Oxford Text Archive – Downloads in 2015

Originally posted at blogs.it.ox.ac.uk on March 23, 2016 by Martin Wynne. IT Services at the University of Oxford has decided to delete a large number of historical blogs, and this is one of a number of posts related to the Oxford Text Archive which are being re-published here, after being laboriously retrieved from the archive provided by the Wayback Machine.

Analysis of the logs for downloads of resources from the Oxford Text Archive in the calendar year 2015 reveal a dramatic increase in usage. This increase can clearly be largely attributed to a number of factors, of which the most significant if the large number of additional texts from the Text Creation Partnership which became available via the OTA at midnight on the first day of the year, when it became legally possible to share them openly.

Most of the credit for this is due to the late Sebastian Rahtz, who did most of the work, ably assisted by James Cummings and Magdalena Turska. Sebastian, who passed away last week, has been instrumental in building and maintaining all of the technical infrastructure of the Oxford Text Archive in the past eight years or so. He will be sorely missed for this, and for the numerous other activities in which so many people became so reliant on him for his hard work, energy and brilliance.

Other factors aiding increased usage of the OTA include:

  • BNC free for download: at the start of 2014 the British National Corpus was made available for download for free, replacing the old system of paying for postal delivery of optical disks, and as word continues to spread about this development, so downloads continue to increase;
  • Freeing the texts: an ongoing programme of reassessing legacy data, and, where possible, removing access restrictions;
  • Higher visibility: resource discovery via the CLARIN Virtual Language Observatory, which aggregates OTA records and offers a new way for users to find the texts;
  • Shibbolization: a small and growing number of resources are available currently for UK users only, but soon to be opened Europe-wide thanks to the CLARIN and EduGAIN;
  • More digital research: demand grows as more users in the humanities start to engage in digital scholarship.

The grand total for the discrete downloads of resources from the Oxford Text Archive was 917077. Of these 180452 could be identified as originating from users in the University of Oxford, approximately 20%. Of the total downloads, more than 99.5% were direct downloads of resources made available at open URLs, the rest made up of the various resources where access restrictions require authorization.

The table below shows the top twenty of the downloads of all types:

Number of downloads ID (with link) Title
10659 2542 VOICE: Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English
9181 5268 The history of the most noble Order of the Garter: Wherein is set forth an account of the town, castle, chappel, and college of Windsor; … To which is prefix’d, a discourse of knighthood in general, … Collected by Elias Ashmole, … The whole illustrated with proper sculptures.
6957 3016 The spy who came in from the cold
6382 4431 An account of the proceedings against the rebels, and other prisoners, tried before the Lord Chief Justice Jefferies: and other judges in the west of England, in 1685. for taking arms under the Duke of Monmouth. … To which is prefix’d, the Duke of Monmouth’s, the Earl of Argyle’s, and the Pretender’s declarations, that the reader may the better judge of the cause of the several rebellions.
5266 5314 The peerage of Scotland: containing an historical and genealogical account of the nobility of that kingdom, … collected from the public records, and ancient chartularies of this nation, … Illustrated with copper-plates. By Robert Douglas, Esq;.
4806 5301 The peerage of Scotland: containing an historical and genealogical account of the nobility of that Kingdom. … By George Crawfurd, Esq;.
4480 3549 The four seasons, and other poems. By James Thomson
4255 5299 The history and antiquities of the town and county of the town of Newcastle upon Tyne: including an account of the coal trade of that place and embellished with engraved views of the publick buildings, &c. … By John Brand, … [pt.1]
4146 3151 New York newspaper advertisements and news items: 1777-1779
3377 5244 The history of Newcastle upon Tyne: or, the ancient and present state of that town. By the late Henry Bourne, …
3175 3094 The Life of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell
3154 5309 The history of English poetry: from the close of the eleventh to the commencement of the eighteenth century. To which are prefixed, two dissertations. … By Thomas Warton, … [pt.2]
2984 4835 The history and antiquities of the county palatine, of Durham: by William Hutchinson … [pt.2]
2948 4652 Miscellaneous works: of Edward Gibbon, Esquire. With memoirs of his life and writings, composed by himself: illustrated from his letters, with occasional notes and narrative, by John Lord Sheffield. In two volumes. … [pt.1]
2410 5308 The history of English poetry: from the close of the eleventh to the commencement of the eighteenth century. To which are prefixed, two dissertations. … By Thomas Warton, … [pt.1]
2321 4949 The history of the parishes of Whiteford, and Holywell
2252 4786 The history of Scotland from the accession of the House of Stuart to that of Mary. With appendixes of original papers. By John Pinkerton. In two volumes.: [pt.1]
2209 5730 Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
2118 4384 Charles and Charlotte: In two volumes. [pt.2]
2079 2554 British National Corpus, XML edition

And the table below shows the most popular items with access restrictions, which required an online application and manual authorization before they could be downloaded. There were 3681 of these downloads – over the year an average of ten per day which needed to be manually authorized by a member of staff.

Number of downloads ID (with link) Title
1857 2554 British National Corpus, XML edition
411 2553 British National Corpus, Baby edition
324 2539 British Academic Written English Corpus
220 2474 The Lancaster Corpus of Mandarin Chinese
93 1477 Helsinki corpus of English texts
81 2551 British National Corpus Sampler
79 2525 British Academic Spoken English corpus
62 0163 Complete corpus of Old English: the Toronto dictionary of Old English corpus / compiled by the University of Toronto Centre for Medieval Studies
53 2462 The York-Toronto-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Old English prose (YCOE)
52 2510 Parsed Corpus of Early English Correspondence (PCEEC)
50 2507 A Corpus of English Dialogues 1560-1760 (CED)
31 2488 Dictionary of Old English Corpus in Electronic Form (DOEC)

There were 321 downloads from the experimental site hosted by the Oxford e-Research Centre, where users can obtain authorization for an instant download of a small number of resources (of which the BNC is the most popular) by authenticating with their institutional single sign-on. Only eighteen of these downloads were from the University of Oxford.


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