Navigating Research: OUP’s whitepaper explores how users view and use reference sources

As stated in the summary of OUP’s newly released whitepaper titled Navigating Research, “this study explores users’ and librarians’ perspectives on the role of reference resources in research and teaching in today’s academic institutions. It examines how users seek contextual information and guidance for areas of scholarship as they conduct research, and how reference resources can support their work.”

Key findings include, among others:

  • recognition of ‘reference’ as a specific category is declining and users are not likely to identify ‘reference resources as those belonging to a distinct category
  • research needs of today’s researchers are moving away from basic factual information and terminology (for which free online sources are used)
  • resources offering guidance to a field of study retain appeal as a ‘bridge between introductory materials and specialized research publications”
  • resources offering guidance to a field of study are also used to support work in interdisciplinary fields
  • use of reference sources relies on their visibility and discoverability; this is likely to remain a challenge for publishers, librarians, and researchers

The whitepaper comprises three strands:

  • a review of existing literature
  • qualitative interviews with 16 librarians and 18 users (faculty and students)
  • a survey of 164 librarians

The full whitepaper may be downloaded here.