Books (all kinds) and ejournals are important to Faculty: Stanford survey results


mmmm … books!
Faculty office, photo by Chris Bourg

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 still have loads of work to do on analyzing the data, but I wanted to go ahead and start sharing some results. The first set of questions asked faculty “How important are the following types of scholarly materials for your research?”, followed by a list of the usual suspects in terms of types of resources. Response choices were: Very Important, Important, Somewhat Important, Not Important.

For me, the big take-away from the details below is that large majorities of faculty across all disciplines rate Print Books, Electronic Books, and Ejournals as Important or Very Important. The fact that both print and electronic books are important to all faculty is more evidence to me that the easy stereotypes that scientists don’t need print and humanists resist digital are just wrong.

  • 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. Note that Humanities and Arts faculty are the most likely to embrace E-books (so much for the stereotype of the luddite humanists). Note also that most faculty rate both print and E-books as Important or Very Important — we are clearly still in a hybrid world with respect to scholarly books.
  • Journals are another story. Everyone (over 94% across all disciplines) says 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 a good chunk of Humanities (44%) and Social Science (38%) faculty, but much less so to Science & Engineering folks (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 folks.
  • For all the other kinds of resources we asked about, the differences between disciplines are big and just what you would expect. 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 a rather poor 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.

We also asked some great open-ended questions about how faculty accessed resources and what would improve that access. We asked similar questions about a bunch of tools (e.g. the library website, SearchWorks, bibliographic management software), and expertise (e.g. subject librarians, data specialists). I’ll blog about some of the findings from these other questions later, so stay tuned.

(A less editorial version of this appears on our Stanford Libraries Blog, which we will use to officially communicate results to the Stanford community.)

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