Digital Commons - Information and Tools



Paul Royster

Date of this Version



This month’s most popular article, “RODENTS AS A FOOD SOURCE,” (from the Proceedings of the Fourteenth Vertebrate Pest Conference 1990) was referenced by food blogger Jesse Sharrad at and experienced 50 to 100 hits daily for several weeks afterwards. Interesting article, but lately I’ve been eyeing the campus squirrels and thinking “Brunswick stew”.

Other newcomers to the top of the list include Roscoe Pound’s classic essay “Justice according to Law” (from The Mid-West Quarterly 1914), which has a link from the Wikipedia article on Pound.

Theodore Parker’s “Strauss’s Life of Jesus,” an 1840 review from the Christian Examiner of David Strauss’s Das Leben Jesu (1835) showed a strong surge of interest. I don’t know if this represents a sudden revival of interest in Parker, or Strauss, or Jesus. Again, there’s a Wikipedia link from the article on David Strauss.

Four newly added works from the Nebraska Studies in Language, Literature, and Criticism series (developed by Louise Pound and others from the teens to the forties) also appear very high up the list: Signs, Omens, and Portents in Nebraska Folklore; Nebraska Folk Cures; Nebraska Place-Names; and Proverbial Lore in Nebraska. All benefited from being listed by John Mark Ockerbloom on The Online Books Page —

Also making the list in their first month out of the gate were 3 works by the inimitable Paul Johnsgard: Cranes of the World; A Guide to the Tallgrass Prairies of Eastern Nebraska and Adjacent States; and A Guide to the Natural History of the Central Platte Valley of Nebraska. These are all complete books and were immediately listed by The Online Books Page (which is picked up as an RSS feed by an amazing number of blogs of all descriptions).

One very sad note is the presence on the list of an article co-authored by Kent Hendrickson, “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Profile and the Organization,” which was downloaded many times in the days following his tragic fatal accident on I-80 last month.

Of course, there were the perennial favorites: Tom Winter on Greek archery and Roman concrete, Hossein Noureddini on biodiesel conversion, David Hansen on childhood physical abuse, Richard Dienstbier on arousal, Andrew Smith’s bibliography of scarab literature, and Sue Ann Gardner’s bibliography of oil and gas development (narrowly edging out husband Scott Gardner’s dictionary of invertebrate zoology).

Plus, as always, the open-access theses and dissertations made another strong showing: Brenden Rensink, Kurt Kinbacher, Dilia Hernández Delgado, Julio César Sánchez Rondón, and Marina Fabrikant all had their work downloaded more than 100 times during the month.

Where are all these downloads coming from?
According to a usage report showing referrals, 51,238 downloads (out of a total of 64,667) came via search engine referrals; of these Google was responsible for 45,093 (88%). By contrast, Yahoo brought 1,887, and AOL 512. One-third of the Google-originated downloads came from outside the United States.

What accounts for these (relatively) large download numbers?
1. An active effort to place links at appropriate sites to materials held in the repository — including Wikipedia, Online Books Page, and others. Of course, sometimes it happens that a blogger does this on their own (as in the “Rodents as a Food Source” article), but depositors should think of places where their materials might be offered to potential users. Linking is very easy, since each document has its own permanent URL (which can be copied right from the browser’s address bar).

2. Perhaps more important, is that each article is posted with a Google-searched abstract. While some repositories lament their “roach-motel” inactivity, their works are offered with little more than title, author, and date showing, reducing the likelihood of search-engine hits and giving little evidence that this is material that would be of interest to the user. A good long abstract with many key words used will greatly improve an article’s position in Google search results. Of course, if an article is downloaded a lot (and, yes, Google does keep count of click-throughs), then Google will index the whole text of the article, not just the author-title-abstract-and first 100K of text that it originally does.

3. Data is like matter in that it has gravitational attraction for other data. I mean that the more traffic coming through the Digital Commons site, the higher its contents rank on Google search results. Thus, there’s a feedback loop here that amplifies the effect of being in a successful repository. As the repository’s content grows, and as traffic through the UNL Digital Commons site has increased (and article downloads have been increasing about 7–8% per month, i.e., tripling every year!), the relative position in Google’s search results has been climbing and the rate of downloading has accelerated.

The UNL-DC Top 25 – February 2008

1. Rodents as a Food Source
2. The Constitutions of the Free-Masons (1734). An Online Electronic Edition.
3. Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection Bibliography - Volume II: English and European Languages (2000)
4. Effects of Offshore Oil and Gas Development: A Current Awareness Bibliography
5. A Description of New England (1616): An Online Electronic Text Edition
6. Online Dictionary of Invertebrate Zoology: Complete Work
7. The Wonders of the Invisible World. Observations as Well Historical as Theological, upon the Nature, the Number, and the Operations of the Devils (1693)
8. Justice According to Law
9. Electronic Rodent Repellent Devices: A Review of Efficacy Test Protocols and Regulatory Actions
10. Long-Term Consequences of Childhood Physical Abuse
11. Native American History, Comparative Genocide and The Holocaust: Historiography, Debate and Critical Analysis
12. Immigration, the American West, and the Twentieth Century: German From Russia, Omaha Indian, and Vietnamese-Urban Villagers in Lincoln, Nebraska
13. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Profile and the Organization
14. Coyote and Wolf Habitat Use in Northwestern Montana
15. La presencia del dolor en la obra poética de Garcilaso de la Vega, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, Gutierre de Cetina, Lope de Vega y la Madre Josefa del Castillo
16. Production of Ethers of Glycerol from Crude Glycerol—The By-Product of Biodiesel Production
17. A Continuous Process for the Conversion of Vegetable Oils into Methyl Esters of Fatty Acids
18. Poética de lo Soez: Luis Rafael Sánchez: Identidad y Cultura en América Latina y en El Caribe
19. Inhibition of Mold Growth by Sourdough Bread Cultures
20. Bach-Busoni Chaconne: A Piano Transcription Analysis
21. Forensic interviewing in child sexual abuse cases: Current techniques and future directions
22. Se condouloir ou consoler? Les condoléances dans les manuels épistolaires de l'ancien régime
23. Strauss’s Life of Jesus
24. Work Motivation, Job Satisfaction, and Organisational Commitment of Library Personnel in Academic and Research Libraries in Oyo State, Nigeria