- Availability does not equal accessibility: researchers’ top concern about scholarly communication is that they cannot access all the content they wish to access
- Researchers tend to use tried-and-tested discovery tools, or those which their library specifically trains them to use. Google and other web search engines remain the most-used search tools for work-related information. The main problem with discovery is coming up against an access barrier
- Researchers do not always know how to seek out a freely-available copy of an article that they want and which they have discovered behind a toll barrier
Key concerns within the scholarly communication process: report to the JISC Scholarly Communication Group, March 2008 [Word document]
via Lorcan Dempsey
I find it interesting that the focus of concerns is around delivery, not discovery (perhaps this is how the questions were framed).
I think the academic library faces two challenges:
- Ensure that your researchers can always get from their chosen discovery environment easily to
- Get to your licensed resources
- Get to free copies, if licensed versions aren't available
- Get to purchase options, if free copies aren't available
- Ensure that as many of your resources as possible can actually be discovered
I'm not convinced that we're doing a particularly good job of addressing these fundamental challenges even after years of working on proxies, federated search, link resolvers, and "live in your environment" plugins and external website settings.
It seems to me that librarians were so focused on trying to control the discovery experience, trying to make people discover resources "properly", following established librarian search protocols, that the simple challenges above were not addressed.
I think we need to spend a lot of time with researchers letting them search however they want, and seeing whether they dead-end either by not being able to get to a resource at all, or by landing at a paywall for a resource we license or can get to for free. Fix that first.
And I'm not entirely convinced we have all the tools we need to fix that problem right now.
Then once you have addressed consistent delivery, work on improving discovery. I think discovery is much harder to fix. And to some extent, there should be vendor pushback. I don't care how rich or comprehensive a licensed resource is, if my users can never discover it, then the message to the vendor should be "enable easy ways for my user to discover your resources within their preferred discovery environments, or next year we're not licensing your content".
Lorcan and I had a bit of a back-and-forth about discovery and delivery in 2006.