A Slice of Research Life: Information Support for Research in the United States

An OCLC Research Report by:

Susan Kroll and Rick Forsman.

Download the report »
(US Letter .pdf)

Written by Susan Kroll and Rick Foresman for OCLC Research and the RLG Partnership, this report summarizes interviews held with researchers, research assistants, graduate students, grant and other research administration specialists, and university administrators at four elite U.S. research universities. Participants reported on how they use information in the course of their research, what tools and services are most critical and beneficial to them, where they continue to experience unmet needs, and how they prioritize use of their limited time. While some universities have devised services to better manage data and other information derived from research, many researchers flounder in a disorganized and rising accumulation of useful findings that may be lost or unavailable when conducting future research.

Key highlights:

  • Productivity of U.S. researchers continues to be built on a foundation of direct human connection, researcher to researcher.
  • Because of tremendous pressures on their time, researchers adopt information tools and services that are easy to use and that simplify their work, even when those tools and services are less-than-optimal.
  • Though researchers have quickly come to rely on access to electronic journal content, little thought is currently spent on how content is made available to them and what long-term storage issues might exist.
  • Most universities don't plan for Managing the Storage, Maintenance, and Retrieval of Documents and Data Sets Over Time.
  • Despite all of the technological advances, researchers depend upon personal introductions and face-to-face interaction.
  • Researchers do not realize what expertise librarians have to offer their users, are uninformed about services offered, and have little idea what the library
  • might do in the future.
  • Academic libraries can support research by developing and aggregating discipline-based tools, providing customized services, and emphasizing user-centered services.

For more information:

Jennifer Schaffner
Program Officer
OCLC Research

Suggested citation:

Kroll, Susan and Rick Forsman. 2010. "A Slice of Research Life: Information Support for Research in the United States." Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Research. http://www.oclc.org/content/dam/research/publications/library/2010/2010-15.pdf

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