A qualitative analysis of the information science needs of public health researchers in an academic setting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objectives: The University of Minnesota (UMN) Health Sciences Libraries conducted a needs assessment of public health researchers as part of a multi-institutional study led by Ithaka S+R. The aims of the study were to capture the evolving needs, opportunities, and challenges of public health researchers in the current environment and provide actionable recommendations. This paper reports on the data collected at the UMN site.

Methods: Participants (n=24) were recruited through convenience sampling. One-on-one interviews, held November 2016 to January 2017, were audio-recorded. Qualitative analyses were conducted using NVivo 11 Pro and were based on the principles of grounded theory.

Results: The data revealed that a broad range of skill levels among participants (e.g., literature searching) and areas of misunderstanding (e.g., current publishing landscape, open access options). Overall, data management was an afterthought. Few participants were fully aware of the breadth of librarian knowledge and skill sets, although many did express a desire for further skill development in information science.

Conclusions: Libraries can engage more public health researchers by utilizing targeted and individualized marketing regarding services. We can promote open science by educating researchers on publication realities and enhancing our data visualization skills. Libraries might take an institution-wide leadership role on matters of data management and data policy compliance. Finally, as team science emerges as a research priority, we can offer our networking expertise. These support services may reduce the stresses that public health researchers feel in the current research environment.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-197
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Medical Library Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Scientific research is in a stage of transition. Popular media can be skeptical about the validity of scientific research results [1–4], skepticism that is coupled with rapidly changing technologies that both challenge and advance current scientific methods [5–7]. Perhaps most notably, economic resources for academic research are declining, with the National Science Foundation reporting that university research and development has experienced the longest multiyear decline in funding since 1972 [8].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Medical Library Association. All rights reserved.


Dive into the research topics of 'A qualitative analysis of the information science needs of public health researchers in an academic setting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this