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January 14, 2021

Maximizing and Assessing Engagement with Virtual Library Space

While states across the US have begun vaccine distribution and plan for further tiered rollout over the course of the year, COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations continue to be at all-time highs across most of the country. Campuses continue to push back the start date of the spring term, and the CDC has just released new data tying county-level, off-campus infections to on-campus residency. It is all but certain that higher education institutions will continue looking to…
January 13, 2021

Upcoming National Survey of Community College Library Directors

We are excited to announce that Ithaka S+R will launch a national survey of community college library directors and those in equivalent leadership positions this February. This study is part of a three-year IMLS-funded initiative—the Community College Academic and Student Service Ecosystem (CCASSE) project—to examine the current landscape of student service provision at community colleges and the role of the library in best contributing toward student success within this ecosystem. Over the course of the project, we have already…
January 12, 2021

Data Repository Platforms: A Primer

While scholars generally believe in the value of sharing and preserving research datasets, many do not believe it’s worth their time to do so. And, when they do invest their time in data sharing and preservation, they tend to have a preference for doing so in an independent and self-reliant fashion. These are issues that we have not only documented through our long-standing national faculty survey but ones that we have contended with in our own work…
January 11, 2021

When to Ask (or Not Ask) Demographic Questions

People are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with sharing personal information—like email addresses, names of their spouses, and demographics such as race-ethnicity and gender—with their employers and other organizations more broadly. Many people are concerned about their privacy as more and more data are collected in a wide range of contexts. Some are apprehensive about research and associated data collection in general due to its history of racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination and mistreatment in a…
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January 4, 2021

Not Much Has (Yet) Changed

Open Access Priorities and the Impact of COVID-19

As it became clear at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that research on the virus was greatly needed by both scholars and the general public, many publishers quickly opened up access to previously paywalled content. Open access sharing of COVID-19 data became relatively more common with organizations such as the National Institutes of Health compiling and sharing databases of articles, enabling researchers…
December 17, 2020

What is the Academic Research Enterprise?

At this week’s CNI meeting, we presented findings from several recent studies we conducted about the academic research enterprise (video is available here). Taking an inclusive approach, we offered a broad working definition of the research enterprise: “the systems, services, policy, and staffing for the work of the university to generate knowledge.” In the session, CNI’s Clifford Lynch asked us to probe a little more deeply how this term can be scoped. Here,…
December 16, 2020

Creating Virtual Library Spaces

Emerging Technologies

Many college students across the country, in light of the impacts of the pandemic on teaching, learning, and the broader student experience, feel disconnected from their peers and institutions, and crave the right kinds of space—quiet space, in particular—for effectively completing their coursework. Fostering a sense of belonging and providing spaces for both collaborative and independent student work have long…
December 16, 2020

Three questions for Toya Wall

Ascendium Education Group

In October, Ithaka S+R announced that we are embarking on a new project funded by Ascendium Education Group that will allow us to expand our current work on increasing access to quality educational resources for higher education in prison (HEP) programs. For our quarterly newsletter, we recently asked Toya Wall, a senior program officer at Ascendium, about the challenges facing postsecondary education in prison and her organization’s focus on increasing access for incarcerated learners.   1.    Could you tell…
December 15, 2020

Ithaka S+R to Expand Transfer Improvement Efforts with CUNY

With Support from the Petrie Foundation, ACT Project Expands from Three to Seven CUNY Campuses 

When students transfer from one college to another they frequently are unable to count their previously earned credits toward degree requirements at their new institutions, jeopardizing these students’ ability to earn their degrees. Nationally, 43 percent of credits are wasted during transfer, and students who lose that many credits are far less likely to graduate than students who are able to transfer most of their credits. While other…
December 10, 2020

Reimagining the Future of Higher Education Funding

Ithaka S+R Releases Two New Issue Briefs on State Higher Education Funding

Since the early 2000s, per student state funding has declined while costs of public higher education have shifted towards students and families. This comes during a period when wealth and income gaps have been climbing. The Great Recession of 2008 accelerated this shifting cost burden at a time when many individuals unable to secure employment returned to postsecondary education for new training or upskilling. In the wake of the Great Recession, state funding for higher education…
December 9, 2020

