/ Anything Else? Assessing the Needs of Researchers at the Library of Paris-Dauphine

Abstract

In March 2017, the library of Université Paris-Dauphine launched a survey to assess researchers’ level of familiarity with Open Access, research data, text mining and the new legal environment. The survey aimed to examine the use of existing tools and services, and to identify new and emerging research practices.’

The results of the survey revealed a still somewhat traditional view of library tools and services. The researchers who were surveyed also demonstrated proportionally limited knowledge of Open Access and research data management.

Keywords: library services, survey, metrics, research data, data management, open access, French law for a digital republic

For many years, the library of Université Paris-Dauphine has played a national reference role in France in the fields of management and economics, while offering resources on a wide range of subjects, including: Law, sociology, computer science, mathematics and political science.

With 42 full-time employees, the library of Université Paris-Dauphine is relatively small compared to other French university libraries. As a result, the library must be strategic in deciding which services will effectively meet the needs of its patrons. In 2016, after considerable discussion, several library services were reshaped. In September of 2016, the creation of a new research support service in the library was finalized. The primary purpose of this new service was to meet the changing needs of researchers and PhD students, whose expectations of library services had changed as a result of today’s evolving information environment.

As part of an internship opportunity offered to students at the French National school of Library and Information Science (ENSSIB), Ms. Juliette Pinçon was selected to help conduct a library survey under the coordination of Ms. Christine Okret-Manville, Head librarian in charge of the new research support service. The survey, which was launched in March of 2017, consisted of a relatively long online questionnaire. It was followed up by a round of face-to-face interviews with researchers and PhD students.

This article mainly focuses on the results of the online survey.

Purpose

The project had two aims: To be inquisitive and informative. The survey had to consider the user experience as a starting point in order to improve existing services, but it also had to assess researchers’ level of familiarity with Open Access, research data, text mining and the new legal environment.

The survey was set up in order to prioritize the examination of existing tools and services before considering any future changes to library services. It was also designed to be pedagogical and communicative: To show what exists, and to raise awareness about Open Access, text and data mining, and so on.

Based on the feedback and opinions of researchers and PhD students, a pragmatic roadmap was designed by the library’s new research support service.

The survey was administered online between March 6th and March 31st, 2017, using LimeSurvey.

Promotion and marketing of the survey consisted of posters, flyers, mailing lists, Twitter, Facebook, the library research newsletter, and the library portal.

The results of the survey are based on 121 responses received from 74 researchers and 47 PhD students.

Figure 1.: Demographics of questionnaire respondents
Figure 1.
Demographics of questionnaire respondents

Responsiveness to the survey varied greatly among research centers. While the Social Sciences (IRISSO) ranked first with a 40% participation rate for researchers and a 36% participation rate for PhD students, only 6% of the researchers in the Research Center for Mathematics responded to the survey. Participation rates among the Research Centers for Economics, Computer Science, Management and Law were also comparatively low—ranging from 18% for researchers in Economics to 29.6% participation for researchers in Law. Among the lowest to participate were PhD students in Management at 12.7% and PhD students in Law whose participation rate was just 7.3%. Based on the rates of participation, enthusiasm for libraries and data management appears to be weaker in mathematics than in any other research field.

Collections and the Library Portal

Overall, about 67% of researchers are satisfied with the physical holdings of the library but many also point out that they would like to see additional resources added. In general, researchers in the social sciences and law desire physical resources, while researchers in mathematics and computer science prefer the broad range of electronic resources available through the library. For researchers in economics and management, levels of satisfaction are proportionally higher than their peers, due in part to the level of specialized resources that the library offers in these fields.

The following panel demonstrates the diversity of comments regarding library collections.

Figure 2.: Survey comments on library collections
Figure 2.
Survey comments on library collections

The survey also questioned users about their knowledge and use of the library portal. According to the results, 87.6% of respondents use the portal, but most are not aware of all of its features. About 35% of respondents reported using the library portal features for “quick access to your favorite databases” and “ability to suggest new acquisitions.” However, only 10.4% of respondents reported using the “suggested readings” feature and just 3.8% reported using the feature for “retrieving bibliographical records in Zotero.” In spite of the low usage/appreciation numbers, more than 50% of respondents expressed interest in all of the features of the library portal. As a result, the library may need to consider additional communication channels in order to increase awareness of all of the library portal features.

New Services and the Library Portal

The survey also questioned researchers about future services offered through the library portal.

Figure 3.: Survey responses regarding library portal
Figure 3.
Survey responses regarding library portal

According to survey results, 64.2% of respondents expressed interest in receiving advice about managing bibliographic references. 70.2% of respondents want specialized bibliographies with direct links to electronic resources. 77.7% want services which would provide a photocopy of select articles delivered directly to their office when an electronic copy is unavailable (common for French language journals), and 85.1% of the respondents want access to the full-text of an article either via Google Scholar or, when the library subscribes to the journal, via library links.

