News Archive


Statistically Speaking… Tracking CanLit Guides Traffic

September 9, 2019

In late May, CanLit Guides ticked over the one-year mark since the launch of our 2018 Collection. At that time, we were thrilled to learn that we had received the 2019 Scholarly and Research Communication Journal Innovation Award. The award is intended to recognize the impact and results of innovations made by journals to expand the communication of scholarship, to promote engagement and enhance readership, and to build scholarly communities. The happy coincidence of the award and anniversary made for an especially welcome occasion to revisit the CanLit Guides project’s history and consider the contemporary impact of the 2018 Collection. Statistically speaking, the numbers are inspiring to say the least. In the span of just over a year since our 2018 launch, the CanLit Guides website has been visited over a quarter of a million times, by 75,000 users from 184 countries. That’s certainly a lot of CanLit being spread over ~95% of the international community!

What can we learn from these stats about the kind of contribution the project is making? Figuring out how often the online content is accessed or where it travels is one thing. Knowing how it circulates, why it’s used, whom it reaches, or to what effect is a different beast. (Which is why we love to hear feedback from our users, and have added a “Tell Us What You Think” feature to the sidebars of our chapters.) Assessing the impact of scholarly dissemination is always a challenge, and the totally open-access nature of the CanLit Guides presents its own unique circumstances. “Impact” and “results” are sticky words, too, in the fields of education, literary studies, and the humanities more generally. What are the actual “results” of an educational resource like this? By which metrics are they indexed? How can we measure “impact”?

These questions are not unique to the CanLit Guides, but part of broader and convoluted discussions about how teaching, learning, and scholarship are quantified in higher education and beyond. Establishing measurable results or outcomes can be problematic in fields where the qualitative is not easily quantifiable. The wide range of what can be considered valuable (and by whom) in the lit classroom is not always reflected in standardized metrics used to evaluate the impact of teaching or learning. (Canadian Literature editor Laura Moss discusses many of these complexities in her editorial “Auditing, Counting, and Tracking CanLit”). The numbers tell us CanLit Guides is being widely used, but its impacts are unique to the spaces where it’s used, contingent on the experiences of those who use it, and often made in relations and exchanges between the communities of students, instructors, and public users it’s designed to support.

So, stats can help to tell a story, but they are not the story. Still, for an entirely online resource such as this, the most accessible and powerful tool at our disposal for gauging engagement is web analytics (Google), which offers a range of data sets that enable us to better understand how the site is being used, from where, on what platforms, in which languages, for how long, on what pages, and so on. It also helps us to see how trends develop over time as the content of the CanLit Guides evolves and as the interests amongst its users shift. In late April, we conducted an audit of some of our high-level web statistics for the ~11-month period since the May 2018 launch of the 2018 Collection. We then placed this data alongside the comparable prior-year period to see what we could learn. What story do the numbers tell?

Pre-2018 Collection
22 May 2017–15 Apr. 2018
Post-2018 Collection
22 May 2018–15 Apr. 2019
Year-over-year
           Δ
Total Page Views 100,051 207,871 + 107.77%
Most page views, 1-day 1,064 (Sep 25, 2017) 1,995 (Apr 7, 2019) + 87.50%
Total Users 24,804 58,105 + 134.26%
Users from Canada 14,691 (59.27% of total) 25,701 (44.23% of total) + 74.94%
Countries of Access 150 178 + 28
Reading lists generated 29 47 + 161%

Source: Google Analytics and WordPress

Big picture, it’s an exciting one. The number of page views and users visiting the site have both more than doubled since last year, and our analytics show significant increases in web traffic and utilization of CanLit Guides content across all major metrics. In fact, more users made more visits to the website last year than in the previous two years combined. The popularity of the new 2018 content and the new accessibility features of our redesigned website are reflected in a significant increase in the number of custom CanLit Guides reading lists that have been curated and downloaded by users, both with and without academic institutional affiliations.

Placing these numbers into broader historical perspective is illuminating, particularly in terms of geographical reach. Since CanLit Guides was first launched back in 2010, it has always attracted a healthy amount of traffic and a global community of users, and these numbers have steadily grown along with the project. In its first year, our website had 18,701 users from 121 different countries who visited ~75,000 pages (by comparison, the 2018 numbers are roughly triple these, with a wider international reach). The vast majority of that traffic was, predictably, from Canada (nearly 80%), followed by the US (7%), and then India, the UK, Poland, Germany, Australia, Spain, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. By 2017, the percentage of Canadian users was still an overwhelming majority, but had dipped to ~60%. Looking at the 2018 stats in the context of this broader trend, what is interesting is not just the exciting increase in traffic, but also the increasingly international make-up of our user-base. Our number of Canadian users, while up ~75% year-over-year, is actually much lower as a percentage of our overall user base, now at 44%. So, less than half of the traffic on our Canadian literature resource is now coming from Canada.

