Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Ithaka Faculty Survey 2009: can a mail-based survey capture faculty leadership in adopting new models of scholarly communication?

Ithaka has just released their Faculty Survey 2009. In brief, results suggest that faculty are ready for the shift from print to electronic for journals for new issues, but are concerned about preservation. Results also indicate a growing appreciation for the library's role as buyer and archiving, with a decreasing appreciation of the library's role as gatekeeper. Teaching and research support are valued, particularly for faculty who are "more of a teacher".

Following is a brief methodological critique. In summary, a mail-based survey like this likely understates faculty comfort with, and interest in, new online communication channels; usage of repositories is likely under-reported, based on answers to another question from this survey; and the 2006 survey data, which might yield the answer to the problem with the repositories question, is unfortunately locked up. Hopefully, the 2009 dataset will be released as open data.


This is a mail-based survey, with a response rate of 8.6%. There are several indications of low findings on areas relating to new technologies, most significantly including limited use of new online communication channels, and a conclusion that faculty are not likely to lead in transformation of scholarly communication. It would be interesting to see whether the same results would have been found with a web-based survey. That is to say, faculty whose primary means of communication is new online channels might be less likely to return a mail-based survey.

Some of the findings with respect to usage of open access archives (which the report refers to as institutional and disciplinary repositories) are inconsistent. For example, only about 10% of faculty in any discipline report making use of such repositories. However, over 30% of faculty in physics, math, and economics, report that they continue to use preprints and working papers, even after the published version is available. Since these preprints and working papers are in the repositories, it is clear that usage of repositories is underreported.

It would be very helpful to be able to view the actual question. However, while Ithaka has deposited the data from the 2006 survey, it is not freely accessible. Perhaps the 2009 data will be made openly accessible?

Ithaka study citation: Schonfeld, R. C., & Housewright, R. (2010). Faculty survey 2009: Key strategic insights for libraries, publishers, and societiesIthaka. Retrieved April 7, 2010, from