The Impacts of Digital Collections: Early English Books Online & House of Commons Parliamentary Papers

57 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2016 Last revised: 5 Apr 2016

See all articles by Eric T. Meyer

Eric T. Meyer

UT Austin iSchool; University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Kathryn Eccles

University of Oxford

Date Written: March 1, 2016


In 2015, in cooperation with ProQuest, Jisc commissioned this study of the Impacts of Digital Collections focused on two particular collections: Early English Books Online (EEBO) and House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (HCPP). These two collections are just a fraction of the number of collections that Jisc has purchased on behalf of its member institutions. While an understanding of these two collections is not necessarily generalizable to all digital collections (or even all Jisc-provided collections), they were selected because they are both relatively mature in the sense of having been available to users for over a decade, were thought to be well-known in the research community, and also appeal to users from multiple disciplines.

The report includes 10 main highlights from the research:

1. The context of the use of digital resources is changing, but these changes are incremental and have a long development cycle prior to the realisation of impact.

2. The usage of both Early English Books Online and House of Commons Parliamentary Papers has been increasing steadily over the past decade.

3. While researchers at top universities are most likely to use EEBO and HCPP, less research-intensive HE institutions also benefit from both collections.

4. Researchers rely heavily on specific digital collections that they return to regularly, which is resulting in incremental changes in scholarly behaviour.

5. Resource use in the humanities is extremely diverse, and this makes providing access to needed resources and tools particularly challenging.

6. The citation evidence that is available shows a growing literature that mentions using EEBO or HCPP, and these publications in turn are reasonably well-cited.

7. The number and range of disciplines that refer to EEBO and HCPP is much more diverse than expected.

8. Researchers are more concerned with the content and functionality of the digital collections than in who provides the access.

9. The UK is unusual for providing national-level access across institutions through Jisc’s national purchasing.

10. Shifts to humanities data science and data-driven research are of growing interest to scholars, although there is still plenty of room for growth in this focus on digital humanities, particularly in teaching.

The report concludes by arguing that digital collections have become fundamental to modern scholarship.

Keywords: digital libraries, digital collections, early english books online, house of commons, house of commons parliamentary papers, jisc, proquest

Suggested Citation

Meyer, Eric T. and Meyer, Eric T. and Eccles, Kathryn, The Impacts of Digital Collections: Early English Books Online & House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (March 1, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Eric T. Meyer (Contact Author)

UT Austin iSchool ( email )

Austin, TX
United States

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St Giles
Oxford, OX1 3JS
United Kingdom
01865 287210 (Phone)
01865 287211 (Fax)


Kathryn Eccles

University of Oxford ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

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