Highlights of Ithaka US Faculty Survey 2021

Melissa Blankstein, Senior Analyst, Ithaka S+R, provided a brief overview of the results from this most recent iteration of their Faculty Survey. In a July 14, 2022 blog entry, she noted some of the highlights from that survey of 7,500 faculty members. Respondents to the survey were from a variety of institutional types, disciplines, titles and ages: 

  • Faculty are according less importance to a journal’s impact factor when deciding where to publish their scholarly research.
  • While faculty members continue to view the library’s most important function to be that of buyer of scholarly resources, they consider the library’s role in providing direct support to students as essential.
  • Faculty members continue to be interested in an open access publication model and see their library as key in financially supporting open access infrastructure.
  • Very few faculty members believe there are adequate processes in place to protect against research fraud, and there is widespread support for additional efforts to ensure research integrity.
  • The disruptions of recent years have yielded a substantial increase in the use and creation of open educational resources (OER), textbooks, course modules, and video lectures.
  • In the aggregate, the importance of the monograph has declined.
  • Notwithstanding the disruptions of recent years, faculty members report that attending conferences and workshops remains the most important way they keep up to date with their current field.

As an overview of faculty workload, 98%of these faculty members are teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, while slightly smaller percentages are engaged in service activities to their institution or profession while continuing to advise or mentor students outside of the classroom.

About eight in ten faculty members are currently conducting academic research, half are involved in fundraising and/or submitting grant proposals, and about 30 percent are conducting post-award grant or sponsorship administrative and compliance activities.

With regard to discovery, the report includes this quote:

Over time, we have seen a general decrease in the percentage of faculty using specific scholarly databases, and an increase in using Google Scholar. However, since 2018, we see similar shares of faculty indicate they use these sources to discover their research materials (see Figure 5). There are some differences based on discipline: 39 percent of humanists are searching on a specific scholarly database compared to around 30 percent of their social scientist and scientist colleagues (see Figure 6).

Larger shares of social scientists are using Google Scholar compared to their colleagues in other disciplines: 36 percent of social sciences faculty are starting their search here, compared to 30 percent of scientists and 12 percent of humanists. Humanists are using specific scholarly databases to start their search of scholarly materials at a similar level as in 2018. Medical faculty, however, have increased their usage of specific databases since 2018. This increase could be due to the inclusion of PubMed as an example in this survey cycle. Lastly, the share of scientists who indicated that they use a general purpose search engine has been increasing over time, whereas the share of faculty who use their college or university’s website or catalog has decreased across each discipline.

 The full text of the report is accessible here. The interesting details make reading the full report a good use of time.

Financial support for the survey was provided by Taylor & Francis, ProQuest, Karger Publishers, and Brill.