A major survey of UK Academics explores the evolving attitudes and behaviours of researchers and practitioners working across the higher education sector. It builds on the rich picture of researcher requirements that Jisc is developing through its Researchers of Tomorrow study and RLUK through its Redefining the Research Library Model strategic strand.

The survey was conducted by Jisc and RLUK, in partnership with the not-for-profit research organisation Ithaka S+R. It received 3,498 responses, (a response rate of 7.9%), and largely focuses on the impact of new technologies on UK researchers. This ranges from how academics discover and stay abreast of research, to their teaching of undergraduates, and from how they choose research topics and publication channels, to their views on learned societies and university libraries and their collections.

Key findings include:

  • Openly available resources
    If researchers can’t find the resources or information they need through their university library the next step for around 90% of respondents is to look online for freely available resources on the topic area. This flags the importance of material being available in an open format and the benefits to researchers themselves of making their work openly available.
  • Starting point
    40% of researchers surveyed said that when beginning a project they start by searching the web for relevant materials, with only 2% visiting the physical library as a first port of call. (figure 6, page 22)
  • Peer to peer
    The findings suggest that a majority of researchers track the work of colleagues and leading researchers as ways to keep up to date with developments in their field. This is nothing new, but does it suggest a pattern for the future? With areas such as social media activity on an upward curve this may become a larger source of information. (figure 9, page 26)
  • Print vs e-publications
    The findings show contrasting views on the replacement of print by e-publications. Print still holds importance within the Humanities and Social Sciences, and for in-depth reading researchers tend to prefer print but there was also evidence  to show that e-journals have largely supplanted physical usage for research. (figures 10-13, pages 28-31 and figure 16, page 34)

It is hoped that these findings will provide the entire sector, including universities, learned societies, scholarly publishers and especially academic libraries, with timely findings and analysis to help them identify and plan for the emerging strategic opportunities and challenges ahead.

Find out more at https://sr.ithaka.org/publications/uk-survey-of-academics-2015/