Eastern Illinois University Uncovers 15 Concrete Projects Using Faculty Survey—Learn How They Did It!

It can be challenging to identify faculty needs in digital scholarship that can be served by the library staff. Bepress created a “faculty needs surveying” tool as a way to uncover these needs. At Eastern Illinois University, Todd Bruns recently piloted our tool to exciting and surprising results.

Pilot survey’s highlights:

  • 35% response rate
  • 100 plus responses
  • 18 departments
  • 15 concrete projects uncovered right off the bat!

These are some of the insights and tips that Todd shared with us to help you get great results as well:

How did you get started with the survey?
My first step for the survey was getting approval from the appropriate parties involved. At EIU, this mainly came from the Provost’s office. Once I talked to them about the value of faculty participation, they were happy to let me have access to two different lists: tenured faculty and non-tenured/adjuncts. The vast majority of responses came from tenured faculty. Our response rate was 35%.

How did you distribute the survey?
My strategy was to send out three emails. In the first email I mentioned that this was the pilot of a nationwide survey to determine changing faculty needs and also mentioned that it was short (10 min). The second email was actually composed by me, but sent out by liaison departments to individual members. The third email was again from me, and I reiterated that the library has a number of tools and services that can support their changing needs and also listed an end-date for the survey.

Do you think the survey is a way to build stronger partnerships with liaison librarians?
Yes! This last year I’ve been working on a new strategy to get liaisons on board. In fact this survey was well-timed to fit into our liaison and faculty strategy. As I mentioned, the second email was actually sent out from our liaison librarians to their individual departments and they were able to tailor the message to projects and needs that they knew spoke to each department.

You had an incredible rate of participation. Any tips?
Admittedly EIU’s “The Keep” is well-known on campus and I’ve gotten to know faculty over the years. However, one thing that was very helpful was having the opportunity to make a presentation at the faculty senate. I also made sure to connect with faculty members in departments that I already had good relationships with.

What did you learn from the survey?
There are a number of faculty on campus that have data management needs, and this was somewhat surprising due to the teaching focus of our campus, and the fact that our Research and Sponsored Programs office actually didn’t believe there was much need for data management support on our campus. We also saw some definite differences between departments on what their digital scholarship needs are – one department would emphasize the importance of dissemination of their work, while another department would consider that unimportant and instead rate organizing their scholarship as a priority.

Can you tell us about the conversations you’ve had since the survey?
Besides opening up dialogues with faculty about managing their data, we were also contacted by our Digital Humanities Committee – they are interested in seeing the survey results. The survey has led to broader discussions about digital scholarship needs, and it has been very beneficial to the library to be positioned at the center of this conversation.

What will you do with survey results?
I’ve been creating what I call “Success & Service Reports” which are specific to individual departments. They highlight the success of the department’s collections and faculty in the repository, and they also identify areas where the repository could be of service to the department. We will be using the survey results to tailor the reports to the faculty’s needs. We’ve also just recently begun exploring using embed.ly to deposit content from our repository into our learning management system on campus. This is an exciting new use of our repository and could be an area that other institutions want to explore.

We’d like to thank Todd for sharing his success with the community, and for his help in fine-tuning this faculty needs assessment resource. If you would like to use the faculty survey at your institution, please contact bepress Outreach at outreach@bepress.com – we would be delighted to share it with you!

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