Gauging the Need for Scholarly Communications Library Support at a Research University
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Due to increasing interest in Open Access (OA) on the University of Houston (UH) campus, librarians at UH collaborated with members of the Faculty Senate OA subcommittee to develop a survey to determine the extent of knowledge about and interest in scholarly communications on campus, and to assess the need for a university-wide OA policy and/or scholarly communications-related library support. The 2015 UH Libraries Scholarly Communications Survey included 25 questions that gathered basic demographic information (12%) and covered the topics of scholarly communications (8%), open access (44%), author rights (12%), data management (12%), and repositories (12%). Every college was surveyed with the sample size for each being calculated using a 5% margin of error and a 95% confidence level, for a total sample size of 810 faculty across thirteen colleges. The survey remained open for two weeks, with a reminder being sent at the beginning of the second week. The target response rate for both the overall survey and each individual college was 10%. While low, this is the standard in the library community due to consistently low faculty response rates. We obtained 88 valid responses to our survey, yielding an overall response rate of 11%. SPSS was used for data analysis, which included standard descriptive statistics and relevant cross-tabulations. Cross-tabulations of questions with individual colleges were only run for the seven of thirteen colleges that yielded a response rate over 10%. Preliminary results indicate that less than 50% of respondents are knowledgeable about open access forms of scholarly dissemination, while 62% indicate that they either do not have the knowledge to negotiate author rights or they simply have not thought about the issue. In terms of data management, while 53% of respondents are confident about describing their data in grant proposals, they are less confident about provisions for data backup (48%), preservation and archiving (43%), and data sharing (39%), all of which are necessary components of a grant proposal’s data management plan (DMP). As methods of scholarly communication evolve, it is critical that researchers be knowledgeable about the expectations of funding agencies, their rights as authors, and their options for disseminating scholarly content. The University of Houston Libraries will use the results of this survey to develop point-of-need services to address these issues on campus, and the results of the survey will be used to inform recommendations about a campus-wide open access policy to the UH faculty senate.