Jerusalem, Israel — October 7, 2021
An Ex Libris–commissioned report reveals effects of COVID-19 on STEM and non-STEM funding and uncovers a greater institutional focus on showcasing research expertise, an increased emphasis on societal impact, and growing researcher expectations for support with administrative tasks
Jerusalem, Israel—October 07, 2021. Ex Libris, a ProQuest company, is pleased to announce the publication of its annual study on the challenges that academic researchers face, the priorities of research office leaders, and key opportunities for libraries and research offices to advance scholarship at their institution.
Commissioned by Ex Libris, the study was conducted by Alterline, an independent research agency. The report presents findings from a survey of over 400 researchers and research office leaders across a range of disciplines in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
The survey yielded the following key findings:
- COVID-19 has affected research funding significantly, with STEM fields seeing an increase in funding, while in the humanities, social sciences, and arts, funding is declining.
- Funding remains a key challenge for researchers. Finding relevant funding opportunities (a task rated difficult or very difficult by 61% of the surveyed researchers) and applying for grants (rated difficult or very difficult by 80% of the researchers) continue to be the most demanding elements of the research life cycle. On a positive note, campus research offices have been supporting researchers’ search for funding more in 2021 than in 2020.
- The showcasing of research and expertise is increasing in importance for research office leaders, who are paying greater attention to the value of exposing scholarship on an institutional research portal. However, researchers maintain profiles across a large number of networks, and only 43% state that they keep their profiles completely up to date.
- Research office members and researchers differ in the way in which they measure research impact. Citation-based metrics are at the top of the list, used by 94% of the surveyed researchers and 68% of research office staff. Measuring social impact has been significantly more important in 2021, according to 57% of research offices, than it was in 2020, according to 43% of research offices. In 2021, measuring social impact has been significantly more important for 28% of researchers.
- The administrative burden on researchers continues to be a major challenge. Seven out of 10 researchers spend at least 30% of their time on administrative tasks. The core expertise of libraries and research offices is still underutilized, though support for a few tasks has increased since 2020.
- Interdisciplinary collaboration is high on researchers’ agenda, with 37% of researchers saying that most or all of their work involves interdisciplinary collaboration. This figure aligns somewhat with research office priorities; 25% of research office leaders stated that promoting interdisciplinary collaboration is a priority.
- Researchers expect more from their library than in 2020. Although 61% of researchers expressed satisfaction with the support they receive from their institution’s library, they expect more assistance than in 2020, especially with data-related services and services such as publication depositing.
- Collaboration between research offices and libraries has risen in 2021. Research office leaders report that their collaboration with the library increased by 6% on average from 2020. Open-access compliance is the main area of collaboration, primarily for UK respondents.
Ex Libris Corporate Vice President of Learning and Research Solutions Shlomi Kringel commented, “Libraries and research offices are playing a key role in supporting researchers in the face of a changing research landscape, growing competition for funding, and increased administrative burdens. This year’s study highlights some of the opportunities for research offices and libraries to effectively use their core expertise and resources in supporting scholarship and advancing research excellence as a whole.”
This year’s study highlights some of the opportunities for research offices and libraries to effectively use their core expertise and resources in supporting scholarship and advancing research excellence as a whole.
Alterline Research Manager Zara Lawson said, “Despite the difficult nature of the last 18 months, we have seen resilience and adaptability in the higher-education sector’s efforts to support researchers. On one hand, there are growing disparities of funding between disciplines. On the other hand, our research suggests that some positive trends may have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including a greater focus on social impact, growing research collaboration, and enhanced attention to the showcasing of institutional research work.”
About Ex Libris
Ex Libris, a ProQuest company, is a leading global provider of cloud-based SaaS solutions that enable institutions and their individual users to create, manage, and share knowledge. In close collaboration with its customers and the broader community, Ex Libris develops creative solutions that increase library productivity, maximize the impact of research activities, enhance teaching and learning, and drive student mobile engagement. Ex Libris serves over 7,500 customers in 90 countries. For more information, see our website and join us on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
Alterline is an insight and intelligence agency specializing in higher education. Over the past nine years we have worked on more than 70 university campuses to drive positive change based on the development of an independent and evidenced understanding of the student experience. Our tailored and collaborative insight services cover decision-making and experience across undergraduate and postgraduate student life cycles including recruitment, teaching and learning, library user experience, and alumni engagement. Building communities of best practice around insight and intelligence tools, our work offers university teams opportunities for shared learning and collaboration, which underpin service performance improvement and drive exciting innovations.