Initial Survey Results – Searching

* This post is the second of several installments where we describe our initial findings from our scholarly workflow survey. This post centers our participants’ thoughts on the searching component of the research process.
When searching for new relevant research-related information (books, articles, etc.) our respondents largely rely on library databases (72%), Google Scholar (64%), and Google (48%).A majority of survey participants (87%) widely agreed or strongly agreed that it is easy to find relevant research articles and other information needed for their work.
searching graph

Penn State’s 2012 FACAC survey of technology use by faculty and students provides an interesting comparison with our study’s data.  FACAC is administered to approximately 2000 respondents, 11% of which were faculty.  In the FACAC study, the library resources and services most used by faculty were: The CAT (library catalog) (73.4%), Library databases (58.7%), Google Scholar (48.0%), and My Library Account (45.7%).   Our study placed the CAT under the general category of library databases, and our numbers correspond with the FACAC findings.  The only disparity between the two studies is that more faculty in our study indicated that they use Google Scholar on a regular basis than FACAC respondents. (see chart below)

FACAC searching

What does all of this say about faculty’s searching habits and preferences?  Both the FACAC and our study’s findings indicate that the library is still a primary destination for faculty to search for, find, and retrieve information.  This runs somewhat contrary to the recent ITHAKA study of historians, which indicated that faculty are turning to Google first for research.  This means that for the time being, libraries should continue to optimize, enhance, and direct significant energy toward refining, embedding, and enhancing their web presence.  The library web site’s primacy in scholarly research may not last for much longer.

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