The American Theological Library Association served as lead sponsor for the religious studies project formed by Ithaka S+R’s Research Support Services Program, Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Religious Studies Scholars.
In 2016 Ithaka S+R examined the changing research methods and practices of academic religious studies scholars in the United States, with the goal of identifying services to better support them. The project was undertaken collaboratively with research teams at 18 academic libraries and ATLA with guidance from an advisory committee.
The report of their findings is now available and be can be read on their website.
The goal of this report is to provide actionable findings for the organizations, institutions, and professionals who support the research process of religious studies. 198 scholars were interviewed during the project and Ithaka S+R sampled 102 of the resulting transcripts towards the analysis for this report.
The report concludes by highlighting key issues and providing recommendations from across the findings that have wider implications for how religious studies research support is conceptualized and prioritized. Religious studies scholars’ ongoing lack of awareness of and engagement with digital research methods, including those associated with the digital humanities, reflects major structural barriers to methodological innovation within the discipline, necessitating intervention at various levels. While religious studies scholars continue to rely on their institutional libraries, particularly for access to secondary materials, their use of the library is placed among many other strategies for finding and accessing information. Supporting religious studies scholars in their capacities as collectors is one entryway for re-thinking how research support can be cohesively defined and delineated.
The American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature also supported the project. Several Institutional members participated, including Asbury Seminary, Columbia University, Concordia Theological Seminary, Emory University, Harvard University, Luther Seminary, Naropa University, Princeton Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, and Yale University.