The end of May of each year usually brings the Society for Scholarly Publishing Annual Meeting. This year, due to public health concerns, it’s been canceled, which is for the best but also brings with it the sadness of not being able to spend time with good friends and colleagues while learning more about the state of our community. But, like many organizations, while the public meeting has been shuttered, the internal board meetings continue (at least virtually), and as part of that I usually prepare a year-to-date report on The Scholarly Kitchen. I thought it would be interesting to look at this unusual year and see how it differs from years past.
The first question I was curious about was how readership was affected during the isolation period over the last few months. Overall readership from January to early May is up 13% over last year. On the surface, it looks like there’s been a big jump in readership, with March 2020 setting an all-time record for pageviews (168,569). But historically we’ve increased our monthly views in March and April of every year since the blog started in 2008 (with the exceptions of April 2016 and March 2017). The increases in readership are generally in line with what we saw last year:
|Year||March (% increase over previous year)||April (% increase over previous year)|
So while we’re definitely growing our audience, it seems in line with our steady year-on-year growth, rather than the pandemic driving some sort of rush to blog reading. Commenting has remained steady after last year’s significant drop at about 11 comments per post.
Looking at readership of posts over the last quarter tells the story of where we all currently stand, with readership largely focused on pandemic-related topics (with a few exceptions):
- Guest Post: Think Sci-Hub is Just Downloading PDFs? Think Again
- Building Your Remote Workforce: Including Tips & Tricks for Social Distancing
- New Chinese Policy Could Reshape Global STM Publishing
- Revisiting in a New Light: A Conference Call in Real Life
- Guest Post — Coronavirus is a Wakeup Call for Academic Conferences. Here’s Why
- Academic Libraries at a Pivotal Moment
- Marketing Amidst a Pandemic
- Forecasting the US Higher Education Market: A Primer
- The Internet Archive Chooses Readers
- What Does “Exponential Growth” Mean?
So that’s 8 out of 10 top posts pandemic-related (and given the likely increase in Sci-Hub use with researchers off campus, one could argue that the strong interest in security and privacy implications is also relevant).
That’s a quick look behind the scenes. I hope the information and ideas we’ve covered during this upheaval have been helpful, and I’m sure we’ll continue to think about how our world will evolve as things continue. Given that it’s unlikely we’re going to be able to meet in person for quite a while, I’d encourage everyone to add your voice to the conversation, through our comments or via a guest post. Community remains important, particularly in times of crisis, so please do let us know how we can help.