9 de fev. de 2017

Summary Report of Bioline International User Survey

By: Barbara Kirsop
(June - December 2016) 

The survey launched by Bioline International to assess the user base with which we are working finished at the end of December 2016, after some 300 individuals had responded over a period of 6 months. The aim of the survey was to try to establish from which countries usage was taking place, whether the main purpose was to support research activities, or whether it was used mainly as a teaching tool – or both. If the main usage was for research, we wanted to find out which branches of bioscience found the service useful, and what was the overall breadth of usage disciplines.

Since the statistics of usage, which are made public continually on-the-fly from the web site home page, showed very high usage (more than 15 million full text downloads have been recorded annually in recent years), it seemed important to investigate the user base in order to improve the service in the future.

The full results can be seen on line from http://www.bioline.org.br/survey. From this it can be noted that responding users are drawn from some 65 countries around the world, both from LMICs and from the ‘North’ – particularly from the USA, China and some EU countries. This is interesting, as it demonstrates the importance of the ‘missing science’ to international research progress, and provides encouragement to the publishers in developing countries, and the authors from these regions who provide the content for the journals. Thus, not only is usage of the journals very high, but scientists in the North are finding these articles important to their own research.

Figure 1. Users who answered the survey by country
Responding users are predominantly from the international university communities, although researchers in government and NGO institutes, both public and private, and schools are also represented. 

The bioscience disciplines represented are predominantly from the medical and health-related disciplines, including disease control measures and community health developments, but again, agriculture, environmental studies such as climate change research, and policy programmes are interested in the information to be found on the site. It is quite clear that the Bioline user base is very broad and very diverse. 

As well as requesting users to complete the survey form, we also invited respondents to tell us a little more about the specific value to their own work that the site provided. Although some 40 respondents provided  more information, this was on the whole brief and generalised and may partly be explained by the fact that for many users, English is not their first language, so that writing more personally could be time consuming. Nevertheless, a few of the responses are attached below, to give a flavour of the general benefits the users found. It would seem from some of the responses that the fact that the service is Open Access and free of charge both to users and publishers is the prime benefit. It is clear also that some of the information appears to be unique and had not been found elsewhere.

It should be explained that Bioline was established more than 25 years ago in early Internet times (pre-WWW), and has slowly and steadily grown, thanks to the dedicated work of the Bioline teams in Brasil (CRIA) and Canada (University of Toronto, Scarborough), and occasional UK support, who provide the service mainly within their existing work programmes, and often on a voluntary basis. There is a back log of journals wishing to become part of the service and benefit from the wide usage this would provide, but current resources do not allow expansion at the present time. However, new partners with additional resources would help meet this demand without overstretching current resources. 

Some responses provided by individual users (their comments remain anonymous, although all respondents were willing to be contacted by Bioline).

From Malawi: It is indispensable. It has advanced my research skills in natural resource management.

From Ecuador: For scientific research projects concerning my career
It is one of the most relevant pages for research

From Ethiopia: I came across Bioline by mistake! Even though I have access to a lot of publications due to my affiliation to Lorraine University, I could not find an article I was searching for!! However, I could find here at bioline 

From Nigeria: Bioline is very important to us in Nigeria, in my University of Port Harcourt and to my personal research work. The major reason is because it is an open access. We are unable to access the big journals in Elsevier but we also get very useful information in bioline

From Kenya : It will help the country in identification of public health issues that will inform policy

From Puerto Rica: Bioline provides the latest information of the plants under research. The Asian and India provides good works in our area of study.

From India: It usefull for new researchers given new ideas

From Mexico: Solo busco informacion, estoy a punto de terminar mi licenciatura. Muchas Gracias por brindar estos espacios from Mexico

From Ukraine: It is important to know about the study of plants in South America.

From Kenya: Bioline is important to find out other authors' advances in research work in various fields inclusive of agricultural science.

Bioline thanks the survey respondents that have taken the trouble to tell us a little more about their personal benefits. And thanks also are due to the CRIA team for developing the survey form and tracking usage.