OJS- MP3 Article Usage: A pilot study

Kathy Killoh, Athabasca University; Paula Smith, Athabasca University; Shubhash Wasti, Athabasca University


As technology advances and methods of information gathering and dissemination change, the technologies used to manage and enhance the publication process must also change to continue to meet or exceed readers’ expectations and needs. With the explosion of MP3 players on the marketplace, mobile technologies are now in place that enables readers to access research and scholarly papers anywhere, anytime. This presentation reports on the results of a pilot study designed to introduce mobile technologies via Athabasca University’s largest e-journal, The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (www.irrodl.org). As of June 2006, readers have the option of downloading IRRODL journal articles in MP3 format.

In designing this pilot study, we assumed that given the increasing ubiquity of mobile devices such as MP3 players and cell phones, there will likely be a ‘market’ for MP3 articles. Indeed, we felt that as students and researchers become technologically adept and mobile, we hypothesize that MP3 downloads would provide IRRODL readers increased flexibility to download research papers to listen to at their convenience (i.e., while commuting, waiting at airports, in hotel rooms, etc). The purpose of this pilot study, therefore, was to find answers to several questions. While we have measurement in place that can monitor the download activity of MP3 articles, this quantitative data could not tell us whether the MP3 downloads were accidental (i.e., readers thought they were downloading a PDF or HTML version of the article) or whether they were legitimate. Nor could the quantitative data tell us how and in what context these articles were used. Nor could this data tell us what geographical locations were more likely to use MP3 formats over more established online formats, such as PDF and HTML.

This pilot study aimed to:

1. Find a text-to-speech software program that was both economical and provided a pleasant voice after conversion.
2. Convert a number of IRRODL issues to MP3.
3. Ask IRRODL users fill out an online MP3 survey, which questioned them about the context of their MP3 experience.
4. Analyze the survey results and compare to the quantitative download data to ascertain to what degree our assumptions were valid or invalid, as well as determine how MP3 articles are used in different areas of the world.
5. Gather data to inform further research into this area.

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