January 16, 2022

New Report From Ithaka S+R and 18 Library Partners Looks at Research Practices in Religious Studies Scholars

From a Post by Danielle Cooper, Ithaka S+R:

For Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Religious Studies Scholars, sponsored by the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) with additional support from the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), we partnered with 18 academic libraries to explore research practices in religious studies. Following a two-day training session led by Ithaka S+R, teams from these libraries used qualitative research methods to interview religious studies faculty at their home institutions. To diversify the types of scholars included in the study, ATLA conducted additional interviews of Islamic studies faculty and faculty from historically black colleges and universities.


Our high-level findings focus on three areas:

  • Discovering and accessing information. When available, digital discovery and access have greatly improved these scholars’ research experiences with relatively few challenges. Scholars located in some seminaries and those conducting research on religions and religious cultures beyond the West experience greater challenges when conducting primary and secondary source research.
  • Information management. Scholars contend with the challenge of managing vast arrays of information that they produce and collect in the process of conducting their research and engage in idiosyncratic practices for organizing and storing their information. They struggle with digital approaches to citation management and information storage and experience uncertainty around destroying and preserving information following their personal use
  • Audience, output and credit. Scholars’ primary focus remains on traditional scholarly outputs due to the expectations associated with tenure and promotion. Overall awareness and engagement with open access is low but the perceived importance of more freely sharing work as enabled by social media platforms is high.

Read the Complete Introductory Post by Danielle Cooper
Note: Reports from each of the 18 academic libraries are also available and can be accessed at the bottom of this page.

Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Religious Studies Scholar
Danielle Cooper, Roger C. Schonfeld, et al.
Ithaka S+R
February 8, 2017

Direct to Full Text Report ||| Direct to PDF Version (65 pages)


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.