ER&L 2016: Access Denied!

outlier
“outliers” by Robert S. Donovan

Speakers: Julie Linden, Angela Sidman, and Sarah Tudesco, Yale University

Vendors often use the data from COUNTER turn away reports as marketing tools to convince a library to purchase new content.

How are users being turned away from the content? How are they finding it in the first place? Google/Google Scholar, PUBMED, and publisher platforms that don’t allow for limiting to your content only are generally the sources.

Look for patterns in the turnaway data. Does it match the patterns in your use data and the academic year? Corroborate with examples from access issue reports. This can lead to a purchase decision. Or not.

Look for outliers in the turnaway data. What could have caused this? Platform changes, site outages (particularly for content you do license but appears on the turnaway report), reported security breaches, etc. You can ask for more granular data from the vendor such as turnaways by day or week, as well as IP address. You can ask the vendor for contextual information such as platform changes/issues, and more pointedly, do they think the turnaways are coming from real users.

Combine the data from the turnaway reports with ILL requests. Do they match up? This might mean that those titles are really in demand. However, bear in mind that many users will just give up and look for something else that’s just as good but available right now.

Analysis checklist:
IF you see a steady pattern:

  • Check holdings for access to the content
  • Consider the access model (MU/SU)

IF you see outliers:

  • Consider outside events

ASK the vendor for more information

  • Can you provide more granular data?
  • Can you provide contextual information?
  • Do you think this represents real users?

Audience Q&A:

Journal turnaways can include archival years for current subscriptions that aren’t included.

One very aggressive vendor used the library’s purchase request form to flood them with requests from users that don’t exist.

How are the outliers documented? Hard to do. Vendors certainly hang on to them, even when they acknowledge they know this isn’t legit.