Questions about who reads what academics write - and what they do with the information having read it - are fascinating. But when questions are set only in the context of giving a rationale to funding decisions, a broader perspective is lost.
When I retired I put my work online, free for anyone to download. Five years on, I have a website that gets 7,500 visits a month.
This sounds like a readership well beyond the dreams of ordinary academic vanity. Academics are starting to put their reading lists online with hyperlinks to online sources. As a result, I am discovering which university has assigned which of my papers and for what course - and how many students have clicked on the links. Of course, I can't see how many then cited the paper - or, for that matter, plagiarised it.
But as more academic work appears on the web, it will become relatively easy to devise metrics to tell us who is reading what, where and to what effect. At the very least, this will be a corrective to the approaches - including the parochial and self-serving - Jon which academics now rely.