Faculty Still Rely on Library Resources and Services for their Research
AbstractA Review of:
Borrego, Á., & Anglada, L. (2016). Faculty information behaviour in the electronic environment: Attitudes towards searching, publishing and libraries. New Library World, 117(3/4): 173-185. doi:10.1108/NLW-11-2015-0089
Objective – To determine faculty’s information behaviour and their perception of academic libraries in the current transition between print and electronic scholarly communication.
Design – Online survey.
Setting – A consortium of 12 large universities in Spain.
Subjects – More than 17,380 faculty members.
Methods – The researchers used a questionnaire based on a subset of the questionnaire used for the Ithaka S+R Faculty Survey, with 20 closed and 2 open-ended questions. The survey was implemented via Google Forms and sent through mailing lists. The number of recipients was not known, but university statistics for 11 of the 12 universities list 17,380 faculty (statistics were not available for one university, located in a different administrative area). The questions aimed to identify the types of documents used by scholars for teaching and research, the search tools used, the strategies used to keep up-to-date in their disciplines, preferences for print or electronic books, the sources used to access documents, their preferred channels to disseminate their own research, and their views regarding library services.
Main Results – The response rate was 12.7%. Based on the results, scholarly journals were the most used information resource for research across all academic disciplines, with 94% of respondents rating them as important. For teaching, faculty preferred to use textbooks for undergraduates, and journal articles for Master’s students. To search the literature, faculty chose bibliographic databases and Internet search engines over the library catalog and physical collections, although the catalog was the first choice for known-item searches. Respondents favored print to read entire books or chapters but preferred the electronic format for skimming. Of the respondents, 78% rated the library as an important channel to access resources, while 61% also considered free online materials important. If the material was not available at their library, 71% frequently chose to search for a free online version and 42% used the inter-library loan service. For their own research, faculty have published in scholarly journals more often than other channels and have selected the journal based on its impact factor (77.5% ranked it as important) and on its area of coverage (73.4%). When asked to rank library services, faculty placed paying for resources highest, with 86.2% identifying it as important. Next were facilitating teaching and helping students develop information literacy skills. Finally, a majority of faculty considered themselves highly dependent on the library.
Conclusion – Journal articles are the most widely used information resource for research and teaching purposes, regardless of discipline. This includes arts and humanities, which are known for heavy monograph usage. Articles are also scholars’ preferred channel for publishing. With regards to books, faculty have mixed feelings about print and electronic formats. Spanish faculty display information behaviours similar to their British and American counterparts, as documented in the Ithaka S+R 2012 surveys. Blogs and social networks are not widely used in spite of growing attention to such channels for research output and altmetrics. Open access is also relatively unimportant for faculty when they choose where to publish. A majority of respondents still consider library services as important, for collections as well as teaching and learning support, which may present opportunities for librarians.
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