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What resources are important to faculty? Initial survey results

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Shelves of books at Chemistry & Chemical Engineering Library

In late December, we surveyed Stanford faculty in the Schools of Humanities & Sciences, Engineering, Education, and Earth Sciences about the “many kinds of resources that might be important to your research”. We are still working on a full analysis of all the data generated by the survey, but wanted to go ahead and start sharing some initial results.

The first set of questions asked faculty “How important are the following types of scholarly materials for your research?”, following by a list of various types of resources. Response choices were: Very Important, Important, Somewhat Important, Not Important. Below are some general results from those questions, broken down by Humanities & Arts faculty, Social Sciences faculty (including Graduate School of Education), and Science & Engineering faculty (including School of Earth Sciences).

  • 90% of faculty say Print Books are Important or Very Important to their research. Faculty in the Humanities and Arts are most enamored of Print Books, with 96% rating them as Important or Very Important. Large majorities of Social Scientists (90%) and Science & Engineering (79%) faculty also rate Print Books as Important or Very Important.
  • E-Books are also Important or Very Important to a majority of faculty in all disciplines: 75% in Humanities & Arts, 65% in Social Sciences, 68% in Science & Engineering. 
  • Nearly all faculty (over 94% across all disciplines) say E-Journals are Important or Very Important; but Print Journals are Important or Very Important primarly to those in Humanities and the Arts (76%). Only 36% of Science and Engineering faculty, and only 28% of Social Sciences faculty rate Print Journals as Important or Very Important.
  • Textual Data are important to many Humanities (44%) and Social Science (38%) faculty, but much less so to Science & Engineering faculty (9%). Maps and Geospatial data are important to 25% of faculty overall, with slightly more interest from Social Scientists than from Humanists or Science & Engineering faculty.
  • For all the other kinds of resources we asked about, the differences between disciplines are large and not particularly surprising. Numeric data is important to more Social Science (62%) and Science & Engineering faculty (55%) than Humanities faculty (19%). Archival materials, non-English language materials, reference works, images, film, video and audio are all important to much larger percentages of Humanists than to Social Scientists and Science & Engineering faculty.
  • Response rates: Our overall response rate was 17%, with Humanities & Arts faculty twice as likely (N=68, 29%) as Social Sciences (N=32, 15%) or Science & Engineering faculty (N=57, 13%) to respond. A total of 157 faculty members took the time to respond, and we are very grateful to them.

We also asked several open-ended questions about how faculty accessed resources and what might improve their access to resources that are important to them. We asked similar questions about a variety of tools (e.g. the library website, SearchWorks, bibliographic management software), and expertise (e.g. subject librarians, data specialists). We will post results from those questions soon, as we continue to work on a full analysis of the data. 

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Chris Bourg
Assistant University Librarian for Public Services
(650) 724-2736