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Thursday, November 7 • 2:30pm - 3:10pm
Lessons from ITHAKA S+R on Research Practices in the Disciplines: What Have We Learned? What Should We Do?

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ITHAKA S+R, the influential organization studying scholarly communications, launched a series of reports in 2012 reflecting a scholar-centered approach to understanding “changing research practices.” By now, in collaboration with university libraries, ITHAKA S+R has studied researchers in nine fields, including history, chemistry, Asian Studies, civil and environmental engineering, and more are planned. The project’s goal is to guide libraries toward strengthening support for scholars in the evolving digital research environment. This presentation shows how viewed together the reports represent a unique collective portrait of scholars and scientists at work, loyal to conventions but encountering new tools, often requiring assistance in using them. The ITHAKA S+R studies help us understand how disciplinary habits shape professional expectations and research practices, and what might be done to serve scholars taking different positions about technological innovation, from indifference to enthusiasm. Plainly, there is no formula for success but the ITHAKA S+R studies show that all scholars hope to gain control over an ever increasing array of digital tools and the research resources they yield. The presentation will first summarize what the studies show about how scholars and scientists themselves understand their tasks, and the opportunities and obstacles they face as the conditions of research evolve. There is the need for capitalizing on new formats for discovery, storing and managing resources, collaborating, and disseminating their work. The second part of the presentation will address ITHAKA S+R’s recommendations for libraries in guiding scholars through the digital transition, particularly in prompting recognition of disciplinary differences. Or, as one scholar put it: “When you go there and talk with them, you know that the goal is trying to help you.” Participants in the session will be invited to speak about what the ITHAKA S+R studies contribute to library practices, particularly how they can be tailored to researchers’ disciplinary needs and expectations.


Steve Weiland

Professor of Higher Education, Michigan State University

Jennifer Dean

Dean of University Libraries, University of Detroit Mercy

Thursday November 7, 2019 2:30pm - 3:10pm EST
Grand Ballroom 2, Gaillard Center