During June 2012, we undertook a survey of British History Online's registered user base looking at their opinions towards the issue of sustainability. This is the first in a series of blog posts in which we explore the results and deals specifically with the issue of hidden savings.
We asked our users the following question:
Thinking about when you have used British History Online, has it ever saved you making a journey from your home to a library?
If they replied 'yes', we asked a series of follow-up questions to ascertain how many journeys were saved, their mode of transport, the distance travelled, the duration of the journey and cost of any ticket. By combining these figures, we have estimated the level of saving in terms of time and cost achieved by researchers who use the service.
Our methodology is at an early stage; in its draft form, it shows that, on a conservative estimate, we save the United Kingdom Higher Education community interested in history approximately £1.2 million per annum. This equates to around 71k individuals, just over the average number of users which visit BHO in one week.
The methodology also allows us to look at reducing carbon emissions which have to be reported by universities to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) from 2013. We'll be publishing this methodology in full over the coming weeks.