Understanding the Information Support Needs of Scholars

Today sees the start of a new programme of work that’s exploring Research Support Services for Scholars (RSS4S) being undertaken by Ithaka S+R.

As the blog for the projects makes clear:

This series of discipline-specific projects aims to provide critically needed research about the evolving behavior of scholars to the information support service providers who work with them.

JISC is funding one of the projects in this programme that’s examining Chemistry. This project is attempting to understand the impact that new and innovative practices in this domain are having on traditional service providers that historically supported their work.

The changing information environment has resulted in gaps developing between researcher needs and the services available to support scholars.

Chemistry is a particularly interesting subject to explore, it is one of the hard sciences that are often seen as difficult for traditional support services, such as the library, to meet its information needs. Furthermore, it is a subject area that JISC has a long engagement with, for example: Chemistry Using Text Annotations and Chemical Laboratory Repository Notebooks projects.

In addition to the JISC funded Chemistry project Ithaka have been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities(NEH) to explore the subject of History.

The intention is to have a number of other disciplines as part of the programme, so that an overview of researchers can be obtained and recommendations can be developed as to how service providers can best adapt to support the information needs of scholars.

What makes this programme of work even more important is that funding bodies in both the UK and US recognise the need for work to explore the evolving research practices and support needs of scholars. With a researcher-centric approach this work will ensure that the requirements of the user (in this case the researcher) are at the heart of support service developments.

Without this evidence the information support service providers who work with researchers, such as academic libraries, digital/data centers and scholarly societies will be unable to ensure that scholars in the UK and internationally are best situated to continue their world class research.

Chemists at Work, The University of Iowa Libraries

To find out more about this programme you can read the project page on the JISC website, or follow the Ithaka project blog.