures all traffic hosted at OSTI, including osti.gov, science.gov, and worldwidescience.org. Currently, 70% of OSTI's web traffic originates from domestic sources and 30% from international sources. Of the domestic traffic, the majority originates from commercial domains.
Growth can be attributed to working in close collaboration with Google and Yahoo!, as an early adopter of the Sitemap Protocol, a new information industry standard that facilitates an easy way for web content managers to inform search engines about the content that exists on their sites.
One implementation was to create topical search results pages for Science.gov and WorldWideScience.org to expose these products via the Sitemap Protocol to Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc.
Specific Product Growth
Science.gov and WorldWideScience.org, which integrate DOE R&D outputs with those of other well known R&D organizations, are the OSTI products with the fastest growing total of information transactions.
FY11 web traffic will result from only 20% of OSTI's full-text holdings since this is the percentage in electronic format; digitization of the remaining 80% of the collection is expected to increase traffic.
Many commercial information services (e.g. EBSCO publishing), libraries, and other information providers routinely download DOE R&D results from OSTI's databases. They, in turn, fold DOE's information into their own products to serve their customers. While that is a dissemination success for DOE, such downstream usage cannot be traced or measured by DOE.