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Gearing Up for the 2018 US Faculty Survey
Notes from ALA Midwinter

Ithaka S+R is gearing up for our seventh national US Faculty Survey on the research and teaching practices, perceptions, and needs of scholars at four year colleges and universities. Last week at ALA Midwinter, we had the opportunity to meet with library deans and directors and past local survey participants to discuss the evolution of this national survey and gather feedback on possible directions for future coverage.

In the years since we first developed the survey, we’ve witnessed transformative change that has had a real impact on library services and collections. In our 2015 survey cycle specifically, we expanded our survey population to include faculty members in the field of medicine, enhanced the administration of the national survey through lessons learned with our local survey participants, and explored new topics including data management and digital research practices. Some of the most noteworthy findings from this cycle included:

  • Traditional scholarly incentives continue to motivate behaviors around research and its dissemination. Faculty members generally believe that more recognition should be awarded for traditional research publications, such as journal articles and books, as compared to research products, such as data, images, media, and blog posts. And faculty members performing research are most interested in reaching scholars in their specific subdiscipline or field of research and most frequently share their findings in peer-reviewed journals and published conference proceedings, consistent with findings with the previous cycle of the survey.
  • Faculty members prefer to be self-reliant in their data management and preservation processes. Faculty members tend to favor tools that allow them to manage or preserve their data on their own as opposed to support from other entities within and outside of their college or university. Nearly 90% of respondents organize these data on their own computer.
  • While library directors are deeply committed to supporting student success, many find it difficult to articulate these contributions and many faculty members do not recognize these contributions. Approximately eight in ten library director respondents from the 2016 Ithaka S+R Library Survey indicated that the most important priority for their library is supporting student success, although only about half of respondents reported that their library has clearly articulated how it contributes towards student success. Further, while roughly eight in ten library directors agreed that librarians at their institutions contribute significantly to student learning in a variety of ways, only about half of faculty members from the Ithaka S+R Faculty Survey 2015 recognized these contributions.

Our discussions at ALA Midwinter both confirmed the importance of our coverage of these issues and directed our attention towards possible areas of expansion for the questionnaire in several areas:

  • How do faculty perceive the library’s contributions towards student success?
  • What challenges do faculty face in disseminating their research and publications more widely?
  • Do faculty see a role for the library in supporting research reproducibility?
  • How do faculty use and perceive open educational resources?

Over the next month we will be gathering input from a variety of advisors for this project, and we look forward to continuing to share updates in the coming months on the direction of the 2018 survey questionnaire.

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