- Faculty members see the role of libraries becoming more diverse, voiced interest in open-access publication models and are concerned about research fraud protections, according to the results from a recent survey from Ithaka S+R, a research nonprofit.
- Among faculty, 84% said it was highly important for a college to buy scholarly research resources, largely consistent with responses since 2003. Just under 80% of respondents said it is important for the library to provide a physical space or access to tech resources for student learning.
- Only about one in five faculty members are confident enough protections exist in academic publishing to prevent research fraud. While the majority of respondents said they do not believe academic fraud is on the rise, they indicated strong support for mandated disclosure of funding sources and registering research questions prior to analysis.
Ithaka S+R's US Faculty Survey, issued every three years, tracks research and publishing practices in higher education. In 2021, researchers collected responses from 7,615 faculty members from colleges with varying missions and research levels.
Faculty have prized libraries' ability to buy academic resources consistently since 2003, according to a report on the findings. They support open access models and see their libraries as key in financially supporting the systems necessary to maintain open access publishing.
Among those surveyed, 63% are interested in seeing open access publications replace the traditional subscription-based model. They also see their college library as an important source of financial support for open access infrastructure, with half indicating that they would be open to their libraries investing in open journal platforms.
"This report can help library directors determine next steps in their own strategies and their budgets going forward," said Melissa Blankstein, senior analyst at Ithaka S+R and the report’s author. "It's one data point that they can use when advocating and making decisions at their institutions."
Respondents also said that libraries contribute to undergraduate student success and teach vital skills. Two-thirds of faculty members said the college courses they teach aim to improve their undergraduate students’ ability to find and evaluate scholarly information. But 55% said their students' skills in this area are still poor.
Almost four in five faculty said their libraries help undergraduates develop research, critical analysis and information literacy skills. That’s up from less than three in five when the question was first asked in 2012.
The change correlates with libraries taking more of a lead in technology provision and access, Blankstein said.
"Faculty see the library providing technology students need to attend classes and do their schoolwork," she said. "It's like an informal gathering space to study, work and learn."