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An assessment of potential efficiency gains through online content use

Claire Creaser (LISU, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Yvonne Hamblin (Department of Information Science, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
J. Eric Davies (LISU, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)

Program: electronic library and information systems

ISSN: 0033-0337

Article publication date: 1 April 2006




Online content has largely replaced traditional print‐based resources as the primary tool for literature searching throughout much of the academic and research community. This paper presents the results of a small‐scale study, commissioned by the JISC in 2004, to assess the potential efficiency gains that may be achieved through the use of online content by researchers.


Information gleaned from an extensive literature review was combined with recent usage data to calculate broad estimates of the efficiency gains which are being made by the research community through using online searching strategies as opposed to print resources.


The estimated staff costs in UK universities of literature searching are some £7 million per annum. Manual literature searching can take around five times as long as using relevant electronic resources. The consequent savings from the availability of electronic bibliographic databases are estimated in the region of £25 million per annum.


This paper brings together findings from a number of distinct studies and extrapolates these to the current situation in the UK. It demonstrates the value of investment in electronic bibliographic databases to the funding bodies which provide these to researchers.



Creaser, C., Hamblin, Y. and Eric Davies, J. (2006), "An assessment of potential efficiency gains through online content use", Program: electronic library and information systems, Vol. 40 No. 2, pp. 178-189.



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