Provisions for Bibliographic Data

Among the many services provided by the library, only 2.5% of respondents reported using the e-mail alert service, which notifies users when the library acquires new books related to their research. In spite of the low usage, however, 71.9% of respondents expressed interest in the service, and 72.9% expressed interest in expanding the service further, to include journal articles.

Respondents also expressed considerable interest in other library services, yet to be developed.

Desired services include:

  • Being informed of the latest published books and articles in their discipline (76%)
  • Receiving a map of their discipline, in order to identify the top players in their field of research (institutions, laboratories, researchers, publishers, journals...) (71.9%)
  • Learning more about search trends via the most-used keywords in their discipline (63.6%)
  • Receiving regular information on the top players within their discipline (institutions, laboratories, researchers, publishers, journals ...) (57%)

Publishing and Open Access

In today’s information environment, libraries are often expected to provide detailed information to researchers regarding academic publishing and Open Access. According to the results of the survey which included questions related to publishing rights and intellectual property, only 14% of respondents considered themselves to be “aware” of the issues, and just 28.1% felt that they were “sufficiently informed.” Altogether, 51.2% of the respondents would “appreciate more information” on the issues.

Researchers’ lack of awareness concerning Open Access is not surprising. Due to the recent evolution of some European laws involving Open Access and data mining, a new French law creating a “Digital Republic” was passed in October of 2016.

Article 30 of the new law provides a legal framework for researchers to archive an Open Access copy of their scientific publications, whenever they are publicly funded, at the end of a specific period of time. For the sciences, technical sciences, and medicine, this right is granted six months after the date of publication. For the humanities and social sciences, the archiving right opens after 12 months from the date of publication. Article 30 also ensures the re-usability of open data derived from public funding. The 38th article of the same law creates new exceptions for Text and Data Mining and modifies the intellectual property code as follows:

Right holders cannot forbid “Copies and digital reproductions made from a lawful source for the purposes of mining text and data included in or associated with scientific publications, for public research purposes, excluding all commercial purposes”  [translation]

76% of respondents to the survey were not aware of any changes in the laws concerning free access to publications, text and data mining. In spite of this, 59.5% of researchers who were surveyed admitted that they wish they knew more about intellectual property laws.

Figure 4.: Survey responses regarding open access
Figure 4.
Survey responses regarding open access

A large majority of the respondents (73% of researchers / 83% of PhD students) have never published an article in an Open Access journal. Moreover, depositing full-text articles in the library’s institutional repository is not a self-evident process. Most of the 70 respondents who had not yet submitted their publications explained that they’re not familiar with the “opportunities involving Open Access” (26 responses). Many researchers also want to “avoid conflicts with publishers” (22 responses) and some simply “lack the time” to commit to such a process (18 responses). “Fear of plagiarism” was also cited by 18 respondents.

For the 53 respondents who self-confessed to submitting the full-text of their publications for Open Access, many admitted to doing so as a matter of principle.

Open Access justifications include:

  • Promoting access to knowledge (31 respondents)
  • Upholding the traditions of the scientific community (10 respondents)
  • Feeling that publicly funded research belongs to the community (24 respondents)
  • Increasing the visibility of the work (30 respondents)
  • Fighting publishers’ pricing policies (13 respondents).

Metrics

According to the results of the survey, respondents are not yet convinced of the benefits Open Access would provide related to the visibility of their research. 57.1% of respondents still attach “some importance” to the impact factor of journals when they seek to publish an article. In spite of some hesitation around Open Access, respondents to the survey did express interest in assessing the visibility and influence of Open Access journals.

Other desired metrics include:

  • Alerts when someone quotes one of their articles (71.1 %)
  • Bibliometric data associated with their publications (citations in articles, mentions on social networks) (65.3 %)
  • Information on the evolution of indicators linked to research publications (59.5 %)
  • Opinion data related to the positions of research centers in their discipline (59.5 %)
  • Bibliometric data associated with new and related publications (52.1%)
  • Aggregate lists of publications and other scholars’ profiles (51.2%).

This list of desired metrics presents unique opportunities for the library to implement new services related to research metrics and citation analysis.

Research Data

In 2009, the library of Université Paris-Dauphine created its first Open Access institutional repository. Similar to other libraries, the Université is now considering building ‘Research Data Management’ into its current OA policy.

Curating and referencing the results of research associated with scientific publications aligns well with the Open Science policy for FAIR research, which states that data that is produced from publicly funded sources should be “findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable” by other researchers. The question regarding research data was therefore an important point assessed in the survey.

For the 101 respondents who use research data, most “use data of their own production” (24.8% sometimes; 24% often; 23.1% always).

