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PEER Research


As part of the PEER project Usage, Behavioural and Economics Research studies are conducted.

You will find the public reports of the Research Teams in the Reports section.


Usage Research : Journals and Repositories



1. “Commercial” impact of self-archiving

Will the usage of publisher stage III articles increase, decrease or remain constant over the period of the experiment and to what extent can this be attributed to repository use and access?  Clearly the project is also about the potential effect of self-archiving on the established publishing model - whether there is a commercial impact of the one on the other.


2. Effects of embargoes

2a Impact of author v publisher submitted articles

Will repository stage II manuscripts with an embargo receive less use (and how much less use) that those without an embargo? Does the length of the embargo (in different subject areas) have an effect?  We will try to see if we can isolate the impact of length of embargo on use – probably by looking at different periods within the same discipline. However, author-submitted articles will come, if at all, in dribs and drabs, and it is possible that perhaps no more than 5% of authors will submit voluntarily. Authors will receive instructions as to embargo periods for the journals where author deposit is the approach.


3. New and different users

Does the experiment result in the use of articles by groups who might otherwise be not able to access them?  In other words, are the users of repository material different in kind from those that use the publisher platforms?


4. Different, complementary use

Whether repositories and publisher platforms offer different things to readers: for example it is reported that institutional repositories are preferred for known item searches, publishers’ platforms for browsing and resource discovery.  This can be tested on a large scale through deep log analysis navigational techniques. There is the issue about data for articles being available


5. Diversity

a) To what extent do journal origin and impact factor, subject, article age, date of deposit, referrer link used and repository impact on article use and information seeking behaviour?

b) To what extent are there differences between English and non-English language journals and between the various national repositories.


6. Dependencies and intervening variables (background radiation)

To what extent is the usage data impacted upon by factors which a) belong to the landscape of scholarly communication and publishing (e.g. author deposit, European Science Repository project etc); b) are created by the PEER experiment (e.g. the Hawthorn Effect)


• Determine usage trends at publishers and repositories. For participating publishers and participating repositories, usage data will be available for articles in which case a) the manuscript was deposited by the publisher; b) the manuscript was deposited by the author; c) no manuscript was deposited.

• Understand source and nature of use of deposited manuscripts in repositories (so called Green Open Access). The harvesting of log files will be facilitated at participating publishers and repositories.

• Understand how embargo periods affect usage patterns. As traditional publishers request an embargo for stage-two outputs, usage (downloading, reading, citing) is delayed.

• Track trends, develop indicators and explain patterns of usage. A contribution to the new field of usage research is expected.

Behavioural Research : Authors and Users vis-à-vis Journals and Repositories



The research will address the role of Stage 2 manuscript repositories in the scholarly communication system by exploring perceptions, motivations and behaviours of authors and users. It will do this through the following set of research questions:

  • In seeking information what choices do readers make in locating and selecting sources and in what ways do such choices influence the role played by repositories in information seeking behaviours?
  • In publishing research, what choices do authors make in locating and selecting appropriate outlets, and what are the major influences on their choices? Where do repositories fit in the dissemination landscape?
  • What common perceptions do readers have in relation to repositories, e.g. quality, authority of versions, and availability, and how do such perceptions influence information behaviours?
  • What common perceptions do authors have in relation to repositories, e.g. visibility, impact, and recognition, and how do such perceptions influence publication and dissemination behaviours?
  • Are there identifiable coarse-grained characteristics of authors and readers that influence their behaviour (e.g. institutional type, region, discipline, career status etc.)?
  • How do social/institutional factors influence author and reader behaviours (e.g. mandates, embargoes, research cultures)?
  • What tensions, if any, exist between institutional (e.g. employer/funder/publisher) policies and practice, and disciplinary norms and practices? In what ways do such tensions influence authors and readers?

The research questions will be operationalised via the survey and focus group research instruments. Participants will be given clear direction as to what roles (author or user) they are responding under. The mechanism for assigning roles in the focus groups will typically be mini-scenarios and tasks associated with critical incidents.


• Track trends and explain patterns of author and user behaviour in the context of so called Green Open Access, for a scenario by which archiving of Stage 2 manuscripts happens on a large scale. As the archiving of Stage 2 manuscripts becomes more common, how does this change the behaviour and attitudes of authors and/or users?

• Understand the role repositories play for authors in the context of journal publishing. Several thousand authors will be receiving an invitation to self-archive their final peer-reviewed manuscript or be alerted to the fact that their manuscript was archived in a repository.

• Understand the effect of embargo periods on the perceptions and praxis of authors and users. For stage-two outputs (but not working papers or pre-prints) traditional publishers request an embargo period before they are made Open Access.

• Understand the role repositories play for users in context of accessing journal articles. Repositories in Europe will see a significant increase in the content they hold, adding to the disciplinary, national and institutional repository content already available.

Economics Research : Cost of the large-scale deposit



The main issue addressed by PEER consortium is to assess the impact of archiving the stage-two research outputs in repositories, if implemented on a broad and systematic scale, on journals and on the wider ecology of scientific research in Europe.

Addressing this issue from an economic perspective requires to deal with the following research questions:

  • What are the costs associated with archiving stage two articles under different business models?
  • What are the costs for different actors involved associated with the creation and management of PEER depot?

Answering the first question requires to understand the process of reviewing – publishing and marketing catalogs/ repositories under different business models, which is the focus of analysis of the first part of the research.


• Investigate the cost of the large scale deposit of stage-two research outputs (including the economic efficiency or cost of the process of deposit). PEER distinguishes between a) the manuscript is deposited by the publisher directly; and b) the manuscript is deposited by the author after being notified of this possibility (by the publisher). These scenarios should be investigated, but alternative models of assisted deposit and self-archiving may be considered for comparative purposes.

• Understand the costs incurred by participating publishers and repositories (of the PEER Project). Access to interview partners and data (where available) will be granted.

• Understand and compare access costs at journals and repositories. For publishers and repositories, cost per use (download) should be analyzed, but the research should include a perspective from users and libraries (e.g. costs of searching for and/or providing of information).

• Understand, principally, for the deposit of so-called Stage 2 manuscripts the costs a) in time to depositors: b) for the set-up and the longer term to repositories and/or libraries; and c) to publisher when co-operating in the deposit process (e.g. direct or assisted deposit);

• Analyse the overall effects of large scale deposit (Green OA) on the economics of scholarly communication. As several studies on the potential overall economic benefits (or non-benefits) of Open Access have already been commissioned by various stakeholders (e.g. see 14. below), this study should emphasize the internal or micro perspective, i.e. the costs and benefits to authors and users as well as publishers, repositories and institutions.

Research Tenders 

The selection of Research Teams for PEER has been closed.