Internet access to research results: an evolving effort
Since October 1995, our Research Work Unit of the US Forest Service has operated a Web site to disseminate research results. Initially, this took the form of basic information about the Unit's goals, organization, research problems, cooperators, etc. Over time the site has expanded to provide lists of available publications, abstracts of those publications, abstract searching, publications request forms, and electronic versions of publications. As part of the Forest Service's commitment to customer service, each reprint request or publication download also offers site visitors the opportunity to provide feedback to our Unit and to Forest Service headquarters using a customer survey questionnaire. The Web server's visitor log file has enabled us to analyze visitor usage and to make some valuable inferences about visitor preferences for particular subjects and for the technical content of research reports. The evolution of our Web site is described and some site-access statistics indicate how site visitors make use of the information provided there and how they respond to this mode of technology transfer. Since publications have been made available on our site more than 15, 000 reprints have been distributed either in paper form or electronically, averaging approximately 700 per month currently. Many of these requests have originated internationally, mirroring the extensive reach of the Internet, and thereby including clientele that are otherwise excluded via traditional channels. Visitor response has continually encouraged the use of electronic documents (PDF files) due to their speed, quality, and ease of access.