Understanding the needs of scholars in a contemporary publishing environment

Katrina Fenlon, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Maria Bonn, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Megan F. Senseney, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Christopher R. Maden, University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Aaron McCollough, University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Harriett Green, University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

To ensure that widespread and increasing development of library publishing programs, services, and tools is driven by scholarly needs, we must know more about what and how scholars want to publish, why they choose to publish digitally, and how they understand the success of their digital publications.

We report on preliminary results of an ongoing investigation of humanities scholars’ objectives and needs related to library publishing services and platforms.

Our multi-modal study informs the overarching Publishing Without Walls project, a Mellon-funded digital scholarly publishing initiative at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This project aims to build capacity for participation in innovative publishing initiatives by scholars across the digital divide, and for scholars participating in a multi-institutional research consortium. At the same time, the project will develop a library-based scholarly publishing service model, which prioritizes scholar-driven, openly accessible, scalable, and sustainable scholarly communication practices.

To guide this work, we are currently conducting a large-scale survey, along with focus groups and interviews, on how emerging services and tools align with scholars’ publishing needs. Focus groups and interviews will target participants engaged with digital publishing, particularly participants in the Humanities Without Walls (HWW) Global Midwest initiative and scholars from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Preliminary results of our research will speak to scholars’ current publishing practices; how they consume or want to consume research results and publications; their personal, professional, and community objectives for publishing; their perceptions of and requirements for publishing tools and platforms; their perceptions of and requirements for publishing services and support; and their attitudes toward digital publication, generally. Final results of this research will be disseminated in 2017, and will inform development of the service model.