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CATRIONA II Management Survey

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Dennis Nicholson and Martin Smith provide a summary report of selected results from the CATRIONA II survey on the University Management of Electronic Resources.

Background to the Survey

The CATRIONA II project is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) through its Electronic Libraries (eLib) programme. The main objective of the project is to investigate approaches to the creation and management of electronic resources at Scottish universities.

In the first phase of the project, an in-depth survey was conducted into electronic resource creation at six institutions. This ‘Resource Creation’ survey found that high volumes of quality electronic teaching and research material exist within institutions (90% of staff report that they have created such material), but that it is not generally available (only 31% say they have some accessible material). The survey also found that 85% of those staff who were interviewed believed it was important to have access to the electronic resources created at other institutions. It was against this background – confirmed high levels of electronic resource creation and low levels of resource accessibility, coupled with a very clear desire among academic staff for greater resource sharing between institutions – that the CATRIONA II project conducted its second major research survey: the service management survey.

The service management survey questionnaire was sent to representatives at all 13 Scottish universities in February 1998. Prior research had been carried out to identify senior officers at each institution who would be best able to deal with the receipt and initial processing of the questionnaire. The questionnaire included a ‘recommended procedure’ for respondents to follow during the processing and completion of the questionnaire. These recommendations suggested that respondents consider forming a small subgroup of an ‘information-related’ group to consider and discuss the issues involved. It was further suggested that this subgroup then submit a preliminary response to the questionnaire back to a full meeting of the group, in anticipation of the generation of a formal institutional response.

The CATRIONA II research assistant attempted to monitor the progress of the each questionnaire over the four-month period between their initial dispatch and the receipt of the last completed questionnaire. Of the thirteen institutions who received the survey questionnaire, nine provided institutional responses, two provided responses from senior members of staff, one indicated that they felt unable to comment on what was a "developing area", and one institution declined to respond.

Q1: Method

Respondents were offered choices that ranged from describing the issue as a vital issue requiring short-term consideration, through to an option indicating that the issue was of no immediate relevance to the real needs of the university. There was also an option allowing respondents to indicate a belief that universities should not manage services.

Q1: Question

The issue of whether or not universities should manage services aimed at making high quality electronic teaching and research resources created by their staff accessible either on-site or off-site or both, is…?

Q1: Results

Response

1.

A vital issue requiring our careful short-term consideration.

3

2.

A vital issue requiring our careful medium-term consideration.

6

3.

A vital issue requiring our careful long-term consideration.

1

4.

A significant issue requiring further consideration as time allows.

1

5.

A matter of no immediate relevance to the real needs of the university.

0

6.

Something we would only consider doing if other universities started to do it.

0

7.

Easily answered – they shouldn’t.

0

Q1: Summary

Clearly the issue of managing services is recognised as being of very high importance within Scottish universities: with 91% of respondents indicating that it is a vital issue. As far as the timescale for consideration of the issue was concerned, 69% believed it to be an issue that should receive attention in the short or medium term. It is worth noting that options indicating that the service management issue is not important, or that universities should not manage services, were not chosen by any respondents.

Q2.1: Method

Respondents were provided with a list of possible reasons that could be given for managing local services. The list – drawn up after consideration by various project participants – was not intended to be definitive and additional space was provided at the end of the list to allow respondents to proffer additional reasons.

Q2.1: Question

Please indicate whether you agree, disagree or don’t know, if the following reasons are valid reasons for universities, in general, managing local services…

Q2.1: Results

Agree

Disagree

Don’t know

% Agree

1.

A great deal of relatively uncoordinated effort is going into the maintenance of university websites in any case.

11

0

0

100%

2.

Most sites are developing an Intranet in any case.

8

0

3

73%

3.

A service to deliver resources locally would increase the possibilities of cross-fertilisation of research within an institution.

7

2

2

64%

4.

A service to deliver teaching resources would enhance possibilities for home-based and distance learning.

11

0

0

100%

5.

