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Research Library Impact Framework Initiative and Pilots: Research Productivity and Impact

Research question: (How) does the library help to increase research productivity and impact?

Project Teams

Project Descriptions

Pilot Project: UC Berkeley

There has never been a doubt about the library’s overall positive impact on research productivity, but there is a lack of strong evidence to help identify specific areas of impact, particularly around open access issues. The UC Berkeley Library has strongly advocated for open access publishing, in order to promote a publishing ecosystem where the impact of research can be maximized by removing readership barriers. Actions taken by the Library range from signing the OA2020 Expression of Interest, to not renewing our Elsevier journal subscriptions, to negotiating transformative agreements with publishers. But what are our faculty’s opinions on open access issues? What is their actual publication output in open access? What is the impact of open access publications compared to the ones behind the paywall? What are the possible barriers for faculty to publish in open access? More importantly, how should the Library help?

In order to have a better understanding of faculty’s perceptions and behaviors around open access publishing, our research aims to look into possible areas of correlation between faculty’s opinions of open access and their open access research output. We also plan to investigate demographic differences, including faculty’s discipline, years of experience, job title, and funding support availability.

This research will help us and the broader ARL community to obtain a better understanding of faculty’s perception and behavior around open access publishing. It will provide insight into ways the library can support open access publishing and maximize our impact in these areas. Also, this research might suggest the need for, and value of, capturing publication output, particularly open access output, in the ARL Annual Statistics collection.

Pilot Project: University of Illinois at Chicago

The University of Illinois at Chicago University Library has strived to maintain collections to ensure faculty success. We periodically surveyed our faculty assessing their changing and evolving use of the library and technology, to best meet their needs for ensuring their success. We also examined their use of our collections in their publications exploring how online information impacted the research they cited. We have explored how academic library collections size and use impact faculty research performance. By examining ARL and other statistics, we found a correlation between the number of full-text article requests and the number of articles published at an institution. What is unique about this is that new data points (full-text article requests) can be used to demonstrate a relationship with faculty research success. Our examination also found a positive correlation between the number of references included in published articles and material expenditures, suggesting that the more materials available to researchers, the more they will reference it. Given our ongoing efforts to assess the impact of library collections on faculty success, we would like to use our findings as a basis to explore the data at a more granular, disciplinary level. Using databases such as Scopus, we will examine both the references included in faculty publications at institutions and how those publications are being cited to explore the data in-depth for relationships and impact. We will also explore this data over time, in relation to changes in the online journal collection size, to better illustrate impact. Additional statistics related to budgets and use statistics will be collected and incorporated.

Pilot Project: University of Pittsburgh and University of Washington

The University of Pittsburgh and University of Washington teams explored the role of a library in supporting research productivity at their respective institutions. The University of Pittsburgh team focused on the discovery stage of the research process, with a specific focus on early-career researchers in the hard sciences. The University of Washington team focused on faculty and postdoctoral researchers in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and health sciences fields and their need for understanding and communicating the impact of their work. While focusing on their individual projects, the two teams agreed to work together to test one of the goals of the IMLS grant: building collaborative library research partnerships. The teams agreed to focus on similar user groups and adopt the same methods for data collection. As a result of the collaboration, each of their reports include the guides for semi-structured interviews and other resources.

Pilot Project: University of Manitoba

The University of Manitoba Libraries (UML) are undergoing significant changes in how it provides support to University researchers across 15 Faculties (84+ departments). Part of this change involved the creation of the Research Services and Digital Strategies (RSDS) unit to prioritize and coordinate support and services in 11 key areas. The Libraries are also engaged in four internal-evaluative processes including; the development of key performance indicators (KPIs) and balanced scorecards, drafting a Strategic Framework document for the RSDS unit, an institutional reorganization within our Academic Engagement units, as well as contributing to the development of a University-wide research data management strategy. This practice brief will provide the output of these four evaluative processes as they relate to library-delivered research support. This brief will also provide a lesson-learned section to highlight the pros and cons of engaging in four rigorous evaluative initiatives within a one year period.

The importance of the Libraries’ work in these four initiatives is three-fold. Firstly, the University of Manitoba Libraries, much like many other university libraries, are now more than ever charged with demonstrating its value in the face of potential (and more likely inevitable) cuts to its overall budget. Our Strategic Framework initiative seeks to define and better articulate how the Libraries’ research support demonstrably contributes to the research goals of our respective faculties and our parent institution overall. Likewise, the Libraries’ Key Performance Indicators (KPI) work seeks to more closely align our research support offerings while at the same time targeting those support areas where we need to collect meaningful and actionable data. Secondly, the reorganization of the Libraries’ Academic Engagement units is an effort to better allocate both human and financial resources to strategic areas that best support the strategic goals and priorities discovered in our Strategic Framework and KPI projects. Any reorganization of staff members and the accompanying redeployment of staff skill-sets to different and new areas, can have both positive and negative impact on research libraries. We anticipate that other ARL institutions may benefit from the insights gained during our Academic Engagement reorganization. Finally, having been asked to lead our parent institution’s working group on its university-wide research data management strategy, the Libraries are seeking to capitalize on this collaboration to first and foremost, demonstrate the Libraries’ value to our stakeholders, while at the same time highlighting the expertise of Librarians within the realm of research support.

Practice Brief: Vanderbilt University

Demonstrating the value of a biomedical library can be a daunting and somewhat ineffective task. The current literature base contains many articles attempting to achieve this goal by analyzing the collections through usage, citation analysis, and the return on investment. However, with competing budgets across university campuses, it has become essential to investigate and develop methods in which libraries can correlate collections and services as it relates to their role in the institution’s scholarly activity or output.

Vanderbilt’s practice brief is based on a pilot survey conducted in the Spring of 2018. The results of the pilot survey were presented at a regional medical library association meeting in October of 2018. The primary goal of the instrument is to document the various projects our stakeholders are involved in as well as the library’s role in those projects. The ARL practice brief will further explore and evaluate the survey instrument’s criteria in its current context and its potential utility in other research libraries. Upon completion of the project, the survey’s content and purpose will enable any library to document and disseminate their value (or impact) to its users, library administration, and university administration. It should also strengthen the library’s perception as a partner in their respective academic, research, and clinical enterprises.

Practice Brief: University of Waterloo

As academic institutions increasingly ask questions about research impact, libraries have the potential to be a valued and knowledgeable partner. The University of Waterloo provides a possible method for how other research libraries can support the growing area of bibliometrics. This practice brief explores: service background, partners, service providers and users, how bibliometric data are used, data sources, key lessons learned (including gaps), and recommended resources.