Other research data testimonies include:

  • Never using the data produced by their own research unit (51.2 %)
  • Sometimes using data produced by one-time or recurring research partners (37.2 %)
  • Sometimes using previously produced data from other researchers (36.4%)
  • Never paying for commercial or proprietary data (53.7%)
Figure 5.: Survey responses regarding use of research data
Figure 5.
Survey responses regarding use of research data

According to the results of the survey, approximately half of the 102 respondents expressed a desire for specific tools or training related to analyzing research data. Since 48.8% of respondents are already “searching large corpuses of texts and data,” an opportunity exists for the library to help researchers and PhD students explore these large datasets. 60.8% of the respondents also identified “quickly [targeting] the most relevant documents for their research” as an important step in the research process.

45.1% of the respondents reported a desire for statistical and document processing software, as well as data visualization applications, including: Matlab, Stata, Python, SAS, and SPSS. French vocabulary software and word correlation analysis tools were also mentioned, including: Gargantext and Alceste.

One respondent noted that “Library training is okay, but these tools must be installed on the researchers’ computers.”

According to the results of the survey, 15.7% of the respondents provided no answer to the question “Where do you store your research data once it is produced?” An additional 75.2% of the respondents self-confessed that they store their data “on a dedicated personal disk.” Meanwhile, only 7.4% of respondents “store [their] data on some disk-space organized at the level of their research unit” and 4.1% “store [their] data on platforms dedicated to dissemination and/or preservation” (e.g. Dropbox, HubiC, Google Drive).

Data Availability

At the time of the survey, very few researchers or PhD students had made their research data publicly available. In fact, only 16 of 121 respondents reported that they had “already made their research data available.”

Figure 6.: Survey responses regarding making research data available
Figure 6.
Survey responses regarding making research data available

Data Management Plans

Confronted with the question of data management plans (DMP), the survey results revealed that respondents maintain a very limited knowledge of the subject. According to the results, only one respondent had developed a DMP, and approximately 50% of the respondents “[had] never heard of” data management plans.

For the respondents who maintained some familiarity with data management planning, only 3.4% indicated that the research programs in which they were currently involved actually included a DMP. An additional 33.1% shared that their program “doesn’t include this kind of procedure.”

Awareness around data management is clearly at a very early stage of development among researchers. Since the legal framework of protection for research data is still evolving, the need for increased training and information creates a unique opportunity for library involvement. Of the 102 respondents who completed the survey, 62.8% expressed a desire for “more information about [data management plans]” and 30.4% indicated that they “would likely benefit from tools and other support for managing their research data.”

The respondents’ desire for additional support was also cited in the free-text comments obtained via the survey. Requests included: Individual coaching, workshops, tutorials, assistance collecting materials (e.g. identifying appropriate databases), and help preparing documents for textual analysis. One respondent even expressed a desire for a service related to data preservation: “As a start, it would be nice to be able to record data and documents on the server of the university. Currently everything is on my hard drive, with no back up. Access to faster computers would also be interesting.”

Historically, data management, data preservation, and intellectual property principles have not been considered a priority among researchers. However, due to the establishment of the institutional repository, conversations around library services for data needs have started to take shape.

Conclusion

Unsurprisingly, the results of the survey also reflect a still relatively traditional view of library tools and services. The priorities expressed by researchers and PhD students as they relate to library services are still very much associated with the provision of books and articles.

Accordingly, 52.9% of the respondents cite “document acquisition and supply” as the primary service of the library. “Subject specific selection and acquisition” was also recognized as a key library service (46.1 %).

Other services include:

  • Library coaching for PhDs (33.3 %)
  • Assistance searching and using library documents (27.5 %)
  • Conducting bibliometric analyses (25.5 %)
  • Offering reading suggestions (24.5%)
  • Providing information concerning the research publication circuit (24.5 %)
  • Soliciting suggestions for acquisition (23.5 %)

All of these services align with traditional roles that the library has fulfilled, and continues to fulfill.

Additional roles that the library could achieve, include: helping with publication strategies, or guiding researchers on the publishing process (noted by 23.5% of the respondents). The library could also provide more information on Open Access (20.6%) or promote research data services (20.6 %). Ultimately, it’s clear that the needs of researchers and PhD students have evolved, even if their expectations about library services have not kept pace with the range of services that the library is currently able and willing to provide.

Confronted with researchers limited knowledge of Open Access and research data management, the implementation of new library services is certainly going to require careful thought, preparation, and time. The establishment of the institutional repository nine years ago, however, has been a good first step toward identifying milestones, establishing timelines, and organizing the resources required to deploy these types of services. In funding research projects of this size, the European Union now encourages researchers to make their results and data discoverable via Open Access. This survey is one of the ways that the library of Université Paris-Dauphine is raising awareness about Open Access and many of the other issues researchers face, now and in the future.