User Survey Update

First, I have to give a big THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the recent user surveys for BHL. I really appreciate everyone’s willingness to tell us more about your experience using the site. This feedback will be incredibly useful for BHL as they look to move to their next version.

For my project, I categorized BHL users into three groups as I described in my earlier blog post including Consortium Users, System Users, and Individual Users and created a customized survey targeted to each user group. I used the SurveyMonkey platform for all of the surveys, and they were each live for three weeks.

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The Consortium and System User Surveys were both sent to relatively small groups of known users. The Consortium User Survey went to all BHL Members, Affiliates, and Partners and was comprised of ten questions delving into the preferences and recommendations of the members related to technical development going forward for BHL, while also asking them about their experience uploading content into BHL. The System User Survey went to representatives from external partners within the biodiversity community, as well as BHL API key holders, to garner their feedback on moving toward greater interoperability and working with the BHL data at a system level. These surveys were conducted recently, and I am in the process of analyzing the results.

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For the Individual User Survey, the distribution was broader – it was linked on the BHL website, promoted on BHL social media, and distributed to BHL and other biodiversity listservs. I have some preliminary results from the Individual User Survey, which Carolyn Sheffield, BHL Program Manager shared at the recent TDWG 2017 Annual ConferenceData Integration in a Big Data Universe: Associating Occurrences with Genes, Phenotypes, and Environments. Carolyn presented along with others from BHL in S10: 500 Years of Big Data from the Biodiversity Heritage Library and you can view the recording of those sessions here made possible by iDigBio. You can also follow along with the conversations from the conference on twitter at #TDWG17.

tdwg slide 110317.png                  View the full slideshow here.

Here’s a quick update on results thus far: There were over 600 respondents to the Individual Survey. About 50% of those respondents identified themselves as scientists/taxonomists, by far the largest user group. Approximately 60% of survey participants use BHL at least once a week and approximately 80% use BHL at least once a month. And respondents are using BHL most often to cite species and publish scholarly works. In terms of most valuable features, the top three for survey respondents were download options, content coverage, and scan quality. Going forward, the feature users would most like to see enhanced is search capability, especially in terms of inclusion of scientific name synonyms, filter by geographic data, and easier way to locate visual resources. Next steps are to finalize all of the survey analysis along with recommendations based on the user needs research to share in a final report for BHL.

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If you have any additional feedback or comments to share on your experience using BHL, please comment here, connect with me on twitter @Pam_McClanahan, or email me at!

Also, I’m looking forward to sharing more results later this month in our webinar series. Alicia and Katie will be presenting their webinars this week. Stay tuned for webinars and final recommendations from all of the residents!

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