The latest installment in Ithaka S+R’s series of Research Support Services projects investigates the research practices and support needs of scholars in the field of languages and literature. Today we are excited to publish the project’s capstone report

The research that underlies this report was conducted prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we believe our findings resonate now more than ever. The field of languages and literature is noteworthy among other humanities disciplines for its adherence to the “core text” as an anchor for research processes, and in its wholesale investment in the physicality of texts (broadly defined), both as research tools and as objects of research. In one sense, the effects of COVID-19, including closures to physical libraries and archives and deep cuts to print budgets, threaten this rich tradition. At the same time, the pandemic offers an opportunityor perhaps a mandatefor the field to put in place systems for valuing and rewarding digital humanities and public humanities work. In this report, we share our findings and recommendations in order to highlight opportunities for a variety of stakeholders, including libraries, archives, professional societies, and vendors, to better support scholarship in this important field.

This project was carried out with the generous support of the Modern Language Association (MLA) and in partnership with researchers at 14 US academic libraries. MLA also furnished a fifteenth research team which focused on scholars at regional comprehensive colleges and universities in the United States. Each research team wrote a report and made recommendations to improve support for language and literature scholars at their own institutions; links to these reports are listed below. Ithaka S+R’s capstone report complements these findings by stepping back to evaluate the broader research support ecosystem in which language and literature scholars operate.

Looking ahead, we will continue to explore how research and teaching practices within the humanities are being affected during this turbulent time. Most notably, thanks to generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we will be developing a new project articulating instructors’ experiences of teaching with cultural heritage materials during the transition to remote instruction during the pandemic. This work builds off the landmark large-scale study on Supporting Teaching with Primary Sources that is near completion. Additional projects on Teaching with Data in the Social Sciences and Supporting Big Data Research are also underway. For more information, or if you are interested in your library participating as a research site for a future project, please email

Local Reports

Brown University
Ashley Champagne, Heather Cole, Sarah Evelyn, and Patricia Figueroa, “Supporting Modern Language and Literature Research in the 21st Century,” 2019, DOI: 10.26300/931m-f710.

Columbia University
Ian G. Beilin, Nancy E. Friedland, Pamela M. Graham, Jeremiah R. Mercurio, Sócrates Silva, John L. Tofanelli, and Sarah S. Witte, “Research Support Services for Modern Languages and Literatures: Columbia University Libraries Local Report,” 2019, DOI: 10.7916/d8-bkjj-rn70.

Georgetown University
Emily Guhde, Melissa Jones, and Jade Madrid, “Georgetown University Library Modern Languages & Literatures Study,” 2019,

Haverford College
Semyon Khokhlov and Margaret Schaus, “Research Practices among Literature and Languages Faculty at Haverford College,” 2019,

Indiana University Bloomington
Catherine J. Minter, Luis A. González, and Angela Courtney, “Supporting Scholars in Literature and Culture at Indiana University Bloomington,” 2019,

Johns Hopkins University
Margaret Burri, Heidi Herr, and Jessica Keyes, “Supporting Research in Modern Languages and Literature,” 2019,

Kansas State University
Team: Sara Kearns and Ellen Urton. Report not made public.

Modern Language Association
Anne Donlon, Angela Ecklund, Julian Haller, and Julie Frick Wade, “Language and Literature Research in Regional Comprehensive Institutions: A Report by the Modern Language Association,” 2020,

New York University
Amanda Watson, Guy Burak, and Alla Roylance, “Supporting Scholars in Literature and Writing Studies at New York University,” 2019,

Rutgers University
Triveni Kuchi, James P. Niessen, and Jonathan Sauceda, “Research Practices of Scholars in Literatures, Writing, and Cultural Studies: A Qualitative Study of Faculty at Rutgers University–New Brunswick,” 2019, DOI: 10.7282/t3-2ydq-5h89.

Swarthmore College
Roberto Vargas and Pamela Harris, “Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Scholars across English Literature and Modern Languages and Literatures at Swarthmore College,” 2019, DOI: 10.24968/2476-2458.libr.82.

University of Illinois at Chicago
Carl Lehnen and Glenda Insua, “Research Practices of Literature, Culture, and Writing Scholars: A Local Report at the University of Illinois at Chicago,” 2019,

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Matthew Roberts and Paula Mae Carns, “UIUC Library Findings: Ithaka S+R/MLA Modern Languages and Literatures Report 2019,” 2019,

University of Pennsylvania
Katie Rawson, Charles J. Cobine, and Samantha Kirk, “Supporting Changing Research Practices of Language and Literature Scholars at the University of Pennsylvania,” 2019,

University of Utah
Darby Fanning, Robert Behra, Marie Paiva, and Lis Pankl, “Research Practices and Support Needs of Language and Literature Faculty at the University of Utah,” 2019,