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Publications

Research Report
August 30, 2022

Borrowing During a Time of Crisis

Examining Institutional Debt During the Great Recession and COVID-19

Although a great deal of attention is paid to student debt, colleges and universities have increased their institutional debt substantially over the past several decades. Institutional borrowing is an important tool colleges can use to meet strategic goals. However, when unchecked or done irresponsibly, institutional debts can undercut a college’s ability to adequately serve students. Ithaka S+R conducted a mixed methods study, with the generous support of the TIAA Institute, to better understand how institutional borrowing decisions are made during…
Research Report
August 22, 2022

A*CENSUS II All Archivists Survey Report

Five thousand, six hundred and ninety-nine archivists and memory workers across the United States took the time to share their experiences within the archives profession by completing the A*CENSUS II All Archivists Survey. The All Archivists Survey, fielded 17 years after the original A*CENSUS collected foundational data for the field, provides a measure of how far the field has come in nearly two decades as well as introduces new or expanded areas of exploration, including sections on diversity, equity, inclusion,…
Issue Brief
August 18, 2022

Post-Baccalaureate Bridge Programs

An Underutilized Tool for Strengthening Faculty Diversity

Over the last 50 years, the US has experienced significant shifts in its racial and ethnic makeup, making it a much more racially diverse country than it was a half century ago. The racial and ethnic composition of the higher education system has shifted too. In spite of this progress, various forms of racial bias, socioeconomic inequality, and academic gatekeeping continue to limit access of students from underrepresented minority (URM) and low-income backgrounds to higher education’s resources and potential benefits.
Research Report
August 9, 2022

Leveraging Data Communities to Advance Open Science

Findings from an Incubation Workshop Series

Several recent studies have indicated that large numbers of researchers in many STEM fields now accept the value of openly sharing research data. Yet, the actual practice of sharing data—especially in forms that comply with FAIR principles—remains a challenge for many researchers to integrate into their workflows and prioritize among the demands on their time. However, sustained funding from federal agencies in the United States and important initiatives in other countries are creating a growing infrastructure for open sharing of…
Research Report
July 19, 2022

The Effectiveness and Durability of Digital Preservation and Curation Systems

In August 2020, with funding from the Institute of Library and Museum Services (IMLS), Ithaka S+R launched an 18-month research project to examine and assess the sustainability of these third-party digital preservation systems. In addition to a broad examination of the landscape, we more closely studied eight systems: APTrust, Archivematica, Arkivum, Islandora, LIBNOVA, MetaArchive, Samvera and Preservica. Specifically, we assessed what works well and the challenges and risk factors these systems face in their ability to continue to successfully serve…
Research Report
July 14, 2022

Ithaka S+R US Faculty Survey 2021

The Ithaka S+R US Faculty Survey has tracked the changing research, teaching, and publishing practices of faculty members within higher education triennially since early digital transformation at the turn of the century. This project has aimed to provide actionable findings to help colleges and universities, among other relevant stakeholders such as academic libraries, learned societies, and scholarly publishers, make evidence-based decisions for their planning and strategy. Against the backdrop of the global pandemic and its numerous impacts to many different…
Issue Brief
July 7, 2022

Lost and Found: State and Institutional Actions to Resolve Stranded Credits

This brief provides a roadmap for stakeholders interested in the underlying practices that create stranded credits and what can be done to improve them. To begin, we provide specific definitions of the terms and practices implicated in the creation of stranded credits. While researchers and policy leaders have increased their attention on the problem of stranded credits, this brief lays out in detail how they are created, why they matter, and what can be done to better balance the interests…
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…
Issue Brief
May 16, 2022

Can Evidence-Based Teaching Techniques Address the Education Debt that Students of Color Are Owed?

As colleges and universities become more diverse, higher education practitioners are questioning how they can create an equitable campus that supports students of color who often have distinct needs and challenges.[1] Evidence-based teaching strategies (EBTs) have become increasingly popular among these practitioners, as the practices have been linked to positive academic outcomes (such as higher grades and better retention) and should, theoretically, benefit all students regardless of their background. For instance, cultivating a sense of belonging in classrooms…
Issue Brief
April 28, 2022

Supporting Low-Income Students with SNAP

Every year a subset of postsecondary students goes hungry and lacks stable shelter. Recent research has helped raise national awareness of basic needs insecurity on college campuses across the US. States and institutions of higher education have, until recently, been approaching the problem of student food insecurity in separate, sometimes contradictory ways. While some institutions have developed wrap-around assistance programs for low-income students that have improved retention and completion rates, the students with the most needs often attend institutions with…
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…
Issue Brief
November 9, 2021

No “One Size Fits All” Impact of Doubling Pell Grants

Understanding the Impact of Changing the Maximum Pell Grant on Low- and Middle-Income Students

As policy makers consider revisions to the Higher Education Act (HEA), understanding the impact of increasing the size of Pell grants is important if it is to have the intended impact of improving educational outcomes for lower income students across the various types of colleges and universities. Proposals to increase the Pell grant have been put forward by the Education Trust, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Urban Institute, the Biden administration, and many others. House Republicans have…