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Please join the Research IT Reading Group in discussing the use of Google Analytics at the University and Jepson Herbaria.


  • David Baxter, Biodiversity Informatics Manager, University and Jepson Herbaria

David will discuss the University and Jepson Herbaria's use of Google Analytics. The collection of this data drives decisions about the collection's user interface and user experience. Please review the following prior to the July 2nd meeting:

When: Thursday, July 2 from noon - 1pm
Where: 200C Warren Hall, 2195 Hearst St (see building access instructions on parent page). 
Event format: The reading group is a brown bag lunch (bring your own) with a short ~20 min talk followed by ~40 min group discussion.


David Baxter


Chris Hoffman
Patrick Schmitz
Jason Christopher
Camille Villa
Aaron Culich
Perry Willett
Aron Roberts
David Baxter
Stephen Carrier
Jamie Wittenberg
Rick Jaffe
Barbara Gilson
Regina Xu


Chris: David came to Berkeley two years ago to fill the shoes of Dick Moe, botanist and programmer. Had built a sophisticated system of applications in the herbaria, this system evolved in a chaotic way over the years.  Master’s at the University of Toronto I School, BS in Biodiversity and Ecology, senior thesis on the ecology of Great Lakes wetlands

David: This paper was spearheaded by Tim Jones as a chapter of his PhD thesis

Our relationship began as a barrier, later described in the paper, I couldn’t give him access to our Google Analytics information b/c of account permissions.  the person who has administration privileges for the account no longer works at the herbaria.

this study wants to study how many biodiversity resources are being accessed

Gooogle analytics is a standard platform, good for comparing analyses

in the introduction: herbaria services were analog for hundreds of years, methods for tracking and demonstrating value were analog too (e.g. a sign-in book, loan records and accession records going back hundreds of years)

Are these resources effective at delivering information throughout the world?

Can we create a metric for tracking botanical work done online globally?

15 different websites participated

Consortium of California Herbaria (CCH) aggregates specimen records from 35 institutions

Jepson eFlora — a massive reference document, published print 2012 and continues to be updated on an annual basis digitally

different consortia for various regional or taxonomic groups

examining analytics such as:

operating system

bounce rates

social shares / note: Google classifies Blogger, Wordpress as social, but other types of blogs are counted as referrals. Wikipedia is also classified as social, for some reason

Patrick: what conversations did you have at CCH about low search and highest referrals, compared with the other participants.

David: Top referral is, an aggregator of California floristic information from a variety of sources

David: CalFlora was once a project inside of the Jepson Herbaria, splintered off and maintain their website independently now

Patrick: division of labor within the herbaria?

David: CCH aggregating data, CalFlora able to work more on UI and user experience

looking at new and returning users

CCH has highest rate of returning users, important for these professional websites

Europeana paper argued that returning users are underreported (different devices, cookies expire)

mobile access growing, despite the fact that there’s not a ton of mobile friendliness in these websites

Patrick: do any of these websites work with mobile apps like iNaturalist?


Symbiota - popular for collaborative digitization efforts

Tropicos - global authority website on plant taxonomy, used as a resource for taxonomic authority in California, additional information

Patrick: what do you think the Herbaria wants to do with this? What further questions or actions to take?

David: Jepson eFlora is more urgent in this discussion, we have all this data and have a pretty close relationship with our audience of professional and amateur botanists. We observe that this is a dedicated but also frustrated audience that wants mobile identification resources.  

Patrick: issue of connectivity in the field? maybe an offline option would be useful

David: we have the book (too heavy), the ebook (not popular)...electronic offline options would be in an app. connectivity at field stations, good coverage in California but still…

Google campaigns not the best candidate for a scientific resource...what would be a tangible “conversion”? citations?

Aaron: is there a place on the website where you’re collecting stories from people about how they’re using this?

David: I’ve had a few come to me ad hoc, for example a woman using a specimen collected in Shasta county in the 1930s to push back on logging efforts

I maintain a Google Scholar profile for CCH that can be cited, this resource has been cited in over 90 scholarly resources since 2007, etc.

Perry: we’ve been talking about assigning DOIs to field stations

David: As of the newest release of GBIF's Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT), every time a data provider updates their data resource, a new DOI is minted for that version. For example, the CCH resource in is updated monthly + incidentally (currently version 32). If/when BNHM updates to the newest version of IPT, each subsequent version will be given a DOI, so when someone cites the CCH including the DOI we could trace exactly what version that person was using.

Jamie: Europeana paper discusses high rate of returning users attributed to strong integration in French school curriculum

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