Study reveals snapshot of researchers' information behaviour

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Ithaka S+R has conducted its fifth survey of faculty members at four-year colleges and universities in the USA. The latest study looked at a random sample of 5,261 faculty members who replied to questions developed in consultation with an advisory committee of librarians, publishers, and a scholarly society executive.

The study examined topics like the importance of libraries to the respondents’ work and their comfort levels with shifting library collections from print to digital. It also looked at the role of e-books, developments in teaching methods, and the factors that shape research topics and projects.

According to the study, the role of internet search engines in discovery of scholarly resources has continued to increase. The perceived decline in the role of the library catalogue noted in previous cycles of this survey has 'been arrested and even modestly reversed, driven perhaps to some degree by significant strategic shifts in library discovery tools and services,' note the study's authors.

Respondents reported to be generally satisfied with their ability to access scholarly literature, 'not least because freely available materials have come to play a significant role in meeting their needs.'

The survey found that researchers continue to select which journals to publish in based on factors such as topical coverage, readership, and impact factor. They also tend to value existing publisher services, such as peer review, branding, and copy-editing.

When it came to libraries, respondents perceived less value from many functions of the academic library than they did in the last survey. One exception, however, was the gateway function, which experienced a modest resurgence in perceived value in the survey.  The report added that a minority of respondents sees the library as primarily responsible for teaching research skills to undergraduates.