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  • 1. Learned Publishing, 25: 279–291doi:10.1087/20120407Article and book reading patterns of scholars: findings for publishersCarol Tenopir, Rachel Volentine, and Donald W. KingLEARNED PUBLISHING VOL. 25 NO. 4 OCTOBER 2012IntroductionPrevious studies of the scholarly articlereading patterns of academics showthat there are differences in some read-ing behaviors depending on personalcharacteristics of readers (e.g. age, subjectdiscipline, or work responsibilities) or oncharacteristics of the instances of reading(e.g. purpose of reading).1Scholarly bookreading, however, has been less often stud-ied. Knowing more about these differencesand reading patterns should help publishersand librarians design more effective bookand journal systems and services now andinto the future.This paper examines differences in articleand book reading patterns based on personalcharacteristics of academic staff (facultymembers) in the United Kingdom. Sixhigher learning institutions participated inthe 2011 survey, which was funded by JISCCollections and led by the University of Ten-nessee. The survey builds on reading surveysconducted by Carol Tenopir and Donald W.King in the US since 19772 and in Australiaand Finland in 2005 and 2006.3 The fullreport is available at questions from the study thatare explored in this article include:ț Do academics in different subject disci-plines read differing numbers of articlesand books?ț Do younger academics read a differentnumber of articles and books than theirolder counterparts?ț Do reading patterns, such as source of ar-ticle or book, time spent per reading, orformat of article or book, differ by demo-graphic characteristics of readers?ț Do academics who spend more time on re-search or teaching differ in their reading?ț Do high achievers, i.e. academics whopublish more on average or who have wonArticle and book reading patterns of scholars: findings for publishers 279L E A R N E D P U B L I S H I N G V O L . 2 5 N O . 4 O C T O B E R 2 0 1 2Article and bookreading patterns ofscholars: findingsfor publishersCarol TENOPIR, Rachel VOLENTINE,and Donald W. KINGUniversity of TennesseeABSTRACT. Surveys of academic staff in sixuniversities in the UK provide insights for publishersinto scholarly article and book reading patterns ofacademics and differences based on personalcharacteristics of readers. These surveys were partof the 2011 UK Scholarly Reading and the Value ofthe Library Study funded by JISC Collections andbased on studies conducted by Tenopir and Kingsince 1977. Scholarly articles, especially thoseobtained from the library’s e-journal collections, area vital part of academic work. Reading patterns ofbooks are quite different than articles; books mostoften come from personal print collections. Bookreadings are still important for research andteaching, however, especially for humanists.Academics come into contact with multiple sourcesof information every day and therefore, convenienceand easy access are important factors. Knowingmore about academic reading patterns helpspublishers and librarians design more effectivejournal systems and services now and into thefuture.Part of a study done for JISC Collections, 2012. A fullreport can be found at can be found at© Carol Tenopir, Rachel Volentine, and Donald W. King 2012Rachel VolentineDonald W. KingCarol Tenopir
  • 2. awards for teaching or research in the lasttwo years, read more articles and booksthan others?ț Do frequent users or creators of socialmedia read or publish less in traditionalscholarly resources such as journals orbook?Presented here are ten lessons for publishersbased on the answers to these questions andother survey findings.Previous studiesTenopir and King2 and King and Tenopir4summarize reading patterns of scienceand non-science academic staff membersthrough the 1990s. These two sources pro-vide extensive literature reviews and serveas background for the data presented in thisreport. Tenopir et al.1 focus on factors influ-encing reading patterns of academics acrosssubject disciplines in the US. Factors thatinfluence reading patterns include subjectdiscipline, work responsibilities, productivityof faculty, age of faculty members, and thepurpose of reading. Other multi-universitystudies focus on how academics use elec-tronic journals, online resources, andlibraries.5 Talja and Maula6 examine theeffects of subject discipline on search pat-terns. Other studies demonstrate thatdifferent disciplines have varying availabilityof electronic sources7,8 and show that staffmembers in the sciences prefer and readmore electronic journal articles than inhumanities or social science disciplines.9 Arecent Research Information Network(RIN) study demonstrates that across the sixdisciplines of chemistry, environmental sci-ences, economics, life sciences, physics, andhistory, academic staff members in life sci-ences are the most likely and staff membersin history are the least likely to use e-jour-nals on a daily basis.10 The RIN study alsofound thatinterviewees from all disciplines claimedthat journal literature formed ‘the bulk’ or‘the main body’ of literature consulted, forthe science disciplines, journals were saidto form around 95% (100% in some cases)of this – with ‘virtually all of it’ available(and used) electronically.11Recent studies have examined the role ofe-books in academia. A report by CIBER12found that nearly two-thirds of teaching staffand students have used an e-book to supporttheir work or study or for leisure purposes,and more than half of users said the laste-book they used was provided by their uni-versity library. Previous studies concentrateon either articles or books and typically ongeneral behaviors, rather than details ofscholarly article and book reading. Our studytakes an in-depth look at academic staffreading patterns of both articles and books.Methodology and demographics ofrespondentsAs with previous studies by Tenopir andKing, this study asked some general anddemographic questions, and then focused onthe last instance of scholarly article andbook reading. The respondents answer manyspecific questions about the last reading,including source, time spent, purpose, andvalue of the reading. This provides us with asample of readings, in addition to a sample ofreaders.In spring 2011, an email invitation withan embedded link to the survey instrumentwas sent to all academic staff at six UKresearch institutions. Of the approximately12,600 invitations distributed, 2,117 respon-dents answered at least one question, for anoverall response rate of 16.8%. Since respon-dents were allowed to leave the survey atany time, skip questions, or were timed outautomatically if they began the question-naire and did not complete it, most of thequestions have a lower number of responsesthan the total of 2,117 who answered atleast one question.Academic staff members at the six UKinstitutions spend the largest portion of theirwork time on research and writing activities.Half of the respondents spend almost half(45%) of work time on research and writing.Teaching and administrative activities makeup the other large sections of respondents’work time, 23% and 16%, respectively.Of the 1,102 respondents who chose togive their academic discipline, about a thirdare either from the life or physical sciencefields. Humanities, social sciences, and med-280 Carol Tenopir, Rachel Volentine, and Donald W. KingL E A R N E D P U B L I S H I N G V O L . 2 5 N O . 4 O C T O B E R 2 0 1 22,117respondentsanswered atleast onequestion
