Objectives: Research consultations are a standard service in academic libraries consuming significant library resources. However, there is a lack of scholarship evaluating this essential service. This project will increase understanding of the impact of research consultations on faculty productivity and will describe the role of consultations in the research process. This project will also document scholarly products resulting from these consultations.
Methods: To better understand consultation impact, the researchers surveyed faculty from five health sciences schools at a large urban, public university who are known users of the consultation service within the past nine months and complete follow-up focus groups with a subset of participants. Survey questions were piloted by other librarians in the same department as well as among users within the university’s health sciences schools. Input from the pilot was incorporated into the survey. The final survey consists of six items, including level of satisfaction with the service, whether the consultation achieved its desired purpose, and any subsequent scholarly products. Finally, the survey asks faculty to comment on the likelihood of their return for future projects and on their referral of others to library consultation services.
Results: The survey was distributed to 129 faculty members, of which 67 (52%) completed. Each health sciences school was represented in the survey with the majority of responses from Medicine and Nursing. Approximately half of respondents had been at the institution for 0-5 years and reported 10% or less of their time dedicated to research. Satisfaction with research consultations was high with 100% reporting that the consultation achieved its desired purpose and 75% reporting high satisfaction with their last librarian consultation. Consultations contributed to the following products: journal articles, scholarly presentations, posters, book chapters, a grant proposal background, and various student research projects. Sixty-three percent of participants planned to either acknowledge the librarian’s assistance or include the librarian as co-author on the product.
Conclusions: These findings enable us to document the ways in which librarians participate in complex research interactions with faculty. Librarians contribute throughout the faculty research process but especially during question generation, background research, the selection of appropriate methods, and manuscript preparation and dissemination. The results of this survey will be combined with a larger program evaluation effort. The combined results will be used to inform program planning and administrative decision-making within the library.