A service would save time and effort by making teaching resources created by one department available to others.

9

0

2

82%

6.

A service would improve dissemination of information throughout the University from both internal and external sources.

10

0

1

91%

7.

Teaching resources are being published on the website in any case in a more or less haphazard fashion. A service management approach would ensure quality control, protection of course material, value assessment for commercial or strategic exploitation and currency control.

11

0

0

100%

8.

Service management would ensure a controlled approach to the protection of University Intellectual Property Rights.

10

0

1

91%

9.

Service management would ensure a controlled approach to safeguarding the University against copyright infringements.

9

0

2

82%

10.

On-line overview of teaching and research output offers greater strategic control.

4

3

4

36%

11.

There are strategic and commercial advantages because creating a local service makes offering an economic service to the wider community easier.

11

0

0

100%

12.

There are possible RAE and TQA advantages.

10

0

1

91%

13.

It would provide improved accessibility of information on staff expertise across the University.

7

1

3

64%

14.

A local service is a logical extension of implementing an information strategy.

10

1

0

91%

Q2.1: Summary

To summarise, the most popular reasons chosen for managing local services were that universities, in general, would potentially benefit from the services by:

  • making better use of effort already going on in website development (100%);
  • enhancing home-based and distance learning possibilities (100%);
  • providing a better means of quality control and protecting course material for teaching resource output (100%); and,
  • facilitating easier implementation of an economic service aimed at a wider community (100%).

Some reasons volunteered in favour of universities, in general, managing local services included:

  • "There may be cost savings for the institution e.g. photocopying costs. However, any efficiency gains will be passed to the students."
  • "Could identify then reduce duplication of effort."
  • "It would assist in the sharing of good practice and the adoption of accepted standards."

Q2.2: Method

Respondents were provided with a list of possible reasons that could be given against managing local services. The list – drawn up after consideration by various project participants – was not intended to be definitive and additional space was provided at the end of the list to allow respondents to proffer further reasons against managing local services.

Q2.2: Question

Please indicate whether you agree, disagree or don’t know, if the following reasons are valid reasons against universities, in general, managing local services…

Q2.2: Results

Agree

Disagree

Don’t know

%
Agree

1.

Even if effort is being put into websites, Intranets and information strategies anyway, service management requires significant extra resources.

4

6

1

36%

2.

Most of the advantages listed above are of minimal importance.

0

10

1

0%

3.

Service management is not a practical proposition where there is devolvement of control to departmental level.

1

9

1

9%

4.

Service management is not necessary - individual departments will make their own decisions about services.

0

9

2

0%

5.

Staff don't have the time to create electronic resources at a level that would make the exercise worthwhile.

2

9

0

18%

6.

The control implied by service management would be an infringement of academic freedom.

1

9

1

9%

7.

There would be too many copyright problems and conflicts with commercial publishers.

1

6

4

9%

Q2.2: Summary

To summarise, the most popular reason cited against managing local services in general, was that:

  • significant extra resources – above that presently being expended – would be required to effectively manage services (36%).

Some reasons (and comments) volunteered against universities, in general, managing local services included:

  • "The resources to establish and maintain such a service would have to come from University funds; the limited value of materials created by one department to another department; a service management approach wouldn't necessarily ensure quality control…would require QA processes."
  • "The power of Faculties and Departments in the University is considerable, and "top-down" central initiatives may be ignored if not appropriate within the local context. The initiative will only work if seen as relevant."
  • "It may be difficult to co-ordinate separate local services if delivery of national? (i.e. from TLTP projects) is required. However, adherence to standards, e.g. Z39.50, would help."
  • "However, the responses given do not mean to imply that these issues are insignificant." [The responding institution disagreed with all of the claimed disadvantages.]

Q2.3: Method

Respondents were asked to choose one of three options (yes/no/don’t know) to specify whether universities, in general, should manage services to deliver teaching and research resources locally.