The Impact of COVID-19 on Academic Libraries

New Report

Since 2010, Ithaka S+R has fielded a triennial survey to examine the priorities and strategies of library directors. Historically, the three-year time frame has been appropriate for tracking trends. But after releasing the most recent iteration in April 2020, we recognized that both the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing movements for racial justice were having an immediate impact on academic libraries.  To examine the extent of library leaders’ prioritization of equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism…
December 3, 2020

An Updated Snapshot of the Archival Profession

Gearing up for A*CENSUS II

In 2004, the Society of American Archivists led A*CENSUS, the first broadscale survey of individual archivists in the United States in nearly thirty years. The initiative resulted in tremendous impact for the archival field. For institutions and professional organizations, the data informed the design of new curricula and the assessment of current educational offerings; for archival institutions, the opportunity to advocate for resources, set goals, and benchmark against peers; and for researchers, the…
December 1, 2020

Leadership for the Research Enterprise

For many of the largest universities, the research enterprise is an essential component of the mission. And during this year of pandemic related disruptions, it has proved to be one of the most resilient sources of university revenue. In recent years, major universities have established senior research officers to provide a unitary source of leadership for this vital work. Today, my colleague Oya Rieger and I are publishing a major examination of the role of the senior…
November 18, 2020

Four Strategies for Crafting Inclusive and Effective Demographic Questions

At Ithaka S+R, we regularly re-evaluate the quality and inclusivity of the demographic questions we include in our surveys, just as we do with all of the items in our instruments. These questions undergo a rigorous, iterative revision process: we conduct desk research, gather feedback from advisors, test all questions with potential participants prior to launching, and pay attention to trends in open-ended responses to our questions. All of these approaches, along with following trends in research and…
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November 18, 2020

Counting Research Data Services

How many, and what kinds, of research data services do US higher education institutions offer? Where are these services located within institutional structures? How do different types of colleges and universities differ in research data service provision? Academic institutions are in a data arms race, vying to produce cutting-edge, data-driven research across a wide range of disciplines. But the provision of research data services— support offerings which enable and improve data research…
November 16, 2020

Examining Institution-Level Income Distribution and Financial Aid Trends

New Report

In a 2019 report, we shared initial findings from a novel effort to compare key statistics on the income distribution of undergraduate populations and financial aid awards from three public sources: the Integrated Postsecondary Education System (IPEDS), Opportunity Insights, and the Common Data Set (CDS). Comparing these data sources across groups of higher education institutions organized by control (public or private) and admissions selectivity, we found that they presented similar income distributions, and…
November 12, 2020

Findings from the Inaugural Art Museum Director Survey

Benchmarking Perspectives from Early 2020

Today, Jennifer Frederick and I published findings from the inaugural art museum director survey, funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and conducted in partnership with the Association of Art Museum Directors and the American Alliance of Museums. The survey captures the perspectives of directors from a moment in time before the COVID-19 pandemic forced closures of museums in the US, and before the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor sparked major protests against police brutality…
November 11, 2020

The Relationships That Drive Campus Collaborations

How Museums and Libraries Grapple With Institutional Barriers Towards Working Together

As collecting institutions on campus, libraries and museums have a great deal to learn from each other. Libraries have excelled in adapting to digital environments, a development that has served them especially well during the COVID-19 pandemic. Academic museums have grown increasingly sophisticated as public spaces, serving as an access point for local communities and visitors of all kinds on otherwise exclusive campuses. In this way, notable competencies have emerged in the library sector towards breadth of access…
November 11, 2020

Introducing our Student Advisors

Community College Academic and Student Support Ecosystems

In 2019, Ithaka S+R began a three-year project, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), to help community colleges and their academic libraries more effectively support their students. This project, known as Community College Academic and Student Support Ecosystems (CCASSE), is part of a growing program of Ithaka S+R research focused on understanding, measuring, and increasing student success at community colleges. Our first phase of…
November 5, 2020

In the Eye of the Beholder

What’s a Digital Preservation System Anyway?

Today in celebration of the World Digital Preservation Day (WDPD), we would like to update you on a Ithaka S+R research initiative on the preservation front. Held on the first Thursday of every November, WDPD aims to promote greater awareness of the critical role preservation plays in providing enduring access to knowledge. Times like this further underscore the importance of preservation, given the imperative to archive diverse sources of information about the pandemic–not…