350,000 hits for UCD Scholarcast in first six months

UCD SCHOLARCAST has received over 350,000 hits since it was launched last semsester. The website, which hosts a series of research-based podcasts contributed by academics, has been in operation since the end of April 2008. The podcasts are available not only to UCD students and staff, but also to those from universities worldwide.Director for UCD Scholarcast, Dr P.J. Mathews, said that the project has been “reasonably successful” and commented that the availability of the podcasts was a strong contributing factor to its success. “Most downloading of this kind comes from outside UCD and in fact, outside Ireland,” explained Dr Mathews “It’s not exclusive to the UCD audience and community. This particular form of podcasting is bringing the expertise of UCD to the world.”The majority of online visits came from an international audience, with particular interest from countries such as the US, Australia, France, Japan, the UK and Russia. Dr Mathews believes the success of the website is, in part, due to the advantages of distributing the podcasts on the Internet and the low cost involved. “In this format, it can really reach a wider audience at no additional cost,” stated Dr Mathews. “It’s also a lot easier because the Internet self-advertises, which saves a lot of costs.”Dr Mathews refered to the increase in interest in online resources, saying that “there seems to be a growing demand for users, digital natives who’ve grown up used to this. It seems to me that the demand was only going to grow.” Dr Mathews mentioned that UCD hasrecognised the demand for podcast material and has set up a taskforce to discuss how best to use the technology.The latest installment of Scholarcast, entitled ‘The Archaeology of Art’, will be made available in December. When UCD was hosting the Sixth World Archaeology Congress in July, Dr Matthews saw it as a natural choice for Scholarcast’s second edition. “The world’s finest archaeologists were descending on UCD and I thought that needed to be captured,” he explained. “Also, we have some interesting and really lively archaeologists here in our own school of archaelogy.”The first series of Scholarcast focused on Irish Studies and was entitled ‘The Art of Popular Culture: From The Meeting of the Waters to Riverdance’. Each podcast is provided by academics from UCD and other universities across the country.Dr Matthews was quick to stress that Scholarcast is not the only podcast service at UCD but he believes what sets Scholarcast aside from the others was the decision to accompany each episode with a transcript so that it can be cited like any other published research.