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A current awareness resource for students & faculty members in Business & Economics

Big numbers and/or high impact: Looking for value in database subscriptions

Published by Mark Bodnar

9400!  That's how many IBISWorld reports were downloaded by SFU researchers in the last three months of 2014.  When you consider that very little assignment research happens in December, that means that we averaged over 4000 reports/month in October and November.

We realize that without context those numbers mean nothing to you. From the perspective of the team responsible for selecting and budgeting for such business/economics databases, and taking into account the cost and the number of expected users, I can tell you that I'm quite pleased. 

IBISWorld is one of those databases that we know could be used broadly in many marketing, strategy, and entrepreneurship courses -- at both undergraduate and graduate levels. IBISWorld reports may also be useful to some Resource & Environmental Management, Economics, Interactive Arts & Technology, and Communications assignments.  With such wide appeal, we look for high usage as our primary means of evaluating the database, and numbers like 9400 are reassuring.

Here in the library, we have different ways of judging the value of our database subscriptions:

  • In some cases, we are looking to see how many times the database was used: the number of searches, downloads, etc.  We can then factor in the cost of the database and get a rough measure of cost per use.  This approach allows us to compare resources that have all been acquired with an expectation of widespread use. 
  • Or, in cases where we don't expect wide use but we know that a specific resource is absolutely required for a smaller group of researchers to do their work, we will sometimes try to measure impacts and outputs -- was the resource used to produce a conference presentation, dissertation, journal article, or book?

These approaches aren't mutually exclusive -- we appreciate hearing about the impact of even a high-use database:

Did you download some of the 9400+ IBISWorld reports used since October? Or did many of the students in one of your classes cite IBISWorld as a source in their assignments? Was IBISWorld core to the completion of a project?  Please do drop us a note to let us know. (And that goes for our other databases as well -- any and all stories of impacts and outputs are always welcome!)

Back to that 9400 number... Besides just scanning the overall usage stats, we like to look at the most popular report topics each semester.  In Fall-2014 it was clearly the "Canada" module of the database that got the most use: Almost half the reports downloaded here at SFU were from that section, even though Canada reports make up only 20% of the database. Were you among the many people who downloaded these popular reports?

-- MarkB

Happy New Year from all of your Bus/Econ Librarian team:

Mark Bodnar (Business – Burnaby): mbodnar@sfu.ca

Megan Sorenson (Business – Vancouver): megan_sorenson@sfu.ca

Ania Dymarz (Business – Surrey): adymarz@sfu.ca

Carla Graebner (Economics – Burnaby): cgraebne@sfu.ca

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