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Research Report
June 9, 2022

Streaming Media Licensing and Purchasing Practices at Academic Libraries

Survey Results

University instructors and students have a huge appetite for streaming media, and demand is growing apace as the format achieves mainstream market dominance over earlier technologies such as DVDs. University libraries purchase and license the bulk of this content intended for campus-wide (as opposed to personal) consumption and are facing numerous challenges associated with integrating streaming media into their collecting strategies. Pricing models can make it difficult to fully meet patron demands, and some collections feature content that is not…
Research Report
May 25, 2022

Overseeing the Overseers

Can Federal Oversight of Accreditation Improve Student Outcomes?

Since the passage of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965, the federal government has relied on the accreditation process to ensure quality at postsecondary institutions receiving federal dollars. In the ensuing decades, spending on higher education by the federal government—most significantly through federal student loans and grants—and by individuals has increased exponentially. Even as this spending helped fuel substantial growth in enrollment, a completion crisis has left many former students with debt but no degree, and highly uncertain labor…
Research Report
April 12, 2022

Aligning the Research Library to Organizational Strategy

Ithaka S+R was commissioned by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) to examine the strategic directions of research universities with the objective of identifying common themes that research libraries can consider in aligning to advance the research and learning mission both individually and collectively. This project draws on interviews and other forms of engagement conducted in 2021 with more than 60 university leaders (presidents, provosts, senior research officers, and chief information officers)…
Research Report
March 31, 2022

The Impacts of Emergency Micro-Grants on Student Success

Evaluation Study of Georgia State University’s Panther Retention Grant Program

The Panther Retention Grant (PRG) program at Georgia State University (Georgia State) is one of the nation’s pioneering examples of a retention or completion grant program, a type of emergency financial aid program aimed at supporting students with immediate financial need. The program, which specifically targets students who are in good academic standing and have exhausted all other sources of aid, automatically awards up to $2,500 to clear students’ unpaid balances and allow them to remain enrolled for the term.
Research Report
March 30, 2022

Underrepresentation of Black and Latino Undergraduates at America’s Most Selective Private Colleges and Universities

Attending a more selective college or university matters because these institutions graduate a larger share of their students. Attaining a bachelors’ degree in turn increases expected lifetime earnings by roughly 65 percent over attaining only a high school diploma. Who has access to these selective institutions therefore has an impact on economic and social mobility in America, an objective that justifies the large federal, state and local support of higher education across the country. However, the evidence suggests that these…
Research Report
March 17, 2022

Playbook for Transfer Pathways to the Liberal Arts

How to Design and Implement Statewide Pathways from Community Colleges to Independent Colleges

Bachelor’s degree attainment for community college transfer students is one underutilized but essential pathway for reducing equity gaps in higher education. One way to achieve this at scale is through state-level initiatives dedicated to supporting transfer from community colleges to not-for-profit independent colleges. The Teagle Foundation and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations’ Transfer Pathways to the Liberal Arts initiative aims to create such pathways in 20 states in the next five years. This playbook draws on the experience of grantees…
Research Report
March 1, 2022

Teaching with Cultural Heritage Materials During the Pandemic

Cultural heritage materials can offer rewarding learning opportunities and impactful experiences for students across a variety of disciplines, especially in the humanities and social sciences. These learning opportunities create important historical and/or cultural context within a discipline, allowing students to deepen their engagement with a discipline, or see themselves, perhaps for the first time, as a scholar. However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the attendant move to online instruction at many colleges and universities, disrupted pedagogical practices and the ways that…
Research Report
February 2, 2022

Archiving Degree Audit Data to Measure and Reduce Lost Transfer Credit

Since June 2019, the Articulation of Credit Transfer project (ACT) has focused on streamlining the information, advising, and administrative processes concerning how credits from one City University of New York (CUNY) institution transfer to another CUNY institution. This work addresses a critical challenge at CUNY, and indeed, across American higher education. When students transfer from one college to another, they frequently are unable to count their previously earned credits toward degree requirements at their new institution, jeopardizing their ability to…
Research Report
December 6, 2021

What Is a Research Core?

A Primer on a Critical Component of the Research Enterprise

As clusters of state-of-the-art instruments and research enablement services, research cores are not only the cornerstone of research activities at university campuses but also critical assets that provide competitive differentiation for their host institutions. However, these research cores are highly expensive for academic institutions to manage. Despite the growing recognition and impact of these research cores, there are few studies that describe the business models for sustaining and funding research cores or their increasing significance to the larger academic community.
Research Report
December 1, 2021

Big Data Infrastructure at the Crossroads

Support Needs and Challenges for Universities

Ithaka S+R’s Research Support Services program explores current trends and support needs in academic research. Our most recent project in this program, “Supporting Big Data Research,” focused specifically on the rapidly emerging use of big data in research across disciplines and fields. As part of our study, we partnered with librarians from more than 20 colleges and universities, who then conducted over 200 interviews with faculty. These interviews provided insights into the research methodologies and support needs of researchers working…
Research Report
October 18, 2021

