#UCLDPF: Measuring the Reader

On Wednesday February 15th I attended the Digital Publishing Forum "Measuring the Reader" at University College London.

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  1. The Publishers Association, the Centre for Publishing at University College London and EDiTEUR organise regular Digital Publishing Forum seminars through a mix of presentations and discussion sessions. 

    I have compiled my live tweets here from the 15th February session. No live blogging will ever be the same as being there, so please take this reportage as one attendant's subjective view. Speakers where Martha Sedgwick, Senior Manager Online Products, Sage Publications, Stephen Morgan, Managing Director of web company Squiz UK, Dr Angela Conyers, Research Fellow at Evidence Base at Birmingham City University and Eela Devani, Digital Business Development Director, Bloomsbury Publishing. 

    It was a great opportunity to learn about how important players in digital publishing are engaging in methods to track user engagement with digital and online resources. We heard of the truly creative and experimental user testing carried out by SAGE to discover how users might work with different types of content, of the Journal User Statistics Portal, providing reports on counter statistics of library subscriptions to journals from 18 publishers, to Squiz commercial experience in maximising audience report through a careful analysis of a digital project's aims and Bloomsbury's successful experience using Google Analytics and other free web metrics tools to track the positive impact of SEO optimisation on their sites.

    More than "Measuring the Reader", it seems to me the forum was about "measuring engagement" and "measuring traffic and ranking". I liked SAGE's emphasis on user testing beyond more concrete cases of the user as customer. I also liked JUSP's usage of SUSHI  to offer insight about what subscription models might be more efficient for individual users and libraries in the future and what journals are more in demand; I also enjoyed Squiz's optimistic and proactive outlook focused on maximising audiences (so badly needed for academic publishing in my opinion), and admired Bloomsbury's use of analytics tools that are available to anyone.

    There is much work still to be done in terms of developing reliable mechanisms to understand better what, how, why and when to measure. Readers and users are not always the same, though it's clear that in some societies and perhaps in the near future most readers will always-already be digital/online interface users too. The relevance of maximising traffic to online resources by the target audiences and making them come back to them is clear. Academic publishing has a lot to contribute to the debate and a lot to learn too. 
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