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Exploring the information behaviour of users of Welsh Newspapers Online through web log analysis

Paul Gooding (University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 14 March 2016

Abstract

Purpose

Webometric techniques have been applied to many websites and online resources, especially since the launch of Google Analytics (GA). To date, though, there has been little consideration of information behaviour in relation to digitised newspaper collections. The purpose of this paper is to address a perceived gap in the literature by providing an account of user behaviour in the newly launched Welsh Newspapers Online (WNO).

Design/methodology/approach

The author collected webometric data for WNO using GA and web server content logs. These were analysed to identify patterns of engagement and user behaviour, which were then considered in relation to existing information behaviour.

Findings

Use of WNO, while reminiscent of archival information seeking, can be understood as centring on the web interface rather than the digitised material. In comparison to general web browsing, users are much more deeply engaged with the resource. This engagement incorporates reading online, but users’ information seeking utilises website search and browsing functionality rather than filtering in newspaper material. Information seeking in digitised newspapers resembles the model of the “user” more closely than that of the “reader”, a value-laden distinction which needs further unpacking.

Research limitations/implications

While the behaviour discussed in this paper is likely to be more widely representative, a larger longitudinal data set would increase the study’s significance. Additionally, the methodology of this paper can only tell us what users are doing, and further research is needed to identify the drivers for this behaviour.

Originality/value

This study provides important insights into the underinvestigated area of digitised newspaper collections, and shows the importance of webometric methods in analysing online user behaviour.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author is grateful to the National Library of Wales for providing access to their staff, collections and data sets, and for their encouragement and support in this research.

Citation

Gooding, P. (2016), "Exploring the information behaviour of users of Welsh Newspapers Online through web log analysis", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 72 No. 2, pp. 232-246. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-10-2014-0149

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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