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Academic survey 2014 results


We thank all 815 academics and researchers who responded to the survey. The survey ran from Monday 3 February to Friday 21 February 2014, and covered four main topics:

  • the ways that scholars discover and access needed scholarly materials in their teaching and research
  • the evolving role of the library and of library collections
  • research and teaching practices, with a particular emphasis on how these are changing in light of opportunities created by new technology
  • the ways in which scholars communicate the findings of their research through a variety of media

The survey is part of a collaborative effort among the Go8 university libraries, and the results will allow for benchmarking between the participating institutions. The key messages from the survey feedback are given below.

Use of the Library

The majority of academics and researchers provided the following responses about the Library:

  • The primary responsibility of the Library should be facilitating researcher access to scholarly materials needed for research and teaching
  • The three most important Library roles identified are:
    • a purchaser of information resources
    • a starting point for locating information for research
    • supporting higher degree students develop research, critical analysis and information literacy skills
  • University of Sydney academics rated the role of the Library more highly than academics at the other participating institutions, particularly in regard to its activities in supporting teaching
  • Academics consider it principally their responsibility to develop the research, critical analysis, and information literacy skills of their undergraduates. However they consider it important that the Library contributes significantly in this process

Research practice

The majority of academics and researchers provided the following responses about their research practice:

  • Almost half of the survey respondents are very interested in integrating digital research activities and methodologies more deeply into their work
  • When academics try to locate a specific piece of secondary academic literature, the majority visit the Library’s website or online catalogue
  • They reported building up and analysing collections of scientific, qualitative, quantitative or primary source research data. This data is often organised or managed on the academic’s own computer, and preserved using commercially or freely available software or services
  • Some respondents stated that they want to preserve these materials themselves, but don’t have the financial support or technical skills

The following abilities were rated as important by respondents when managing or preserving their research data:

  • Store multiple versions of data in the same place
  • Update existing datasets with new data
  • Track academic research citing data or datasets

Next steps

This study will offer important guidance for the University of Sydney and the Library in developing strategies to support your research and teaching in an environment increasingly shaped by digital technologies.

If you have any queries about the survey or results please contact:
Michael Arndell Associate Director, Academic Services.

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