Trends in access of plant biodiversity data revealed by Google Analytics

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The amount of plant biodiversity data available via the web has exploded in the last decade, but making these data available requires a considerable investment of time and work, both vital considerations for organizations and institutions looking to validate the impact factors of these online works. Here we used Google Analytics (GA), to measure the value of this digital presence. In this paper we examine usage trends using 15 different GA accounts, spread across 451 institutions or botanical projects that comprise over five percent of the world's herbaria. They were studied at both one year and total years. User data from the sample reveal: 1) over 17 million web sessions, 2) on five primary operating systems, 3) search and direct traffic dominates with minimal impact from social media, 4) mobile and new device types have doubled each year for the past three years, 5) and web browsers, the tools we use to interact with the web, are changing. Server-side analytics differ from site to site making the comparison of their data sets difficult. However, use of Google Analytics erases the reporting heterogeneity of unique server-side analytics, as they can now be examined with a standard that provides a clarity for data-driven decisions. The knowledge gained here empowers any collection-based environment regardless of size, with metrics about usability, design, and possible directions for future development.

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Biodiversity data journal

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