Engaging in an organized environmental scan is a key element of the overall program development process. The scan process allows an opportunity to gather key information on the local environment and build a shared understanding of ongoing activities, past accomplishments, and potential opportunities. By its nature, a scan is outward-focused; it looks at the larger institutional setting, outside of the library.
To get started, establish your goals for the environmental scan. These might include:
- identifying supportive and/or influential individuals (e.g., "faculty champions")
- identifying institutional entities that would be logical allies (e.g., Faculty Library Committee, Office of Research)
- finding out what issues resonate with your campus
- expanding subject librarians' knowledge of the departments they work with
Identify specific factors to investigate, such as
- faculty members serving as journal editors, professional society officers, etc.
- current activity levels for Open Access publishing, support of alternative publishing venues
- participation in an existing institutional repository or interest in establishing one
- previous governance attention to scholarly communication issues, regardless of result (e.g., consideration of resolution supporting OA, endorsement of author's addendum)
- tenure & promotion code terms related to publishing
- relevant institutional policies, such as use of grant funding for author fees
Examples of survey instruments:
ARL/ACRL Institution on Scholarly Communication Opportunity Assessment [PDF]
Establish the procedures you'll follow:
- Determine who will gather the information; will the work be distributed among all subject librarians or centralized, or performed by an outside consultant?
- Establish an appropriate scope for the scan (e.g., limit to information easily gathered from existing sources, or require detail that could only be discovered by interviewing faculty members).
- Choose a data-collection tool (e.g., Zoomerang, SurveyMonkey, wiki).
- Plan the data output format and report-generating mechanism at the time of initial design.
- Draft the scan instrument and test-drive it, paying particular attention to whether responses should be open-ended or controlled-vocabulary.
Harvest the scan results.
- Perform the scan. Collate and analyze the results.
- Report out, both to the library staff and to any appropriate institutional entities (e.g., the Office of Research might want to see the list of faculty editors).
- Use the results to inform program activities; where are the opportunities to expand awareness of the issues and/or encourage behavior change? how can you develop a joint plan of action with the allies identified?