A transaction log analysis of a digital library

Jones, S., Cunningham, S. J., McNab, R. J., Boddie, S. J. (2000) International Journal on Digital Libraries 3(2) 152-169.

As experimental digital library testbeds gain wider acceptance and develop significant user bases, it becomes important to investigate the ways in which users interact with the systems in practice. Transaction logs are one source of usage information, and the information on user behavior can be culled from them both automatically (through calculation of summary statistics) and manually (by examining query strings for semantic clues on search motivations and searching strategy). We have conducted a transaction log analysis on user activity in the Computer Science Technical Reports Collection of the New Zealand Digital Library, and report insights gained and identify resulting search interface design issues. Specifically, we present the user demographics available with our library, discuss the use of operators and search options in queries, and examine patterns in query construction and refinement. We also describe common mistakes in searching, and examine the distribution of query terms appearing in the logs.