This Fall Ithaka S+R is launching a new project to explore the research support needs of Civil and Environmental Engineering scholars.

Civil and Environmental Engineering focuses on the built and natural environment, including the design and maintenance of infrastructure and buildings and stewardship of natural resources. Our project seeks to develop a holistic understanding of these scholars’ information needs by attending to the full life cycle of their information activities, including information discovery, management and dissemination. Of particular interest are information needs that arise in the course of collaboration and sharing data, in recognition that engaging with professional engineers and the industry more widely are important activities within the field.

For the Civil and Environmental Engineering Project, we are collaborating with research teams at ten institutions with strength in the field:

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Toronto
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Iowa State University
  • University of Waterloo
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • North Carolina State University
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

We are delighted to have the American Society of Civil Engineers (ACSE) as a project partner and sponsor. Angela Cochran, Associate Publisher at ASCE will be serving as an ongoing project advisor. The project also relies on scholars who are leaders in the field to engage in an advisory capacity. We thank Franz-Joseph Ulm (MIT), Antonio Nanni (University of Miami),  Anand Puppala (University of Texas at Arlington) and Roger Ghanem (University of Southern California) for their insight thus far.

Each participating library will assemble a research team, participate in an Ithaka S+R training workshop, and conduct qualitative research on engineering faculty at their institution. This research will result in a local report authored by the participating institutions that considers researchers’ needs in the context of that institution. Ithaka S+R will also use a sample of the data gathered from each institution towards creating a report that considers researcher activities across the engineering discipline more widely. I will be leading the two-day kickoff workshop at the University of Delaware on October 16-17.

The project utilizes a unique collaborative qualitative methodology developed by Ithaka S+R in order to create insights on scholarly activities that are both institution-specific and discipline-wide. Each team will then conduct interviews with Civil and Environmental Engineering scholars at their own institution and write reports highlighting the information needs of their scholars. The semi-structured interview guide is designed to capture the full breadth of Civil and Environmental Engineering scholars’ research activities including information discovery and management, and communicating findings.  Ithaka S+R will also develop a publicly available capstone report on information needs across the field that draws on the data collected by the participating institutions. Both the local reports developed by each institution and Ithaka S+R’s final report will make actionable recommendations for how libraries (and others) can best support their research going forward.

The Civil and Environmental Engineering project is our third project that looks specifically at the research needs of scientists, following earlier studies on Agriculture and Chemistry.  We have also released studies on Art History, History, and Religious Studies and. Projects on Asian Studies and Public Health are currently underway, with more to be announced soon. We are also actively considering additional fields that should be added to this research program, and we welcome expressions of interest from libraries, scholars, learned societies, potential sponsors, and others.