Copac User Survey 2014

“Invaluable resource.”

Many thanks to all the 1,073 people who completed the Copac user survey in November 2014. Our annual survey helps us to gain an insight into how well the Copac service is supporting your research and other activity, to identify the areas where you feel we could be doing better, as well as to gather your thoughts on new facilities that you would value.

We particularly appreciate that so many survey respondents expressed an interest in being involved in ongoing development activity. Last year some survey respondents subsequently took part in detailed testing of changes to the Copac interface. This is enormously valuable for us as the service develops – we couldn’t do it without you.

The following gives a brief summary of the survey results, with more details available for download.

Copac User survey 2014: summary

Most Copac users are from the UK (79%) and Europe (13%) with the remainder from range of different countries widely spread across the world giving researchers everywhere a picture of the wealth of research materials available in the UK.

The largest group of Copac users are from Further and Higher education (UK 62%), with the remainder coming from a range of organisations in both the public and private sector, as well as independent researchers. Most users are from the Humanities and Social Sciences, but there are users with an interest in subject areas across the board.

Many respondents are regular users of Copac, with some 74% of UK users saying they make use of the service at least once a week. For some people Copac is clearly an important support for their research and other activity. However, it is far from a static user group, with 343 people selecting the ‘first time user’ option which bypasses the survey to let them try using Copac.

The survey results show that time saving is an important feature, with most respondents (UK 92%) agreeing that Copac saves them time. The fact that the interface is seen as easy to use (UK 93%) is also likely to be part of its appeal. And we are pleased to know that that most respondents (UK 98%) would recommend the Copac service to others.

In terms of what respondents most value about Copac, many comments (50%) mentioned the range of contributors covered, along with location information, as being of particular value. This breadth of coverage also permits other activities mentioned, such as rarity checking. Many comments also mentioned the ease of use and range of facilities provided (25% of comments), whilst the data quality, the level of detail, and the reliability of the data were also mentioned as important (20% of comments).

In looking at what respondents said they would most like to change it has to be remembered the largest single group is those who have made no comment or in some cases actively prefer no change (50% of survey respondents). Where change was requested, 14% of comments mentioned specific changes or additions to the available facilities, with a further 10% of comments including requests for changes to the interface. Some 8% of comments were concerned with increasing the database coverage. Record quality and completeness was mentioned in some 5% of comments, whilst a similar 6% of comments requested improvements to record deduplication. These are areas that overlap to some degree, as the ability to deduplicate records within Copac is influenced by the quality and completeness of the data.

Next steps

In 2015 we will be moving Copac onto a new cloud platform. This will support the growth of the service as we continue to add new catalogues, something seen as important by many survey respondents.

Once the cloud move is complete we will be returning to the survey feedback to look at where we can best direct our development effort. We also plan to continue our work looking at the underlying data in terms of enhancing the record deduplication and data quality.

The full survey results can be downloaded: Copac Annual User Survey 2014 [pdf]


We welcome feedback at any time, as well as suggestions for new catalogues to include on Copac that would be of value to the research community. You can contact us via the helpdesk at:

Responding to your feedback

It’s that time of year where we ask for feedback from you through the Copac Annual survey. This is your opportunity to tell us about your use of Copac – including what you like and what you don’t like – and how you want the service to develop.

In previous surveys you said:

I’d like more coverage outside HE‘: We add new libraries every year and we are currently focused on specialist collections from libraries outwith the university sector, increasing the visibility of research collections that may be less well known.

Eliminate duplicate entries‘: The number of comments about duplicate records showed this was a significant issue for many people. We have therefore made some major changes to how we handle duplicates and the level of duplication has gone down. In particular we are now deduplicating records for pre-1800 materials; something we didn’t do in the past. Records for these early materials have particular complexities and we know we have more to do here, so this is something we will continue to work on.

Not always clear if journal is electronic or print‘: There was a need for us to indicate the format of a document more clearly. So amongst the interface changes this year we’ve added a ‘flag’ to show the format of each document. This isn’t perfect – as the records aren’t perfect – but it helps clarify the displays; again this is something we will work to refine over time.

Putting in a range of dates gives me too many extraneous records‘: A date range search on Copac is not straightforward as it needs to encompasses many different materials, including periodicals published over a long time period. But our original method of dealing with date ranges wasn’t working for everyone. We have now changed this so the date range search is much more precise.