Q2.3: Question

Taking into account the reasons for and against listed above in questions 2.1 and 2.2, should universities in general, manage services aimed at making high quality electronic resources created by their staff accessible within the University?

Q2.3: Results

Yes

No

Don’t know

No answer

Teaching resources.

9

0

1

1

Research resources.

8

2

0

1

Q2.3: Summary

The results clearly indicate a belief that universities, in general, should manage internal services. It is worth noting that – for teaching resources – no institutions responded that universities should not manage local services.

Q3.1: Method

Respondents were provided with a list of possible reasons that could be given for managing external services. The list – drawn up after consideration by various project participants – was not intended to be definitive and additional space was provided at the end of the list to allow respondents to proffer further reasons for managing external services.

Q3.1: Question

Please indicate whether you agree, disagree or don’t know, if the following reasons are valid reasons for universities, in general, managing external services…

Q3.1: Results

Agree

Disagree

Don’t know

% Agree

1.

CATRIONA II Survey results show that academics want access to research and teaching resources in other UK Universities but currently these are not generally accessible.

7

3

1

64%

2.

Services of this kind offer the possibilities of inter-institutional strategic alliances through sharing teaching resource creation.

9

1

1

82%

3.

Services offer the possibility of commercial advantage through sale of access to resources.

10

0

1

91%

4.

Consultancy/staff expertise databases could be offered to potential customers or to the media.

10

0

1

91%

5.

There is potential for promotional advantage, impressing funding bodies, potential employees and potential students.

11

0

0

100%

6.

Commercially or strategically successful external services could help pay for an internal services.

10

0

1

91%

7.

Commercially successful services would help recoup expected future increases in networking costs.

7

1

3

64%

8.

External services would help improve overall teaching and research through strategic co-operation and cross-fertilisation.

9

0

2

91%

9.

If more research material was available on the Web, the cost to universities of purchasing journals would decrease.

1

5

5

9%

Q3.1: Conclusion

To summarise, the most popular reasons chosen for managing external services were that universities, in general, would potentially benefit from the services by:

  • promoting the institution to a wide range of audiences (100%);
  • providing possible revenue generation through commercial exploitation (91%);
  • raising awareness of staff expertise amongst prospective customers (91%);
  • generating funds to finance an internal service (91%); and,
  • improving the quality of teaching and research through improved co-operation between institutions (91%).

Other reasons (and comments) volunteered in favour of universities, in general, managing external services included:

  • "Facilitation of wider access to higher education."
  • "It is possible that SHEFC may encourage institutions to make their resources more widely available in the aftermath of their consultation paper on Communications and Information Technology. Other universities are likely to do this. This university may need to follow suit to maintain its competitive position."

Q3.2: Method

Respondents were provided with a list of possible reasons that could be given against managing external services. The list – drawn up after consideration by various project participants – was not intended to be definitive and additional space was provided at the end of the list to allow respondents to proffer further reasons against managing external services.

Q3.2: Question

Please indicate whether you agree, disagree or don’t know, if the following reasons are valid reasons against universities, in general, managing external services…

Q3.2: Results

Agree

Disagree

Don’t know

%
Agree

1.

The additional effort entailed in ensuring high profile, high quality services would require significant investment with no guarantee of substantial return.

4

3

4

36%

2.

External services would entail additional problematic access control problems.

6

5

0

55%

3.

Copyright disputes are more likely if services are offered beyond local institutions.

6

4

1

55%

4.

Rival institutions could exploit UK research or teaching ideas.

5

4

2

45%

5.

Training and promotion would be a major problem.

1

7

3

9%

6.

Inter-service integration would be a major difficulty.

