The complexity of contemporary research practices have created significant demand for a wide range of support services within university research communities. Libraries and other campus units have responded by developing an array of research data support services to help researchers learn new tools, improve their skill sets, and manage their data across the research lifecycle. Because these services often evolved without central oversight or cross-unit coordination, it can be difficult for users to understand exactly what is available to them and for senior administrators to make informed decisions about how to prepare the institution to meet current and future support needs on campus.

As part of a collaboration with 29 research universities to efficiently and effectively deliver research data support services across campus, Ithaka S+R has conducted a large-scale inventory of service offerings in the United States and Canada. We are excited to publish findings from the inventory today. Our findings provide recent data on the types of services offered by universities, common models for delivering those services, and the distribution of research data support services across the entire university.

This data will be of value to universities interested in benchmarking their research data support services against peer institutions, maximizing their value to campus research communities, and making decisions about how to fund and staff them. Funders and other stakeholders will gain insight into existing strengths and gaps in the ecosystem that can inform decisions about how to support a robust research enterprise.

Our key findings are as follows:

  • While there are wide divergences in the number and variety of services offered both within and across Carnegie Classifications, R1 institutions offer approximately three times the number of services offered by R2s, and more than nine times the number offered by liberal arts colleges.
  • General research data services are the most common type offered regardless of institution type. Statistical services, geospatial services, and visualization services are also common at research universities, which typically offer a much wider range of specialized services than liberal arts colleges.
  • Libraries remain the largest provider of research data services at US and Canadian research universities, but IT and units associated with the research office play important collaborative roles, especially with specialized services.
  • Bioinformatics services are offered almost exclusively through the interdisciplinary units associated with the research office or core facilities associated with medical schools.
  • Consulting services are the most common mode of service provision, comprising almost three quarters of all data services.

What’s Next for Ithaka S+R?

The inventory findings published today are an important milestone in our ongoing Building Campus Strategies for Data Support Services project. In early 2025, we will publish our final report from this project, which will include close analysis of interviews of researchers from across the cohort and provide recommendations to stakeholders about how to best coordinate research data support services.

We are also developing new projects that will further our engagement with critical issues in the research enterprise and the provision of research support services. Last month, we launched an international survey of generative AI adoption and support needs among biomedical researchers. We are currently designing a new national survey of researcher practices and support needs to provide quantitative data to complement the qualitative insights gained from researcher interviews. We are also interested in developing projects that will address the unique challenges faced by emerging research institutions and build trust and integrity throughout the research lifecycle.

For more information about these projects, contact Dylan Ruediger (