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Developing a Scholarly Communication Program: Scan Environment

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]

        University of Minnesota scholarly communication environmental scan pt. 1

        University of Minnesota scholarly communication environmental scan pt. 2

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).

            Example: University of California Scholarly Communication Activities and Publications

  •     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?


For more information, go to: Main Page, Establish StructureBuild Knowledge, Go Public, Evaluate Program, Learn More



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