1

3

7

9%

Q3.2: Conclusion

To summarise, the most popular reasons cited against managing external services in general, were that:

  • services delivered externally would pose additional access control problems (55%); and,
  • copyright issues would be more problematic with externally delivered services (55%).
  • Some reasons (and comments) volunteered against universities, in general, managing external services included:
  • "Competition between universities could well make external services difficult to operate."
  • "General teaching resources are not high quality; resources are oriented towards specific groups; competing priorities; lecturers become ''access facilitators" - potentially changes the structure of the University towards an Open University model."
  • "Unless properly costed could become a drain on core resources. If all do it, potential for variations in practice, with associated difficulty of locating resources."
  • "These are all problems. They do not provide reasons for not managing services."

Q3.3: Method

Respondents were asked to choose one of three options (yes/no/don’t know) to specify whether universities, in general, should manage services to deliver teaching and research resources externally. This was followed up by a question asking respondents to give a written (open) answer on the issue of possible benefits to their institution from other universities managing external services.

Q3.3a: Question

Taking into account the reasons for and against listed above [questions 3.1 and 3.2], should universities, in general, manage services aimed at making high quality electronic resources created by their staff accessible outwith the University?

Q3.3a: Results

Yes

No

Don’t know

No answer

Teaching resources.

8

2

0

1

Research resources.

7

3

0

1

Q3.3b: Question

Please indicate whether or not you feel it would be beneficial to your University if other universities offered such a service and please say why:

Q3.3b: Results

Yes

No

Don’t know

No answer

Beneficial to own university.

8

2

0

1

Q3.3: Summary

The results clearly indicate a belief that universities, in general, should manage external services. It is worth noting that the levels found in favour of managing external services (73% for teaching and 64% for research) were lower than those for managing internal services (82% for teaching and 73% for research).

When considering whether it would benefit their institution if other universities offered external services, 73% of institutions responded that it would, while 18% indicated that it would not.

Q4: Method

The twelve subsections of this question asked respondents to indicate the position at their institution, regarding issues identified by the project as being important in providing services to manage electronic resources. In indicating the current position, respondents were asked to choose between four options: in place, planned, worth considering and not worth considering. Supplementary questions were included at the end of each subsection, asking about which university groups are/will be/should be/ might be involved in managing each issue raised.

The twelve issues raised in the subsections of question 4 were:

  • Incentives to encourage resource creation;
  • Resource creation guidelines;
  • Quality and value assessment;
  • Distributed or centralised service;
  • Resource description and index creation;
  • Access control;
  • Currency of information;
  • Help and training services;
  • Archiving;
  • Service administration;
  • Service promotion, income generation and funding; and,
  • Cross-service integration.

Q4.1: Question: Incentives to encourage resource creation

Is University encouragement of electronic resource creation through…?

Q4.1: Results

In

place

Planned

Worth

considering

Not Worth

considering

No answer

1.

Career recognition incentives.

1

1

7

1

1

2.

Internal funding incentives.

1

2

8

0

0

3.

External funding bid support.

6

0

4

0

1

4.

Free time for development.

2

2

7

0

0

5.

Training and support services.

7

2

2

0

0

6.

Financial rewards.

2

0

6

3

0

7.

Enhanced rewards for externally valuable resource creation.

0

1

7

2

1

Q4.2: Question: Resource creation guidelines

Service provision requires that the service provider (the university) offer potential authors guidelines and advice on a range of issues relating to resource creation.

Are University guidelines on…?

Q4.2: Results

In

place

Planned

Worth

considering

Not Worth

considering

No answer

1.

The University's position on Intellectual Property Rights in respect of works created by staff as part of their duties.

8

2

1

0

0

2.

Dealing with external publishers in respect of copyright on electronic versions of works.

3

3

4

1

0

3.

The best electronic formats to use when producing works.

1

5

5

0

0

4.

On copyright and other considerations when producing joint works with other institutions.

1

2

8

0

0

5.

Structure, quality control, currency control, navigational aids, general content in respect of electronic resources created for the service.

2

3

5

1

0

Q4.3: Question: Quality and value assessment

Service provision implies objective and practical mechanisms to ensure and assess resource quality and access local value, and also commercial, promotional and strategic value for other institutions

Are procedures to…?