Top 10 countries by % of overall users
Of 178 total countries accessing from 22 May 2018–15 Apr. 2019
1. Canada 44.2% 6. Nigeria 1.9%
2. US 19.4% 7. Philippines 1.9%
3. India 8.5% 8. Pakistan 1.1%
4. UK 5.0% 9. Kenya 1.1%
5. Australia 2.5% 10. Germany 1.0%

Source: Google Analytics

This tells an interesting story, particularly in the context of the Canadian government’s cutbacks to financial support of international Canadian Studies programs in 2012. It seems notable, too, that there are now more users accessing our content from Nigeria, Pakistan, and Kenya than from European countries like Germany, Italy, Spain, or Poland where the university study of Canadian literature has traditionally found institutional support. (More on this in Eva Darias-Beautell’s introduction to Canadian Literature’s special issue 238 Rescaling CanLit: Global Readings). Nevertheless, if the CanLit Guides are any measure, engagement with CanLit is alive and well abroad, especially in the US, which now accounts for one out of every five visits we receive.

Some other interesting stats over the past year:

  • Roughly half of our Canadian traffic is from Ontario (48%), followed by BC (24%), Alberta (12%), and Quebec (5%). Toronto leads the way in terms of visits by Canadian city (15%), then Vancouver (7%), Edmonton (5%), Calgary (5%), and Ottawa (4.5%).
  • Chicago is the third-most active city in terms of web traffic globally (after Toronto and Vancouver). We received more visitors from Chennai than Montreal, from Sydney than Saskatoon, from Nairobi than Hamilton, and from Saint Petersburg than Quebec City.
  • Around 30% of our users now access the CanLit Guides on mobile phones, 3% on tablets, and the remaining two-thirds on computers.
  • The most active day in our website’s history was April 7, 2019, with ~2,000 pageviews. Interestingly, this was a Sunday. Not coincidentally, it was the day before final exams began at many Canadian universities.
  • The most frequently accessed chapter from our new 2018 Collection is An Introduction to the Short Story in Canada: Reading Alice Munro’s Who Do You Think You Are?.
  • Among the new chapters, those focusing on individual authors and/or texts (e.g., on Marie Clements’ Burning Vision, Dionne Brand’s No Language is Neutral, or Joy Kogawa’s Obasan) tend to generate slightly more traffic than chapters dedicated to historical/cultural context (e.g., Multiculturalism, Censorship), literary/cultural theory (e.g., Diaspora Studies, Border Studies), or genre (e.g., Comics, Periodicals).
  • Two skills-based guides—on Close Reading Prose and Close Reading Poetry—are among the most popular and frequently accessed on the site as a whole.
  • Chapters on Indigenous writers, texts, and literary history account for the largest number of visits and visitors collectively. The chapters on Tekahionwake/E. Pauline Johnson, on Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach, on Orature and Literature, and on Tomson Highway’s The Rez Sisters are particularly popular.

While we are open to the public and attract many non-academic users, stats about the use of our content are undoubtedly reflective of larger trends and dynamics in the field today, including who is teaching Canadian literature, where it is institutionalized in curricula and syllabi, and which texts/authors are most prevalent in those locations. These figures can be read for the stories they tell about CanLit Guides usage, just as the Guides are part of a larger story about how CanLit is being taught, studied, valued, and critically engaged more generally.

Have a story about your experiences using the CanLit Guides? We welcome your feedback, opinions, constructive criticisms, and any other comments!

—Brendan McCormack, Senior Editorial Assistant


2019 Scholarly and Research Communication Journal Innovation Award

June 7, 2019

Photo (from left to right): Rowly Lorimer, Editor of Scholarly and Research Communication / Donna Chin, Managing Editor / Emmanuel Hogg, President of the Canadian Association of Learned Journals

We have some great news to share! Canadian Literature has been awarded the 2019 Scholarly and Research Communication Journal Innovation Award for the CanLit Guides project, more specifically for the 2018 Collection of chapters. The award intends to recognize “new Canadian scholarly journal communication initiatives that are designed to increase the influence of a journal among readers and are noted by peers as significant. More generally, the award is intended to underline the creative and innovative contributions that scholarly journals make to effective and inspired scholarly communication.”

The CanLit Guides 2018 Collection was edited by Kathryn Grafton, Ceilidh Hart, Laura Moss, and Shannon Smyrl. Congratulations to the editors, the contributors, and the journal staff who worked together to make the innovations happen.

