Connecting Users to Articles: An Analysis of the Impact of Article Level Linking on Journal Use Statistics

Author : Michelle Swab


Electronic resource management challenges and “big deal” cancellations at one Canadian university library contributed to a situation where a number of electronic journal subscriptions at the university’s health sciences library lacked article level linking.

The aim of this study was to compare the usage of journals with article level linking enabled to journals where only journal level linking was available or enabled.


A list of electronic journal title subscriptions was generated from vendor and subscription agent invoices. Journal titles were eligible for inclusion if the subscription was available throughout 2018 on the publisher’s platform, if the subscription costs were fully funded by the health sciences library, and if management of the subscription required title-by-title intervention by library staff. Of the 356 journal titles considered, 302 were included in the study.

Negative binomial regression was performed to determine the effect of journal vs. article level linking on total COUNTER Journal Report 1 (JR1) successful full-text article requests for 2018, controlling for journal publisher, subject area, journal ranking, and alternate aggregator access.


The negative binomial regression model demonstrated that article level linking had a significant, positive effect on total 2018 JR1 (coef: 0.645; p < 0.001). Article level linking increased the expected total JR1 by 90.7% when compared to journals where article level linking was not available or enabled.

Differences in predicted usage between journals with article level linking and those without article level linking remained significant at various journal ranking levels.

This suggests that usage of both smaller, more specialized journals (e.g., Journal of Vascular Research) and larger, general journals (e.g., New England Journal of Medicine) increases when article level linking is enabled.


This study provides statistical evidence that enabling article level linking has a positive impact on journal usage at one academic health sciences library. Although further study is needed, academic libraries should consider enabling article level linking wherever possible in order to facilitate user access, maximize the value of journal subscriptions, and improve convenience for users.

URL : Connecting Users to Articles: An Analysis of the Impact of Article Level Linking on Journal Use Statistics