Summary report on collections survey (Spring 2016)

Introduction

As described in the Library Collections update in January 2016, there are a number of converging circumstances that required the University of Ottawa Library to plan a second round of cost-cutting for 2016-17: the lack of indexation to protect against inflation; the lack of a strategy to address the major weakness of the Canadian dollar against its US counterpart, and the 2% university-wide budget cuts. It was therefore essential to consult with faculty and graduate students, and ask for input on the resources they are using for teaching and research. To this end, the Library launched a survey comprised of five questions that would inform the decision-making process.  

Methodology

Full-time professors, part-time professors, clinicians, research associates and post-doctorates, as well as graduate students were invited to participate in the survey from March 29th to April 29th, 2016. Two reminders were sent. Four prizes of $50 each were drawn in order to encourage participation of graduate students. Undergraduate students were invited to send comments via our website.

Overall participation was quite high. 3,002 persons responded to at least one question from the total of possible 8,986. Table 1 below illustrate faculty’s response rate. A somewhat lower response rate for the Faculty of Medicine could be attributed to the fact that only 32 out of 711 clinicians participated in the survey. Participants were asked the following questions, from the perspective of learning, teaching and research:

  1. Rate how reliant they are on the different physical and online library resources;
  2. List up to five databases they would rate as essential;
  3. List up to fifteen journals that they would rate as essential;
  4. List up to five ebook collections or platforms they use;
  5. List up to five other resources than the previous ones.

Opportunity for comments was provided after each question and at the end of the survey.

Table 1 – Response rate by faculty

Faculty

Response rate

Arts

42.5%

Education

32.0%

Engineering

29.2%

Health Sciences

36.1%

Law

31.0%

Management

28.0%

Medicine

17.9%

Science

41.2%

Social Sciences

40.4%

Total

33.4%

Table 2 – Response rate by respondent

Respondent

Total

Response rate

Full-time professor

675

49.5%

Part-time professor

209

27.5%

Clinicians

32

4.5%

Post-doctorates

46

19.0%

Master's or graduate diploma student

1,303

32.3%

Ph.D. student

737

39.3%

Total

3,002

33.4%

Key findings - Journals

  • 90% of participants rely to a very high or a high degree on the Library for access to journal articles.
  • Faculty and students are searching databases to find pertinent articles to their topic and they don’t remember specific titles or rely very little on specific titles.
  • There is a widespread desire for access to all journals from a specific publisher or a specific platform, such as ScienceDirect or IEEE, or to all journals in a specific field or related to their current research.
  • Almost 500 participants responded that they need all journals on a specific topic or domain, or all journals by a specific publisher.
  • Interdisciplinary researchers require a variety of journals from each discipline and thus use a high number of journals on a regular basis.

Table 3 – Ten most-frequently mentioned journals

Rank

Journal

Mentions

1

Nature

391

2

Science

262

3

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA

124

4

Cell

106

5

PLoS One

81

6

The New England Journal of Medicine

75

7

Journal of the American Chemical Society

73

8

The Lancet

65

9

The Journal of neuroscience

53

10

JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association

52

Table 4 – Ten most-frequently mentioned journals in French

Rank

Journal

Mentions

1

Sociologie et sociétés

34

2

Meta

33

3

Reflets

29

4

Criminologie

27

5

Déviance et société

25

6

Recherches feministes

25

7

Politique et sociétés

25

8

Francophonies d'Amérique

23

9

Recherches sociographiques

17

10

Revue d'histoire de l'Amérique française

17

Key findings – Databases

  • 72% of participants rely in a very high or a high degree on the Library for access to databases.
  • Respondents noted that databases are important as access to full-text articles
  • Many respondents indicated  that all databases in a specific field or related to their current research are important
  • The limited number of French language databases was noted. (Nb - This is due to state of the scholarly information market where a very limited number of French databases are available.)
  • As the definition of a database is very broad, there were mentions of 66 free Internet resources of which Google (including Google Scholar) was mentioned 106 times.
  • The library discovery layer (Search+) was also mentioned 51 times.

Table 5 – Ten most-frequently mentioned databases

Rank

Database

Mentions

1

PubMed

722

2

JSTOR

495

3

Web of Science

365

4

SCOPUS

364

5

PsycINFO

278

6

ProQuest Databases

277

7

Érudit

227

8

ScienceDirect

219

9

CINAHL

155

10

ERIC

140

NB:  All instances of PubMed/Medline were counted under PubMed.

If a ProQuest database was mentioned by name it wasn’t counted under this rubric.

Table 6 – Five most-frequently mentioned French databases

Rank

Database

Mentions

1

Érudit

227

2

CAIRN

129

3

Persée

34

4

Eureka.cc

30

5

SOQUIJ

16

Conclusion

The major finding of our survey is that faculty and graduate students perceive the library collection as vital for their research, teaching and learning. They expressed their dismay at the fact that collection resources had been cut or would be cut in the immediate future. There is a clear sense that everyone has strong opinions on the library collection, and that these resources have a critical impact on the success of both professors and students.  As stated by one respondent in their comment: “I rely on the library collection 100%, including its interlibrary resources. Cutting budget to the library collection is simply killing research activities in this university. I am struggling to stay on the international level in my research - without proper support from this library, I and other colleagues will not be able to compete at the international circles.”

September 22, 2016

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