We have also made a range of less obvious changes to the interface to make it more consistent, easier to use, and work more effectively with mobile devices.

We can’t implement everything you request, there may be technical or practical issues, or simply a difference of option – ‘Include more libraries’ vs ‘don’t add any more collections’. But we try to find a balanced way through such differences and the things we can’t implement now we retain for potential future development.

Volunteering to help us

In the last survey some respondents kindly supplied their contact details, expressing interest in further testing of Copac. We have recently taken some people up on this offer and with their help we are carrying out detailed testing of the Copac interface.

In the 2013 survey there was interest in: ‘a few ‘refine your search’ options (type of resource, creator, date, language, etc.)’. So we have also been asking our volunteers how they feel about the introduction of these types of ‘search facets’ – and which ones they’d find useful. The reaction has been positive, so we’ll be looking at this further next year.

What now?

At the moment we are beginning to work on a hardware move, taking Copac into the cloud onto a new and more flexible platform. This will be a major exercise, but once it is complete we’ll be working again on the Copac interface to see how we can best respond to your development requests, whilst balancing conflicting requirements – including the wishes of those who’s view is emphatic: ‘DON’T CHANGE IT!’

We rely on your feedback to help guide how Copac develops and to inform our funders about your views of the service. So, if you’ve not already done so please fill in our annual survey using the link on the home page – and contribute to shaping Copac in the future.

Copac User Survey 2013

“It is a dream resource. I am so GLAD it exists!”

In November 2013 we carried out our annual user survey. This is an important means for us to gather information about who is using Copac, how users feel about the service, and what changes they would like to see. We really appreciate the time taken by the 1193 users who filled in the survey giving us valuable feedback.

We are already making a few minor interface changes in response to some of the comments we’ve received. Later in the year we are planning an interface review and the survey feedback will be valuable input into this process. However, as we make changes we will bear in mind the need to balance development requests with the wishes of those who do not want the interface to become too complex.

The following gives a brief summary of the survey results, with more details available for download.

We welcome feedback at any time, as well as suggestions for new catalogues to include on Copac that would be of value to the research community. You can contact us via the helpdesk at:

2013 User Survey Summary

Copac provides a global window on UK research materials, so whilst most Copac users are from the UK (76%) or Europe (15%), we also had responses from users across the world. IN terms of background, the largest single group of users are within Higher Education (58%), followed by Independent researchers (12%); but Copac is of value in a diverse range of areas, including publishing and bookselling in the commercial sector.

In looking at their role, some 41% of UK users are academic staff, students, or researchers. After this the largest single group of UK users is library staff (37%) many of whom will also be part of the academic community. Copac users have diverse subject interests, with many users indicating an interest in multiple subjects, but the largest proportion of responses were for the Humanities (UK 35%) and Social Sciences (UK 19%).

For many users Copac is clearly a regular feature of their work with 74% of UK users accessing Copac at least once a week. And they clearly value the service, with 94% of UK respondents agreeing that Copac saves them time, whilst 94% of UK respondents also reporting that Copac is easy to use. We are particularly pleased to see that 99% of UK users would recommend Copac. For non-UK users results were similar, but with a slightly larger proportion of neutral responses.

We’ve had some really valuable comments about what people both like about Copac and what they want to change. Many responses include feedback in more than one category so the numbers reflect the number of comments rather than users.

The database coverage and location finding ability are important for many (UK 54%), with comments also referring to the database coverage as enabling collection assessment, planning library visits, doing bibliographical research, and assessing document rarity. Ease of use and the range of facilities was also commented on favourably (UK 22%), as was the quality and completeness of the data (UK 20%).

In terms of what changes people would like to see, some 62% or users either didn’t respond or actively didn’t want change, so it is in this context that we need to respond to the change requests received. The largest single group of change request comments related to the interface (11%) whilst, given the importance of the database coverage, it is unsurprising that requests for more catalogues also feature (6%). Another 6% of comments related to a desire for specific new or improved facilities, with a further 5% concerned with improved deduplication and 5% wanting improved/enhanced record content; though there is sometimes an acknowledgement that these latter areas are inter-related and neither is easy to resolve.

