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This project seeks to understand how the current and evolving research practices and workflows of chemists relate to available support services and where additional information services are needed to fully support academic chemists.

Research Support Services for Scholars: Chemistry

This project seeks to understand how the current and evolving research practices and workflows of chemists relate to available support services and where additional information services are needed to fully support academic chemists.


The continuing development of new tools and services has enabled academic chemists to reshape their methods for sharing ideas, performing research independently and in collaboration, and communicating research findings and supporting data. Scholars across subfields benefit from access to a rich variety of digital resources, including databases of journal literature, patents, structure, reactions, and factual information about chemical substances that enable them to perform their research more efficiently. 

New means of collaboration and information-sharing offer the opportunity for scholars to work together in ways that were historically impractical. In some cases, these new possibilities have reduced scholar’s reliance on many of the traditional service providers that historically supported their work. In other cases, new services are needed to support more data-intensive research methods and new workflows. 

In this project, Ithaka S+R will undertake an in-depth investigation of how the practices and workflows of academic chemists are evolving, with the goal of identifying opportunities for further support to be provided to these scholars either by network-level resources (provided by a scholarly society, a publisher, or other enterprise), or by service providers on their local campus (such as the academic library, computing centre, etc). 

This investigation will assess faculty attitudes and practices and test resulting hypotheses about service opportunities through interviews and a broad survey of chemists. Analysis of these data will provide broad insight into the changing practices of chemists. Specific recommendations for services that would enable chemists to work more efficiently and effectively will be made. 

An advisory board of experienced academic chemists and information service providers in the field of chemistry will provide guidance throughout the project. 


  • Develop a detailed understanding of how scholars create, obtain, and use information throughout the research process, including recent and expected changes.
  • Develop a detailed understanding of research methodologies currently in place, and recent and expected changes.
  • Assess existing information services provided by libraries, computing centers, data archives, scholarly societies, publishers, and others, with the goal of understanding which of these are of greatest value to scholars.
  • Assess the value of emerging support models with the goal of identifying information services that are not currently provided that would best facilitate research.
  • Recommend new information services and support that would be valued by chemists. 

Anticipated Outputs and Outcomes

  • A website sharing findings and project updates, engaging the academic community throughout the research process.
  • Interim reports detailing findings of the preliminary phases of the project, including service provider interviews, scholar interviews, survey results, and a literature review.
  • A final report documenting the research process, its findings, and recommendations for service providers.
  • Webinars and conference presentations on study findings.
  • A symposium to present research findings in parallel with significant new initiatives,  to support the use of technology for chemistry research.
  • Recommendations for key service providers such as the academic library based on findings across discipline

Project Staff

Project Manager 

 Roger Schonfeld, Director of Research, Ithaka S+R, 01-212-500-2338, 

Project Team

Jennifer Rutner, Senior Analyst, Ithaka S+R, 01-212-500-2369,

Documents & Multimedia

Start date
31 August 2011
End date
31 December 2012
Funding programme
Digital infrastructure: Information and library infrastructure programme
Information and library infrastructure: Emerging opportunities
Project website
Lead institutions

Ithaka S+R