The British Library has produced a “marketing White Paper” on the benefits of journal backfile digitisation, Journal Backfiles in Scientific Publishing to promote their digitisation services. A summary version is available for download from the BL website (see the link at foot of page here), with the full version available on request.
According a 2002 paper by Tenopir & King cited in the report, some 15% of articles read by scientists are older than five years. Furthermore the author, Jan Willem Wijnen reports that:
“Analysis of usage statistics of STM publishers’ platforms has revealed that about 20-25% of the downloaded articles are at least five years old. Surprisingly, the percentage of old article downloads is higher in biomedical areas than in humanities. Scientists and researchers are using substantial amounts of older literature. Making these articles accessible via a nearby computer instead of a distant library would certainly be attractive for them. It is very likely that older articles will be used even more extensively if additional online functionality is added to these articles, such as links.”
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