Measuring reuse of institutionally-hosted grey literature

Ayla Stein Kenfield, Elizabeth Kelly, Caroline Muglia, Genya O’Gara, Santi Thompson, Liz Woolcott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Grey literature is often hosted in digital libraries such as institutional repositories (IRs) and managed by digital librarians who are tasked with proving the value of these collections. Newly developed multimedia COUNTER standards for IRs help guide collection and analysis of standardized use data but lack qualitative or storytelling measures that can add much needed nuance to assessment. Content reuse, or how often and in what ways digital repository materials are utilized and repurposed, can bridge this gap for IRs. Reuse of digital repository collections and materials is an important assessment measurement because, unlike use, reuse shows engagement with collections and impact of digital repository resources in a more meaningful fashion. The research team for Developing a Framework for Measuring Reuse of Digital Objects received a $70,850 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (LG-73-17-0002- 17) to address this problem. The grant’s primary deliverables focused on the creation and application of an in-depth needs assessment of the digital repository community to determine desired functionality of a reuse assessment toolkit. The research team’s outputs include the development of well-defined requirements and use cases which serve as the building blocks for an assessment toolkit that goes beyond use and focuses on transformation. The researchers employed surveys, focus groups, and data tagging and analysis to assess digital repository needs for measuring reuse. Specific data points regarding reuse of IR materials were extracted and analyzed for this conference presentation. Measuring reuse of IR materials has emerged as a complex issue. Potential use cases thus far include: collecting data on what content was not reusable in order to develop deselection criteria; mapping dataset reuse to data management plans; assessing use and reuse of IR materials by stakeholders such as grant funding agencies; and faulty or missing citations in electronic theses and dissertations. A broader concern emerged regarding weighting types of reuse differently depending on the type of digital collection as well as the mission and priority of the hosting institution. Participants identified lack of best practices, documented workflows, assessment training, and staffing as the greatest barriers to assessing reuse. As the grant ended in June 2018, the research team turned its focus to synthesizing the results of the needs assessment to address the challenges of measuring reuse. This presentation explores the findings of this research, specifically its impacts on Grey Literature hosted in IRs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-58
Number of pages8
JournalGrey Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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