Academics see benefits of online libraries

Increasing numbers of UK academics now utilise university online capabilities

A survey of academics, jointly commissioned by Jisc and RLUK and conducted by research organisation Ithaka S+R, has revealed a substantial increase in the way academics use and value online libraries.

The survey found that 88% of researchers now see their university library’s collections and subscription as a very important source of data and information. Furthermore, 18% use this resource as a starting point in their research – a trend which has seen a 28% increase between 2012 and 2015.

Nearly 7,000 academics responded to the survey, which examines the attitudes of researchers and practitioners working within higher education.  The powerful evidence provided will help universities, policy makers, funders, and librarians to successfully plan for the future. 

Other key findings of the report include:

  • Distribution and Access – Academics are more eager to share their research with academics outside of their discipline, undergraduates and the general public. 46% of researchers see it as important to share their findings with the general public, representing a 48% increase since 2012.
  • Online repositories – Since 2012, there has been a 53% increase in the amount of academics that preserve their research data in an online repository. 43% of researchers also said they prefer to save their materials on platforms made available by their institutions.
  • Open Access – The findings show 46% more academics have received assistance from their university library or elsewhere in making a version of their research outputs freely available online.

Paul Feldman, chief executive of Jisc, commented: “As online capabilities become an essential part of academic practice, these survey findings confirm that research practice is evolving and academics are embracing this change and using research tools differently.

“It’s encouraging to see from the findings that researchers are embracing open access methods such as making versions of their research outputs available online for free, where institutions are giving them the digital support to do so. Jisc is a passionate advocate of open access and we will continue to provide the right guidance, direction and resources academics need to exploit the growth, opportunities and rewards that open access offers. Ultimately, more access to research means that businesses, the public and fellow researchers can reap the economic and social benefits ensuing from research.”