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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.
Research Report
March 17, 2021

National Movements for Racial Justice and Academic Library Leadership

Results from the Ithaka S+R US Library Survey 2020

Academic librarians, like so many others in the higher education and library sectors, have discussed equity, diversity, and inclusion for many years. A number of prominent initiatives have worked to address these issues across the profession and within individual institutions. Yet, libraries have struggled to make progress on these stated values, especially in meeting their goals of employee diversification. The organizing led by Black Lives Matter activists in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd sparked an increase in demands…
Research Report
March 3, 2021

Student Focused

Fostering Cross-Unit Collaboration to Meet the Changing Needs of Community College Students

Ensuring that community college students have access to academic and student support services requires more than simply understanding students’ needs—it also requires relating those needs to actionable service models and organizational strategies. Community college students navigate ecosystems of services provided and supported by academic affairs departments, student affairs departments, libraries, and faculty. How can these ecosystems best be organized and developed to adapt to changing student needs—particularly amidst the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic?…
Research Report
December 9, 2020

Academic Library Strategy and Budgeting During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Results from the Ithaka S+R US Library Survey 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ithaka S+R surveyed library directors nationally to examine the strategic changes libraries have made to continue operating. A total of 638 library directors responded to questions about library leadership and decision making, COVID-19 management, budget allocations and cuts, collections acquisitions, and personnel changes. The questionnaire also focused on racial justice in light of recent protests including the Black Lives Matter movement and the related increased focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion in higher education.
Research Report
December 1, 2020

The Senior Research Officer

Experience, Role, Organizational Structure, Strategic Directions, and Challenges

The research enterprise continues to grow more complex, competitive, interdisciplinary, and interinstitutional. Although academic research often is conducted in a distributed and grassroots manner, the senior research officer (SRO) plays an increasingly central and unifying role in stewarding research activities and shaping institutional policies and strategies. The SRO—who often holds the title of vice president, vice provost, or vice chancellor for research—typically holds responsibilities including overseeing external funding, institutional research safety and compliance, core research facilities, and research ethics and…
Research Report
November 18, 2020

Research Data Services in US Higher Education

As data-driven research methods proliferate and become more sophisticated across disciplines, supporting researchers who work with data is increasingly a top priority for academic institutions. However, research data services—support offerings which enable and improve data research—are currently provided in an ad hoc manner by a variety of campus units, including libraries, academic departments and institutes, labs, and IT or research computing units. And the provision of research data services varies significantly from campus to campus. For data-driven research to thrive,…
Research Report
November 16, 2020

Comparing Public Institution-Level Data on Students’ Family Income and Financial Aid

In a recent research report titled “Better Than We Thought,” our team at Ithaka S+R compared Integrated Postsecondary Education System (IPEDS) data on the parental income distribution of entering college students with two other public sources of socioeconomic information on that population. In the report, we first checked the consistency of the income distributions reported by IPEDS with a more comprehensive dataset of tax records collected by researchers Opportunity Insights. Finding that, at the level of aggregate groups of institutions…
Research Report
November 12, 2020

Ithaka S+R Art Museum Director Survey 2020

Art museums serve a unique social role in that they operate between the public sphere, the academy, the art market, and the philanthropic sector. They are invaluable resources for scholars and also serve school children, adults, seniors while engaging broadly in the cultural life of their cities. Beyond these roles, they also have the responsibility to maintain and care for a collection of objects for future generations in perpetuity. The Ithaka S+R Art Museum Director Survey 2020 examines strategy and…
Research Report
November 10, 2020

Structuring Collaborations

The Opportunities and Challenges of Building Relationships Between Academic Museums and Libraries

In 2019 Ithaka S+R received funding from the Mellon Foundation to study the structural relationships between academic museums and libraries. Ithaka S+R conducted interviews with museum and library directors, and in some cases other senior staff, at thirty universities. Based on these interviews, three institutions were selected for short case studies as examples of effective collaborations: University of Iowa, the Atlanta University Center, and Princeton University.
Research Report
October 26, 2020

