The aim of the Ithaka S+R Local Faculty Survey is to study the impact of digital technology on research, teaching and publishing. The findings will help our institution to ensure the right directional choices and investments for the greatest impact. More than 50 higher education institutions in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have already conducted this survey. In 2015, the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Lingnan University conducted the Ithaka Survey altogether.
The survey was made available to 195 faculty members of Lingnan University in the period of 11 March to 10 April 2015. 117 faculty members started the survey with 71 completed. Close to half of the respondents were from the arts and humanities (49.30%), followed by the social sciences (28.17%), then business (22.54%). 60.29% had been with Lingnan for 10 years or less. 51.47% thought themselves equally as a researcher and a teacher. 10 written comments were obtained as well.
Lingnan University Library
Other than the demographical data, the survey questions were organized into 5 parts.* It should take about 10-15 minutes to complete.* The other 3 UGC institutions also conducted surveys in the categories of Data Preservation and Management, Scholarly Communication, Role of the Library. It should be noted that the percentages of Lingnan University were close to the average percentages of the 4 institutions.
47.14% of our respondents would choose a general purpose search engine as their starting point for research. For wanted scholarly literature which they did not own a copy, 43.66% would visit the library website or online catalogue. For exploring new journal articles and monographs relevant to research interest, 46.48% would choose the beginning point at specific scholarly databases. Following the work of key scholars (54.93%) and skimming new issues of key journals (54.93%) were the most used channels to keep up with current scholarship.
84.29% regarded the library collections and subscriptions were extremely important and they would use routinely for research and teaching. For those monographs and articles that they did not have immediate access, 66.67% used interlibrary loans or document delivery services provided by the library to obtain copies. It was noteworthy that 50.72% of the respondents occasionally read the pre-print (or those non-final versions) of scholarly work. But just 34.78% would cite such versions occasionally and the same percentage replied that they had never cited them before. The following statement was the most chosen one: “when I am looking for journal articles and monographs in the course of my research, I often use a variety of different sources, including the library scholarly databases and mainstream search engines.” Altogether 81.43% of the respondents picked it.
3. Data Preservation and Management
74.65% responded that they had built up collections of scientific, qualitative, quantitative, or primary research data in the course of their research. And 60.56% collected image or media data as well. For the data, media and images, 78.18% indicated that it was extremely important for them to collect materials by themselves while 72.73% said that these pieces of data were freely available online. The 2 most important functions of managing and preserving research data as regarded by faculty members would be the ability to store multiple versions of data (70.37%) and the ability to track those research citing their own data (66.67%). A great majority (88.89%) organized or managed data on their own computers often and 53.70% said they would work on non-networked device. 64.15% said that they would rely on the freely available software for supporting the management or preservation of data. Upon the conclusion of projects, 79.53% would preserve these materials themselves. For UGC institutions as a whole, an average 57.8% considered that their university library was very valuable as a source of support for managing and preserving research data. In contrast only 46.3% at Lingnan opined in the same way.
4. Scholarly Communication
62.32% replied that their scholarly research in terms of journal articles or conference proceedings were available online for free via personal webpages or open access repository. 46.15% indicated that their peer-reviewed journal articles or conference proceedings were on the institutional repository. This figure was at par with the other UGC institutions (49.7%). However, the percentage of these materials on an open access disciplinary repository (35.9%) was relatively lower than the other institutions (46.06%). 37.14% regarded that it would be very useful if assistance could be provided with depositing scholarly research in the Digital Commons. However, close to 90% (89.86%) faculty members had not negotiated with publishers to modify the copyright terms before. The major reasons were not having sufficient knowledge (24.59%), not aware of such an option existed (22.95%) and in the belief that they must agree to those terms set up by publishers (22.95%). 44.12% said that they did not understand the university’s policy or stance on publishing journals articles via a freely available repository. 64.71% would support if the institution was requiring peer-reviewed journal articles or conference proceedings be made freely available online, say via an open access repository. 53.62% would also support government policies mandating publicly funded research and data be made freely available online.
5. Role of the Library
Almost half (48.57%) of the respondents indicated a relatively high level of dependency on the library for research. Same as other UGC libraries, the most important function provided by our library was that it paid for resources, e.g. academic journals, books and electronic databases that needed (76.81%). 44.12% considered that the range of digital services as provided by the library was very important. 76.47% considered that the statement “the primary responsibility of my university library should be facilitating my access to any scholarly materials in print or digital form that I may need for my research and teaching” well described the role of library. In contrast, only 47.06% considered the primary responsibility of library should be supporting undergraduate student learning.
Faculty’s Overall Expectation
In 2011, the Lingnan Library conducted the LibQual+ Library Survey. It measured the desire and perceived levels on the library services in terms of service affection, information control and library as a place. It showed that academic staff had the highest desire for journal access. The current findings of the Ithaka Survey confirmed the same high expectation by faculty members on the conventional roles of the library. From the faculty members’ point of view, functions of the Lingnan Library are well recognized for paying for the research resources and helping them to obtain materials that are not in hand. The possible library roles in the aspects of assisting faculty members in the management and preservation of research data, providing them with advice and support for scholarly communication, etc., are relatively less solicited as found in this survey.
We must express our heartfelt gratitude to all faculty members who spent the time to complete the survey. Key findings in the discovery and access sections will be useful for the coming implementation of the new integrated library system. Before we move to a more powerful library system, the 1-Search on the Library Website will be upgraded to the 2.0 version in summer 2015. The new version will provide a more efficient and comprehensive searching of the entire library collection.
Furthermore, the circulation team will be more proactive in facilitating faculty members to get hold of research materials not available from the Lingnan Library and the Lingnan library website. For example, we are in the process to introduce the request for book chapters using the same RAPID platform in the Academic Year 2015/16. In other words, chapters of those books not held by the Library will be efficiently delivered to email accounts within 24 hours in most cases.
The subject liaison librarians are ready to discuss with their respective departments on how to enable a more relevant role of the library in serving the faculty members’ research, publication and data management needs. If you have any idea, comment and suggestion, please do not hesitate to contact us.