Q4.3: Results

In

place

Planned

Worth

considering

Not Worth

considering

No answer

1.

Assess resource quality.

2

3

6

0

0

2.

Assess local value.

1

4

6

0

0

3.

Assess commercial, promotional and strategic value beyond the local institution.

1

3

7

0

0

Q4.4: Question: Distributed or centralised service

One service design issue would be whether or not the service would be based on a centralised model run by a central service such as the Library or the Computer Centre, or a distributed model with resources stored and catalogued on distributed servers. The devolved nature of many institutions may make a distributed service more attractive, but complicates the nature of many of the issues, such as the creation of a single catalogue for the service, ensuring secure backup and archiving mechanisms, and overall service design.

At your institution is...?

Q4.4: Results

In

place

Planned

Worth

considering

Not Worth

considering

No answer

1.

A centralised service.

1

0

7

0

3

2.

distributed service.

3

1

2

3

2

Q4.5: Question: Resource description and index creation

There are a number of issues here. Who will ensure accurate and efficient retrieval through the search interface by ensuring that resources are adequately catalogued, and all catalogued to the same standard? If this is done at departmental level, who will advise on and monitor standards and how will the service ensure that it is possible to search the whole site in a single operation?

At your institution is cataloguing of locally created electronic resources as...?

Q4.5: Results

In

place

Planned

Worth

considering

Not Worth

considering

No answer

1.

A centralised activity.

0

2

8

1

0

2.

A distributed activity.

1

0

3

5

2

Q4.6: Question: Access control

If a service is to be offered only internally, access control is required to ensure that there is no external access to valuable resources. If an external service is to be offered also, access control is required to ensure that only those external users with whom the service has a commercial or strategic agreement have access. Setting up and maintaining secure access control mechanisms is therefore crucial if any type of service is to be offered.

At your institution...?

Q4.6: Results

In

place

Planned

Worth

considering

Not Worth

considering

No answer

1.

Are access control mechanisms.

8

1

2

0

0

Q4.7: Question: Currency of information

It is important that mechanisms are implemented to ensure the currency of the information offered by the service. Issues here are: currency of the resources themselves, currency of cataloguing information, currency of locational information (URL), etc. …

At your institution, are mechanisms to...?

Q4.8: Results

In

place

Planned

Worth

considering

Not Worth

considering

No answer

1.

Monitor resource content currency.

3

1

7

0

0

2.

Monitor cataloguing information currency.

1

2

8

0

0

3.

Monitor locational information currency.

1

1

9

0

0

Q4.8: Question: Help and training services

Any service should offer on-line help and a service to train both users and authors. If an external service is offered additional problems may arise in respect of user training arise.

At your institution, are website wide on-line help and training efforts for...?

Q4.8: Results

In

place

Planned

Worth

considering

Not Worth

considering

No answer

1.

Local users.

8

2

1

0

0

2.

External users.

1

1

5

1

3

Q4.9: Question: Archiving

Arguably, offering a service will at some point entail implementing policies and mechanisms for archiving valuable but non-current material. Who will decide to archive, discard or keep on-line? How will archiving be dealt with technologically? Which formats will be used? How will archived material be accessed when required? How can the service ensure that archived material will not become inaccessible as access technologies go out of date? Is there a role for national bodies such as the National Library for Scotland?

At your institution...?

Q4.9: Results

In

place

Planned

Worth

considering

Not Worth

considering

No answer

1.

Are archiving mechanisms.

0

1

10

0

0

Q4.10: Question: Service administration

A service must be managed by some group within the institution. In different institutions this might be the Library, the Computer Centre, an Information Services department entailing both, or some other body. A mix of technological and information skills would be required.

At your institution...?

Q4.10: Results

In

place

Planned

Worth

considering

Not Worth

considering

No answer

1.

Is management of the website as a service.

8

2

1

0

0

Q4.11: Question: Service promotion, income generation and funding

If a service is made available to other universities the associated areas of service promotion, income generation and funding are of key importance

At your institution...?