We were presented the award at the Canadian Association of Learned Journals AGM at Congress held at the University of British Columbia this past weekend. It is a wonderful way to celebrate the anniversary of the launch of the new chapters one year ago at Congress 2018. For more information about the award, kindly visit https://www.calj-acrs.ca/news/src-innovation-award.


From the Editors: Reflecting on the CanLit Guides 2018 Edited Collection

January 31, 2019

We’re thrilled to welcome the new year with the CanLit Guides 2018 Edited Collection finished, polished, published online, and already being used in university classrooms across Canada and beyond. Since we launched the collection in May, CanLit Guides has been viewed more than 120,000 times by users all over the world!

This ambitious and innovative project began more than two years ago, and involved countless hours of workshopping, writing, revising, writing, and revising again. We’re immensely grateful for the time and energy our authors dedicated to the project, and we’re immensely proud of the results.

With the project now officially wrapped up, here are a few things I’m taking away with me: Canadian literature is as dynamic a conversation as ever. Scholars in the field are not afraid to ask challenging questions—of their students and of themselves—and engage with important issues. There is a great deal of energy for bringing research and teaching together in ways that support student learning—and countless examples of this kind of work happening in the field. And, finally, we can achieve so much more when we collaborate than we can on our own. What a gift it was to work with and learn from this talented group of scholars.

Happy new year, happy reading, happy studying!

— Ceilidh Hart, Assistant Editor


The CanLit Guides 2018 Collection: Six Months Later

November 14, 2018

At Congress in June 2018, CanLit Guides officially launched The 2018 Collection. This new collection of sixteen chapters, written and peer-reviewed by field experts and edited by the CanLit Guides team, is an impressive set of resource materials that cover a wide range of topics, time periods, and genres. We’re proud to add such a fantastic set of educational chapters to our robust collection.

Have you had a chance to read through these chapters? If so, you’re among the 25,000+ educators, students, and other users from across Canada and the world who have accessed CanLit Guides 88,000+ times since May.

We’re excited to see these numbers continue to grow. And don’t worry: CanLit Guides has always been, and will continue to be, free and open-access to the public.

Happy reading!


CanLit Guides Workshop – May 25-26, 2016

June 23, 2016

CanLit Guides - 2016 Workshop - group photo resized

CanLit Guides 2016 Workshop Participants

From May 25 to 26, 2016, Canadian Literature hosted scholars from across the country for the first CanLit Guides Workshop at UBC’s Vancouver Campus. The workshop aimed to foster a sense of community amongst post-secondary educators specializing in Canadian literature, generate discussion on approaches to teaching CanLit, and produce new chapters for CanLit Guides (an open-access teaching resource produced by Canadian Literature).

The event marks a shift in how we produce CanLit Guides: previously, chapters in the guides were written in-house by editors and graduate students; now, we have transitioned to a system where area specialists write chapters. Prior to the workshop itself, participants drafted 16 new chapters on a wide range of topics (from Marie Clements’ Burning Vision to diasporic studies to comics and more). Then, participants gathered at UBC for a series of highly collaborative sessions to offer each other peer-review feedback on chapter drafts. Participants also discussed approaches to teaching and the future of CanLit Guides. The workshop was an opportunity for a community of academics to come together as teachers, share ideas about pedagogy, and translate research expertise into classroom learning.

Thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of our participants, the workshop was an energizing and productive event. Keep an eye out for new CanLit Guides chapters in the next year and, in the meantime, be sure to take a look at the newly redesigned website. Photos of the workshop can be found on Canadian Literature‘s Flickr page.

Canadian Literature would like to thank the following people and organizations for making the 2016 CanLit Guides Workshop such a success:

Workshop Participants

Sarah Banting, Shelley Boyd, Clint Burnham, Nathalie Cooke, Nadine Fladd, Brenna Gray, Ceilidh Hart, Tiffany Johnstone, Christine Kim, Lucia Lorenzi, Bronwyn Malloy, Sophie McCall, Brendan McCormack, Farah Moosa, Gillian Roberts, Shannon Smyrl, Katja Thieme, Camille Van der Marel, Carl Watts

Canadian Literature Team (Workshop Organizers)

Laura Moss, Kathryn Grafton, Donna Chin, Sheila Giffen, Josephine Lee, Christy Fong, Zoya Mirzaghitova

Sponsors

  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
  • Hampton Fund (UBC Office of the Vice-President)
  • UBC Faculty of Arts
  • SFU English Department
  • UBC English Department
  • UBC Centre for Student Involvement & Careers Work Learn Program
  • Green College
  • UBC Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology
  • SPARC (Support Programs to Advance Research Capacity)
  • Development and Alumni Engagement, Faculty of Arts, UBC
  • Museum of Anthropology
  • UBC Bookstore