In this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Jennifer Howard reports on the 2012 Ithaka survey of faculty attitudes, which went public yesterday. In spite of all the buzz about open access, the article has some positive news for publishers but unfortunately, not so much for libraries.
According to Ms. Howard’s analysis, traditional academic publishers can take heart from current faculty attitudes. “Even though scholars have more alternatives for sharing and circulating their work than they used to, respondents said they still think traditional publishers offer valuable services. Managing peer review and making research more visible are among the services the faculty members most appreciate.”
While despair is not warranted, libraries need to take changing faculty attitudes seriously. Although there was a slight jump the number of faculty who perceive the library as a gateway to information over the 2009 survey, it is still only around 20%, which is a drop from the 30% recorded in 2003. Ms. Howard goes on to report that “with a couple of significant exceptions, researchers continue to see less value coming out of the academic library than they used to. The campus library remains “a central element” in how scholars approach their research and teaching, the report says, “but it is only one part of a complex environment for accessing needed scholarly resources.”
Fortunately the survey also points to an opportunity for both publishers and libraries. While faculty continue to produce significant research data the vast majority are storing it themselves. Only 20% take advantage of institutional repositories. Someone needs to ensure that this data is stored responsibly and made accessible. Both libraries and publishers could consider expanding data storage and access services to meet this need. Libraries in particular might increase faculty perceptions of “added value” by offering such services.
Obviously, there is a lot to digest in this Ithaka survey and this article offers an insightful overview. Another helpful perspective can be found in Carl Straumsheim‘s article Digital Research, Not Teaching that was posted on the Inside Higher ED website.
Anyone interested in faculty research attitudes will want to spend some time with these articles. They will only whet your appetite to tackle the full report.