Sunday, 26 June 2011

Mendeley: Download vs Upload Growth

There was a lot of talk about Mendeley at OAI7 in Geneva, especially the news that in the first quarter of 2011 the number of articles downloaded for free jumped from 300,000 to 800,000. That's really good news, confirming Mendeley as a successful service in the Open Access domain. Having done an analysis of Mendeley's impact on Open Access (see Comparing Social Sharing of Bibliographic Information with Institutional Repositories) just under a year ago, I thought I'd repeat the analysis to see the extent of the impact of their growth on deposits as well as downloads.

Results: the number of members of the Computer Science discipline appears to be 2.2x larger than last August (increased to 74736 from 34230.) Of these, only 12102 appear in the Computer Science directory listing, whose contents are now filtered by Mendeley according to their "profile completion"; the gross number was kindly provided for me by Steve Dennis at Mendeley. This filtering takes care of the long tail of accounts that have never been used. Of the filtered users, 1676 are "OA active", having publicly shared at least one PDF document (up 21% on last August). The total number of PDFs shared by this group is 8014, up 16% on last August with 4.8 PDFs being shared per "active OA user" (down from 5.0 last August).

So a big increase in user numbers results in a small increase in publicly shared PDFs, confirming (I think) that Mendeley are not preaching to the choir, and are mainly attracting users who are not already "OA active". Users of Mendeley have clearly transitioned from "scholarly knowledge collectors" to "scholarly knowledge sharers". The challenge still remains how to change their behaviour from "scholarly asset maintainers" to "scholarly asset sharers".

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