Q4.11: Results

In

place

Planned

Worth

considering

Not Worth

considering

No answer

1.

Are services in the above associated areas.

2

0

9

0

0

Q4.12: Question: Cross-service integration

If a service is to be offered externally for strategic or commercial reasons, issues related to integration with services elsewhere become important. A service which integrates readily with other widely available services will be important. For example, if the service catalogue was accessible via the library Z39.50 standard then users of the proposed cross-Scotland CAIRNS service would be able to search it in conjunction with all the library catalogues in Scotland - making users more likely to use the service and to find resources they wished to access. Another issue might be co-operation with other institutions intending to offer a service so that similar service designs could be agreed and usability of all services therefore enhanced.

At your institution...?

Q4.12: Results

In

place

Planned

Worth

considering

Not Worth

considering

No answer

1.

Are discussions on the institution-wide implications of projects such as CAIRNS and associated library standards such as Z39.50.

3

2

6

0

0

Q4: Summary

Despite the overall low levels of ‘in place’ responses, there was a clear indication that the vast majority of the key service elements identified by the project were worthy of consideration by institutions. Indeed, the only exception to this trend can be found in question 4.5; where more institutions responded that the issue ofcataloguing of locally created electronic resources as a distributed activity was not worth considering, than responded that such an activity was in place, planned or worth considering. It is worth noting that 73% of responding institutions are currently managing the university website as a service (question 4.11).

Q5: Method

Respondents were offered four choices to best describe the current position at their university regarding managing:

  • Teaching resources within the university;
  • Research resources outwith the university;
  • Teaching resources within the university; and,
  • Research resources outwith the university.
  • The four choices offered to describe the current position were in place, planned, worth considering and not worth considering.
  • The final survey question asked respondents to choose between a central role, an advisory role and no part, to show what role the university library should play in managing services.

Q5a: Question

Please indicate the position at your university with regard to the following:

Is a university service to deliver locally created…?

Q5a: Results

In

place

Planned

Worth

considering

Not Worth

considering

No answer

1.

Teaching resources within the university.

2

6

3

0

0

2.

Research resources within the university.

1

2

8

0

0

3.

Teaching resources outwith the university.

1

2

7

1

0

4.

Research resources outwith the university.

0

0

9

2

0

Q5b: Question

At your institution, what is the intended role of the university library regarding managing services to deliver electronic resources?

Q5b: Results

A central role

An advisory role

No
part

No
answer

1.

The role of the university library.

6

3

0

2

Q5: Summary

The results of question 5 show that there is very strong interest in managing services – especially internal services – at respondents’ institutions. Despite the strong interest, however, very few of the universities actually have services in place (18% internal teaching, 9% internal research, 9% external teaching and 0% external research).

Of those institutions answering question 5b, two-thirds indicated that it was intended that the university library should have a central role in managing services to deliver electronic resources.

The full survey results, with accompanying analysis and reference to other project research and activities, will be included in the CATRIONA II final report, to be published later this year.
Available from: http://catriona2.lib.strath.ac.uk/catriona/

Author Details

Dennis Nicholson
Catriona II Project Manager
Head of Library Systems
Strathclyde University Library
101 St. James Road
GLASGOW, G4 0NS
Tel: 0141 5484529
Fax: 0141 5523304
Email: d.m.nicholson@strath.ac.uk
URL: http://catriona2.lib.strath.ac.uk/catriona/

Martin Smith
CATRIONA II Research Assistant
Research Assistant
Strathclyde University Library
101 St. James Road
GLASGOW, G4 0NS
Tel: 0141 5484618
Fax: 0141 5523304
Email: marty@strath.ac.uk
URL: http://catriona2.lib.strath.ac.uk/catriona/
Date published: 
19 December 1998

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How to cite this article

Dennis Nicholson, Martin Smith. "CATRIONA II Management Survey". December 1998, Ariadne Issue 18 http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue18/catriona/


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