COVID-19 and the Future of the Annual Meeting

In February 2020, the Biogen conference in Boston, Massachusetts, became one of the first superspreader events in the United States—one now linked to perhaps 300,000 cases of COVID-19. By mid-March, in-person conferences, a staple of scholarly communication and community, came to an abrupt halt. For the many professional societies for whom a conference is a core offering, the necessity of charting a new path for their annual meeting was among the most difficult organizational challenges created by the pandemic. As…
Research Report
September 9, 2021

Library Strategy and Collaboration Across the College Ecosystem

Results from a National Survey of Community College Library Directors

How can the library be best positioned to continue enabling student and institutional success? The Community College Academic and Student Support Ecosystem research initiative seeks to examine how student-facing service departments—including academic libraries—are organized, funded, and staffed at community and technical colleges across the country. In February 2021, we surveyed 321 community college library directors to provide the community with a snapshot of current service provision, leadership perspectives on the impact of COVID-19, and challenges faced in making decisions and…
Research Report
August 30, 2021

Public College and University Consolidations and the Implications for Equity

Across American higher education, institutional consolidations are on the rise. In particular, multiple state systems have proposed or completed mergers of regional universities and/or community colleges with the stated goal of increasing efficiency. The conditions prompting these consolidations have been mounting for years—among them a long-term downward trend in state support for higher education and demographic shifts away from traditional-aged college students, especially in rural areas where numerous public institutions are located. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting recession…
Research Report
August 17, 2021

Stranded Credits: A Matter of Equity

Usually when student debt is discussed and examined, the focus is on federal and private loans; however there are other more insidious forms of student debt that affect thousands of students each year and impact their ability to matriculate, transfer, qualify for scholarships and even qualify for job opportunities. Stranded credits is a phenomenon where students earn academic credits but cannot access them due to an unpaid balance with a previously attended institution that is holding their transcript as collateral.
Research Report
August 3, 2021

Breaking Down Barriers

The Impact of State Authorization Reciprocity on Online Enrollment

State authorization, or the approval by a given state for a college to operate within its jurisdiction, is an important part of the regulatory triad. The triad is the three-pronged oversight of higher education that includes the federal government, accrediting bodies, and state governments. State authorization has become more complicated with the rapid expansion of online education that is blurring state geographic boundaries. Colleges seeking to enroll students from numerous states in online programs must obtain authorization in each of…
Research Report
June 29, 2021

American Talent Initiative 2021

Third Annual Progress Report

The American Talent Initiative (ATI) brings together a coalition of four-year colleges and universities in pursuit of a common goal: enrolling, supporting, and graduating 50,000 additional lower-income students by 2025 at the colleges and universities that consistently graduate at least 70 percent of their students in six years. ATI’s third annual progress report provides a snapshot of progress—and setbacks. It comes at a time when a global pandemic has deepened inequality, and a national uprising against systemic racism has sharpened…
Research Report
June 24, 2021

MAAPS Advising Experiment

Evaluation Findings after Four Years

Acknowledgements This project is generously funded by a US Department of Education First in the World validation grant,[1] with additional support from Arnold Ventures. We thank the project principal investigator, Dr. Timothy Renick of Georgia State University, for inviting Ithaka S+R to serve as its independent evaluator and for being an invaluable thought and project partner. We would like to acknowledge the key role of the University Innovation Alliance (UIA), which inspired the project by…
Research Report
June 22, 2021

What’s the Big Deal?

How Researchers Are Navigating Changes to Journal Access

The dominant mode by which research libraries have provided maximum journal access as cheaply as possible—subscription bundles or “Big Deals”—is giving way to new approaches. This transition is taking place through a combination of negotiations, activism, business modeling, user needs research, and decision support, among other factors. To support these processes, Ithaka S+R partnered with 11 academic libraries to understand researcher perceptions to help inform their ongoing strategic decision making about Big Deal journal subscriptions.
Research Report
April 28, 2021

Moving the Needle on College Student Basic Needs

National Community College Provost Perspectives

For many years, higher education data collection and funding efforts have focused on student success metrics like enrollment, graduation, retention, and course completion rates. At the same time, higher education leaders have become increasingly aware—in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic—of the vast array of challenges that college students face outside of the classroom that prevent them from fully succeeding. To shed light on the challenges and opportunities associated with the collection and prioritization of a broader set of student…
Research Report
March 23, 2021

Teaching with Primary Sources

Looking at the Support Needs of Instructors

Encounters with primary sources—historical or contemporary artifacts that bear direct witness to a specific period or event—are central to the pedagogy of many disciplines, especially in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. Their use in undergraduate instruction aligns with universities’ commitments to experiential and inquiry-based learning and library initiatives focused on media and information literacy. Reflecting the importance of the topic within higher education, “Supporting Teaching with Primary Sources” attracted the largest cohort of any Ithaka S+R program to date.