Posts Tagged 'Stanford Faculty Survey 2013'

More faculty survey results, plus the survey instrument


Tools of the Trade, flickr user John of Austin

In our recent Faculty survey we asked what kinds of scholarly materials, what kinds of experts, and what kinds of tools were important to faculty in doing their research.

In terms of tools; “search tools, databases, and websites” are important (rated Important or Very Important) to over 90% of all faculty — which is not particularly surprising.

The next most important kind of tool were “bibliographic management tools” — which are important to 71% of Science & Engineering faculty, 52% of Social Science faculty, and 47% of Humanities and arts faculty. “Specialized or customizable software” is important to 62% of Social Science faculty and 50% of Science & Engineering faculty — but only to 25% of Humanities and Arts faculty. Specialized computing infrastructure is important to 46% of Science & Engineering folks, but only 30% of Social Scientists and only 15% of Humanists.

So, to summarize, books (print and electronic) and e-journals are important to everyone, experts with scholarly & technical chops are really important to humanists, data and methods experts are important to social scientists, and specialized tools and infrastructure are important to science & engineering folks. Stay tuned for additional multivariate analyses, and analysis of the 147 pages (w00t!) of qualitative data.

In the interest of sharing and transparency, I am also making a short version of our survey instrument available here (PDF), under a CC-BY license. If any of you decide to use any of the same questions, please let me know — it might be very informative to pool data and see what kinds of differences we might find across institutions — after all, I’m on record as claiming that libraries aren’t all the same, and that big research libraries are different from other academic libraries. It would be fun to test those hypotheses with comparable data from other institutions.

What kinds of experts are important to Faculty?

In an earlier post about our recent survey of Stanford faculty, I wrote about the kinds of scholarly materials faculty rated as Important or Very Important to their research. In the same survey, we asked faculty “How important is support from the following kinds of experts for your research?”; followed by a list of 5 different kinds of experts. In general, it is the Humanists and the Social Scientists who are most likely to say support from various kinds of experts is important to their research. The Humanists are most likely to say “Staff with both technical and scholarly expertise” and “Reference or Research Librarians” are important; while Social Scientists are most interested in support from experts in emerging areas of library services–such as programming, GIS and statistical analysis, and metadata support. Specific results summarized below:

  • Overall, 64% of faculty rated “Staff with both technical and scholarly expertise” as Important or Very Important. There were big disciplinary differences, however, with 81% of Humanities & Arts faculty rating the combination of scholarly and technical expertise as Important or Very Important, compared to only 58% of Social Science faculty and 46% of Science & Engineering faculty.
  • “Reference or Research Librarians” are likewise Important or Very Important to a much higher percentage (81%) of Humanities & Arts faculty than to Social Science (56%) or Science & Engineering (35%) faculty.
  • Social Scientists are slightly more likely to say that “Programmers, Database Administrators, or Web Developers” are important to their research, with 55% of Social Science faculty rating such experts as Important or Very Important, compared to 45% of Humanities & Arts faculty and 41% of Science & Engineering faculty.
  • Social Scientists are also more likely, by a rather large margin, to say that “Statistical, GIS, or other kinds of methodology or software specialists” are Important or Very Important. Over half of the Social Science faculty (52%, to be exact) said such experts are important, while only 14% of Humanists and 27% of Science & Engineering faculty said so.
  • “Data managers, archivists, or metadata specialists” are also important to a higher percentage of Social Science faculty (46%), than Humanists (27%) or Science & Engineering faculty (21%).

My big take-aways are that we ought to be hiring or developing humanities and social science librarians with strong scholarly and technical expertise; which for the social scientists ought to include strong statistical and methodological training. Hmm … seems I may have said that before.

Statistical software consulting in Green Library at Stanford.

Statistical software consulting in Green Library at Stanford. Photo by Chris Bourg

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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