Ecolynx Project: Information Context for Biodiversity Conservation

Costs to users of obtaining information

The section Trends in dissemination of electronic information describes the trends in the dissemination of electronic information, in particular the contrasting tendencies to produce "information for free for everyone" and "information of high value for those who can pay". In assessing possibilities for cost recovery in a volatile commercial environment, there are no clear answers to how much a user should pay for online access, or what they should get for what they pay. Use of commercial services like Dialog or Lexis-Nexis may involve contracting with a separate Internet provider, since most of these do not offer direct Internet access. The table on the following page, produced by Barbara Quint as editor of the Searcher magazine (Online, Inc, May 1996) provides some indication according to the type of request.

Barbara Quint makes the point that even data that are free to the end user are liable to be costing somebody something. Libraries often host CD-ROM databases that are available to any passing searcher, like their print collections.

The challenge for the proposed product is to position its access costs within this range as it evolves over time, possibly offering a variety of formulae according to the type of the user. These potentials will be tested out during the Implementation Phase in trials with user groups.


How much will it cost to find this item or information online.

Cheap (Free to $19.99) Mid-Range ($20 to $100) Expensive ($100 to $300) Major Expense ($300 and up, up, up)
A newspaper article $      
A patent $ $$    
A technical article from a scholarly journal   $$    
A recent statute $      
The text of a legal opinion. $      
A quick trademark search   $$    
A background check on Company X. (It’s publicly-owned.)   $$    
A profile of a privately owned company   $$ $$$  
Locating an expert for a consulting job   $$    
A short list of articles and books on a topic   $$    
Prices for my stock portfolio $      
Background check on an individual   $$ $$$  
Quick fact check $ $$    
Keeping up to date all year on my key topics     $$$  
An industry overview   $$ $$$  
A complete multicompany, market research study       $$$$
A complete search on any company that might have used this trade name   $$    
Getting enough information so I can file a patent       $$$$