The Morris Library is participating in an academic study of Civil and Environmental Engineering departments that is being conducted by Ithaka S+R, a not-for-profit research and consulting service that provides strategic guidance to help the academic community navigate economic, technological, and demographic change.
Ithaka S+R works with foundations, universities, libraries, publishers, museums, and other organizations to provide research and strategic guidance on our rapidly evolving environment. One of the areas that they specialize in is analysis of the changing research practices of scholars in different disciplines.
This project is part of a larger series of studies from Ithaka S+R on the research support needs of scholars by discipline. Disciplines previously explored include: history, chemistry, and art history. Researchers have different needs and behaviors associated with searching information for their research and this varies by discipline. The concepts of information need and behavior relate to a suite of information-related activities studied within library and information science including: searching for information, needing information, avoiding information and using information. Therefore, it is important that librarians develop deeper knowledge about the subject fields in which their users are involved. This study also adds to the knowledge in library and information studies on user needs and activities by examining the specific needs of Civil and Environmental Engineering scholars, a group that has been previously under-represented in literature.
What the project entails:
Librarians will survey faculty in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering that are currently working on research projects. The survey will consist of one-on-one structured interviews lasting approximately one hour and will be conducted by survey team members from the Morris Library. The interviews will be conducted in the faculty’s primary work space at the University of Delaware. The interviews will be recorded and then transcribed by a professional service and full IRB compliance in terms of privacy and confidentiality will be adhered to at all times.
Once the interview data is gathered, the survey team will write a report on their findings that will be forwarded to Ithaka S+R along with the reports from other participating institutions. Ithaka will then compile a main report based on the findings from all the institutions. The report will provide an in-depth overview and analysis of the research activities in the field as well as ways in which libraries can better support these research efforts. This report will be made available free to anyone who is interested in reading it.
What the study hopes to achieve:
With in-depth qualitative analyses of the research practices of academics in the field of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the goal is to reach a better understanding of the resources and services these faculty members need to be successful in their research. This information will be used to articulate the research activities and needs of Civil and Environmental Engineering scholars including identifying improvements to pre-existing research support services at the University of Delaware and opportunities for developing new research support services for Civil and Environmental Engineering more widely.
There have been many studies on the information needs of students and scholars in various disciplines, however, the specific needs of Civil and Environmental Engineering scholars have yet to be studied in depth. In order to effectively attend to researchers, library spaces and services must be designed in ways that take these researchers’ information needs and behaviors into account.