Positive Perceptions of Access to Online Library Resources Correlates with Quality and Quantity of Scholarly Publications among Finnish Academics

Scott Marsalis

Abstract


A Review of:
Vakkari, Pertti. “Perceived Influence of the Use of Electronic Information Resources on Scholarly Work and Publication Productivity.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 59.4 (Feb. 15, 2008): 602-12.

Objective – To investigate the relationship between academics’ use of library electronic resources and their opinions regarding how these resources have impacted their work, and to investigate the association between this perceived influence and publication productivity during the previous two years.

Design – Two specific questions added to an annual online user-survey questionnaire; additional data mined from survey

Setting – Twenty-two Finnish Universities served by FinELib, the Finnish Electronic Library.

Subjects – Seven hundred and sixty seven academic staff and full-time doctoral students.

Methods – A questionnaire was posted in April 2007 on FinELib’s homepage and advertised on each university library’s main page, and focused on respondents’ experience in the previous two years. Participants selected answers either from a list of category choices, or, when measuring perceptions, by rating agreement with statements along a four-point scale.
Controlled variables measured were the respondents’ academic position, their discipline, membership in a research group, whether their literature use was discipline-specific or interdisciplinary, and their perception of the availability online of the relevant core literature.

The independent variable measured was the scholars’ perception of the impact of the use of electronic library resources on their work. The dependent variable measured was the scholars’ self-reported publications in the two years preceding the survey.

Main Results – Participants reported a positive impact on the efficiency of their work, most strongly in areas of ease of access, with lesser impacts in the range of materials available to them and the ease with which they can keep up-to-date in their field. To a lesser extent, the scholars perceived a positive impact on the quality of their work.

Upon analysis, the study found that access to online library resources improved scholars’ work by the interconnected mechanisms of the ease of access and breadth of resources available positively impacting their ability to keep abreast of new developments and inspiring new ideas.

The study found mixed results between perceived improved access and number of publications. Although representation in national publications was not significantly impacted, there was a positive correlation with the number of international publications. There were interesting differences among disciplines and academic status, with a decreased impact among scholars in the humanities, and greater impact among lower-status or novice academics.

Conclusion – There are positive perceptions of the accessibility of online information and of its impact on the quality of work, and a correlation between these perceptions and the number of international publications, thus validating the investment in providing access to digital information resources to Finnish academics.

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