The Impacts of COVID-19 on the Research Enterprise

A Landscape Review

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated disruptions have had a major impact on the US academic research enterprise. This report provides a landscape review of what is known about these impacts, from March through mid-October 2020, with an aim of identifying gaps that should be addressed. Our focus is on externally funded research, and therefore we emphasize STEM fields almost exclusively. As a result, we also focus on the largest research universities, which conduct an outsized share of this research and…
Research Report
October 22, 2020

Student and Faculty Experiences with Emergency Remote Learning in Spring 2020

The emergency shift to remote learning that took place during the spring 2020 term in response to the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented disruptions for students and faculty across colleges and universities, nationwide and globally. As online and hybrid models of learning become prolonged solutions for institutions seeking to contend with the realities of the pandemic and continued uncertainty, the field can gain valuable and actionable insights from the lived experiences of students and faculty at the height of the crisis.
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Research Report
October 21, 2020

Academic Health Sciences Libraries

Structural Models and Perspectives

Over the past twenty years, the place of the academic health sciences library (AHSL) within the university has changed markedly. These institutions include libraries that may support schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and public health. Once, they may have been established as separate entities, serving a single school or campus, but many are now consolidated under a larger university library. Have these consolidations and mergers improved the services offered or impacted cost or service quality? What new…
Research Report
October 13, 2020

How to Support and Lead the Urgent Transition to Quality Online Learning in Intro Math

A Resource Guide

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shelter-in-place orders enforced throughout the country prompted a rush to emergency remote learning in spring 2020. As institutions enter the next phase of planning with a substantial share of their courses expected to be delivered in hybrid or fully online formats, there is an urgent need to move emergency remote instruction toward more sustainable and intentional models that incorporate evidence-based standards and practices for online learning. It is imperative that higher education institutions capitalize on…
Research Report
October 5, 2020

Solving Stranded Credits

Assessing the Scope and Effects of Transcript Withholding on Students, States, and Institutions

Attention to the burden of U.S. educational debt, now at $1.7 trillion, has grown in recent years. For too many former postsecondary students—especially Black students—debt they took on to improve their lives and career prospects has instead become a financial hindrance, delaying or undermining their efforts to buy homes, build savings, or provide for their families. The debt burden is especially severe for those who never completed their postsecondary program and therefore did not receive the credentials that might have…
Research Report
September 30, 2020

Measuring the Whole Student

Landscape Review of Traditional and Holistic Approaches to Community College Student Success

As colleges and universities work to enhance student success, they frequently use traditional outcome-based metrics—such as graduation rates, year-to-year retention, and post-graduation employment—to define that “success.” These measurements, which throughout this report we refer to as traditional metrics, are often prioritized across higher education given their impact on and consequences toward institutional decision-making, benchmarking, and most importantly, funding. While these quantitative metrics can provide a useful—albeit limited—view into student experiences inside and outside of the classroom, they often focus on…
Research Report
September 29, 2020

Measuring a Liberal Education and its Relationship with Labor Market Outcomes

An Exploratory Analysis

The liberal arts and sciences has been a prominent feature of the United States higher education system for centuries, yet it has faced waves of public skepticism since the 1930s. Today, the value of a liberal education is constantly disputed, and colleges and universities face increasing pressure to justify their use of its practices on their campuses. To better understand the value and benefits of the liberal arts and sciences, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has funded a series of…
Research Report
September 9, 2020

Supporting Research in Languages and Literature

Ithaka S+R’s Research Support Services program investigates how the research support needs of scholars vary by discipline. From 2018 to early 2020, Ithaka S+R examined the changing research methods and practices of language and literature scholars in the United States with the goal of identifying services to better support them. The goal of this report is to provide actionable findings for the organizations, institutions, and professionals who support the research processes of language and literature scholars.