The full survey results can be downloaded: Copac User Survey November 2013

Copac annual survey, November 2012

Many thanks to the 1170 people who took the time to fill in our annual user survey during November 2012, the responses are enormously valuable in letting us see how we’re doing and how we can improve the way we support your research. We really appreciate the time our respondents put into this and the information we get – and some of the feedback we receive makes all the work worthwhile:

“Accessibility, spread, helpfulness. I remember when there was no Copac- IT WAS SO DIFFICULT!”

You can get a copy of the full survey results. But in summary…

Most Copac users are from within the UK (76%) but we have users from elsewhere in Europe and across the world. Many users are from within Higher Education (58%), but Copac is also useful to a diverse community including other educational groups, publishers, booksellers, people from museums and galleries, as well as many independent researchers. Our largest user group is academic staff, researchers and students (44%), followed by library staff (38%) and the main subject focus is within the humanities and social sciences, but subjects right across the spectrum were mentioned.

Many respondents use Copac at least weekly (74%) and they are, overall very positive about the service, with 91% finding Copac easy to use, whilst 91% agreed that their work would take more time without it. We are also very pleased to see that 97% of UK respondents would recommend Copac.

An important element of the survey is finding out what people most like about the Copac service and, conversely, would most like to change. Many responses included comments on multiple issues, so the percentages represent comments rather than users. In terms of what is most valued, 51% of comments related to database coverage/holdings-data/location finding; this is clearly an important element of the service, bringing together disparate and, in some cases, less well know collections of importance to researchers. A further 24% of comments were appreciative of the ease of use of the interface or focussed on particular facilities valued by the user, whilst 18% related to the quality of the data including the table-of-contents and reviews etc. that we add to the records.

The requests for changes are really valuable for helping us assess where we need to focus development effort to provide the best support for researchers and we had much valuable input here. Of those 46% of respondents that made suggestions the largest group of comments related to requests for changes or additions to the facilities available (22%) which is very helpful – but in some cases emphasises the need to support, as far as possible, those who are positive about particular aspects of the service as well as those who dislike the same things. Requests for improvements to data quality and content are not easy for us to address, but we do a certain amount in this area and this is something we can explore further. We have done some work on the number of duplicate records in the database and we are pleased to see this reflected in the reduced number of comments (6%) on this issue and it is an area that will improve further as we continue to develop the service.

If you have any comments about Copac or requests for new facilities etc. you can get in touch at any time via the Copac Helpdesk. We are always pleased to get feedback.

Copac user survey results 2012

Many thanks all those who filled in our annual user survey in Jan/Feb this year. This has given us some immensely valuable feedback and we really appreciate the time our 1,603 respondents put into this.

Overall most people are very happy with Copac but there were also plenty of good ideas for enhancements and additions. We are reviewing all the feedback and will use this to support the Copac development work currently underway, as well as helping us prioritise the next steps in the development of the service.

A summary report is available (below) but the main features are:

The Copac service is focussed on supporting the UK academic community and this is reflected in the fact that:

  • 76% of respondents are UK based or affiliated with a UK institution;
  • whilst 65% of users are based within the Higher Education sector;
  • There was representation across all subject areas, with the Humanities and Social Sciences representing 55% of subject choices.

Copac users are extremely positive about the service:

  • 91% of UK respondents agreed that using Copac saved them time;
  • and it was seen as easy to use by 90% of UK respondents;
  • with 97% of UK respondents saying they would recommend Copac to others.

We received really useful feedback about what people most valued about Copac. This grouped into three main areas of data coverage, ease of uses, and data quality.

We also has many very valuable comments about changes people would like to see, with diverse ideas relating particularly to interface facilities and deduplication, as well as increased library coverage, interface enhancements and record quality.

You can download the full report: Copac user survey 2012

Copac Beta trial interface

There is now a Beta version of the Copac interface available for trial at

We’re working towards making Copac a more personalised research tool and we’d love to have your feedback on the current range of developments. Try out the Beta version of Copac, explore the new features, then fill in a brief questionnaire to give us your views about the changes so far. In appreciation we’ll put your name in a hat to win a £35 Amazon voucher. The Beta interface will be available for comment until May 29th.

Note: Access to the Beta version of Copac is currently restricted to members of UK academic institutions, you will need to login with your university/college username (or Athens username). The developments will be made more widely available in the future and there will continue to be a free access version of Copac available to everyone.