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News & Press: General Announcements

Understanding OA Ebook Usage: Toward a Common Framework

Sunday, June 3, 2018   (0 Comments)

The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) will collaborate with KU Research and researchers from the universities of Michigan and North Texas to convene a structured community conversation focused on improving usage and engagement tracking for open access (OA) ebooks. With the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the one-year project will run from June 1, 2018, to May 31, 2019.

It is often said that an OA publication will be more often downloaded, used, and cited than a comparable restricted-access title. Publishers need to demonstrate such impact to receive support for their open access programs, funders look for usage data to demonstrate return on their investments, and authors are eager to show evidence of additional reach and influence for their work. Because of differences in the supply chain, however, information about the impact of academic ebooks, especially OA books, is much more difficult to gather, analyze, and communicate than comparable information about electronic journals.

This funded project will identify the challenges in understanding the usage of OA ebooks, suggest some opportunities for resolving them, and create a framework for future action through community consultation. It will focus on the challenges of identifying and aggregating relevant information from different platforms, analyzing what has been gathered in ways that respect user privacy, and communicating relevant information about usage to stakeholders. As well as looking at usage metrics, the researchers will explore indicators of engagement such as altmetrics. An important objective is to connect strands of research currently being conducted separately in the United States and Europe, by both for-profit and non-profit entities. Following the conclusion of this research project, BISG will publish a white paper of findings and propose a pathway for future action.

The principal investigators are Charles Watkinson (University of Michigan), Kevin Hawkins (University of North Texas), Lucy Montgomery (KU Research), and Brian O’Leary (BISG). Katherine Skinner (Educopia Institute) will act as a professional facilitator for the summit. Further information about the project can be found here:

BISG ( works to create a more informed, empowered and efficient book industry. Its broad membership includes scholarly, trade, education, and professional, as well as distributors, wholesalers, retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and libraries.

KU Research ( is a team of researchers and publishing industry practitioners working together to help realise the possibilities of digital technology and OA for specialist scholarly books and the communities that care about them.


For more information, contact Brian O'Leary: (email), (646) 336-7141 (work phone), or (973) 985-9880 (cell phone).


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