Every second, 22 articles are downloaded from ScienceDirect

A look at the numbers behind Elsevier’s full-text database of journal articles and books

In 2012, approximately 700 million full-text articles were downloaded from ScienceDirect – that’s 22 articles per second and 12% increase from 2011.

Every year our product groups compile data on how well they performed to include in the Reed Elsevier Annual Report. This year, metrics on article usage stood out.

The first pertains to the core reason Elsevier exists: providing high-quality scientific information.

In 2012, approximately 700 million full-text articles were downloaded from ScienceDirect – that’s 22 articles per second and 12% increase from 2011. These articles were downloaded by an average of nearly 10 million unique users each month, with the number reaching 11 million per month in the fourth quarter.

How do we come up with these numbers? Basically, we count machine cookies. In doing this, we make a distinction between customer users and guest users. The 10 million figure is based on the machine cookies we counted for our customer accounts only. This means that the actual number of visitors is a lot higher, as there are 10 million guest account users who don’t have subscription access.

So it’s safe to say that the actual number of unique visitors is between 10 and 20 million, but we can’t be precise due to some overlap between our customer and guest-user accounts.

Either way, those who are looking for authoritative research have come to the right place. There are now more than 11 million articles accessible via ScienceDirect, and we expect to add another 365,000 this year. Those final articles will come from over 1 million article submissions that will produce more than 1.3 million review reports. To store all this data, we use 11 terabytes (11,000 GB) of server space for ScienceDirect.

These figures are an indication of what I’d call our scientific footprint. It reminds of the enormous responsibility we have to serve millions of scientists with the content, platforms and tools to make sure they can be great at what they do. But it also reminds us to focus on what makes ScienceDirect so popular; we can never let the “numbers” obscure what’s most important – the needs of the individual user.

Ultimately our job is to make ScienceDirect a great platform one user at a time. For those of you who have given us feedback to make these improvements, we thank you.


Elsevier’ Top 10 journals

(Articles downloaded)

  1. Cell
  2. The Lancet
  3. Tetrahedron Letters
  4. Food Chemistry
  5. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
  6. Biomaterials
  7. Bioresource Technology
  8. Journal of Power Source
  9. Tetrahedron
  10. Journal of the American College of Cardiology

[divider] Harald Boersma

The Author

Harald Boersma (@hboersma) is Director of Global Corporate Relations at Elsevier. He is based in Amsterdam.

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2 Archived Comments

Alison Bert, Editor-in-Chief March 29, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Felicidades y gracias por su amable comentario. Elsevier continúa invirtiendo en la identificación de las brechas de acceso y la búsqueda de soluciones viables para garantizar que todos tengan acceso a contenidos de calidad científica. Aquí hay más información sobre nuestras iniciativas de acceso universal: http://www.elsevier.com/about/universal-access/access-initiatives

We thank you for your kind words. Elsevier continues to invest in identifying access gaps and finding workable solutions to ensure that everyone has access to quality scientific content. Here is more information about our Universal Access initiatives: http://www.elsevier.com/about/universal-access/access-initiatives

JOHNNYTURNER March 29, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Felicitaciones,esta es una obra de gran envergadura y utilidad para todos los científicos,médicos,estudiantes y otros en todo el planeta y una maravillosa herramienta en el avance de la ciencia.Pero les debo comentar que no es accesible para los que vivimos en Venezuela,ya que no podemos pagar 31 US dollars por artículo,que ustedes publican,mas si uno es investigador independiente.Debido a una pobre política de estado en cuanto a información científica y a control de cambio y suministro de dolares (Máximo 400 us dollars al año)para compras en el extranjero.En qué y cómo ustedes nos podrían ayudar.Gracias y nuevamente felicitaciones.