January 27, 2022

Ithaka S+R, RLUK, and JISC Release: “UK Survey of Academics 2012”

The study was released three days ago.


UK Survey of Academics 2012


Ross Housewright
Roger C. Schonfeld
Kate Wulfson

From an RLUK Announcement and Summary:

The survey, funded and guided by Jisc and RLUK and conducted on their behalf by the not-for-profit research organisation Ithaka S+R, received 3,498 responses, (a response rate of 7.9%). The survey covers a range of areas from how academics discover and stay abreast of research, to their teaching of undergraduates. How they choose research topics and publication channels, to their views on learned societies and university libraries, and their collections.

Overarching themes are an increasing reliance on the Internet for their research and publishing activities, and the strong role that openness is playing in their work. Key findings include:

Access limitations– While 86% of respondents report relying on their college or university library collections and subscriptions, 49% indicated that they would often like to use journal articles that are not in those collections. (Figure 19, page 37)

Use of open resources – If researchers can’t find the resources or information they need through their university library, 90% of respondents often or occasionally look online for a freely available version. (Figures 21, page 40.)

The Internet as starting point – 40% of researchers surveyed said that when beginning a project they start by searching the internet for relevant materials, with only 2% visiting the physical library as a first port of call. (Figure 6, page 22.)

Following one’s peers– The findings suggest that the majority of researchers track the work of colleagues and leading researchers as a way of keeping up to date with developments in their field. (Figure 9, page 26.)

Emergence of e-publications– The findings show that e-journals have largely replaced physical usage for research, but that contrasting views exist on replacement of print by e-publications, where print still holds importance within the Humanities and Social Sciences and for in-depth reading in general. (Figure 16, page 34and Figures 10-13, pages 28-31.)

A Bit More From the Executive Summary/Key Findings

Decisive shares of scientist and medical and veterinary respondents are  comfortable with the transition to electronic-only publishing and collecting  for journal current issues, and majorities are comfortable with the deaccessioning of journal backfiles. Six out of 10 respondents overall reports having  used a scholarly monograph in digital form in the past six months, but while  significant shares like e-books for exploratory uses a majority prefers print for  in-depth reading.

Freely available materials are seen to be having a real impact on access. Academic libraries collections are most likely to be seen as an important source  for providing journal articles and books for research and teaching purposes, but following closely in second place are freely available materials online.

When an item is not held in the library collection, the highest share of respondents report that they look for a freely available version online, while the  second highest share gives up, both of which outrank using the library’s interlending or document supply service. Disciplinary groupings differ noticeably in several cases in their access practices. Overall, a third of respondents report  that they can almost always get satisfactory access to needed journal articles not immediately available through their institution.

Overall, about 45% of respondents indicated that they would describe themselves as very dependent on their college or university library for the research they conduct. Almost all respondents rate the library’s role as a purchaser of needed resources as very important, while other roles are less universally indicated as important.

Direct to Full Text (92 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.