  • 3. ical science each account for approximately10% and the rest of the respondents arefrom a variety of other academic disciplines.For analysis we collapsed the disciplines intosix categories based on similarities in theirfields, and redistributed the ‘other’ disci-plines into a corresponding category. Finearts were combined with humanities; law,psychology, business, and education werecombined with social sciences. The remain-ing ‘other’ disciplines are interdisciplinaryfields (i.e. ‘humanities and health’) or disci-plines that did not clearly fit into one of thelarger categories (i.e. architecture).Three-quarters of respondents who choseto identify their age are between 30 and 60,evenly split between the three decades. Theage range within each discipline has a similardistribution to the total respondents. Sixtyper cent of respondents are male, which iscongruent with the total UK academic staffpopulation.8In past surveys of research universitiesand in non-university research settings,authorship was used as one measure of pro-ductivity. Over the years it has been shownthat academic staff members who publishmore journal articles tend to read more.8Over 80% of the respondents have publishedat least one article in a refereed journal inthe past two years, and over half of staffmembers published at least two refereedjournal articles. Approximately 70% ofrespondents have published at least three ormore scholarly works in the past two years.Another measure of productivity iswhether respondents received awards or rec-ognition for their work. We asked if theyhave received any awards or recognition inthe past two years; they were then promptedto describe the award or recognition.Approximately 19% of respondents reportreceiving awards in the past two years. Theirresponses range from teaching excellencerecognition, grants, fellowships, best paperawards, and prizes for their research and/orwork.Finding 1: articles are essentialOne of the questions in all of the Tenopirand King surveys from 1977 to the present isan estimate of the total number of articlesread in the last month by each respondent.While it relies on personal recollection andthe assumption that the last month is anaccurate representation of a typical monthof reading, it gives an approximation of howmany articles a respondent reads, and allowsus to compare over time and across popula-tions.To aid the respondent’s memory, we askfor a relatively short period of time (onemonth) and define articles and reading care-fully. The first question states:In the past month (30 days), approximatelyhow many scholarly articles have you read?(Articles can include those found in journalissues, Web sites, or separate copies such aspreprints, reprints, and other electronic or pa-per copies. Reading is defined as going beyondthe table of contents, title, and abstract to thebody of the article).The actual number is not as important as therelative amounts among types of respon-dents and over time.In the past month UK academic staff read,on average, 22 articles (mean = 22.32, SD= 22.844).13 Extrapolated to an entire year,the average number of articles read per UKacademic across disciplines is 267, or 298excluding humanities.Since the first scholarly reading surveyscompleted by King in 1977, we have seen acontinual increase in the number of schol-arly article readings for all non-humanitiesacademics. In 1977, a survey of scientistsand social scientists in the US found anaverage of 150 article readings per year, withan increase in each subsequent set of sur-veys. In 2000–03 the average reading hadincreased to 216 articles per year and by2005–06 reading had increased to over 250articles per year .14We looked at how the respondents spendtheir work time, and how their work activi-ties may influence reading amounts.Academics who spend over half of theirwork time on research and writing read morearticles. These ‘research intensive’ academ-ics report 26 article readings per month onaverage (mean = 26.09), while academicswho spend less than half their time onresearch and writing report reading only 22articles per month (mean = 21.40).Article and book reading patterns of scholars: findings for publishers 281L E A R N E D P U B L I S H I N G V O L . 2 5 N O . 4 O C T O B E R 2 0 1 2extrapolated toan entire year,the averagenumber ofarticles readper UKacademicacrossdisciplinesis 267
  • 4. On the other hand, academics who spenda majority of their work time on teachingread fewer articles. These ‘teaching-inten-sive’ academics who spend over half theirwork time on teaching report 18 articlereadings per month on average (mean =18.23).The medical/health science disciplinesreport the most article readings per month(mean = 30.64), followed by engineering/technology (mean = 28.32), humanities(mean = 27.72), and sciences (mean =26.60). Social scientists report the fewestarticle readings per month (mean = 21.39,SD=20.98).Our findings compare with past studiesthat show academic staff members in themedical/health disciplines read more articlesbut spend less time per reading compared tothe other disciplines.14 Social scientistsspend on average slightly over an hour perarticle reading, with those in the medi-cal/health disciplines spending 41 minutes.Scientists and humanists spend approxi-mately 50 minutes per article reading.Academic staff members in the engineering/technology disciplines spend, on average,the most time per reading (mean = 72.29).The survey data not only shows theimportance of scholarly reading to each dis-cipline through the usage data (time andamount), but also provides a picture of pur-pose, value, and outcomes from readings. Weask, ‘For what principal purpose did you use, ordo you plan to use, the information obtainedfrom the article you last read?’ Nearlythree-quarters of the readings are for theprincipal purpose of research and writing(Table 1). The ‘other’ purposes include refer-ence, no clear principal purpose, or morethan one principal purpose.15In relation to the principal purpose, weasked respondents to describe the value ofreading by ranking the article’s importanceto the principal purpose and the outcomethe reading has on their work. Respondentsranked the article reading on a five-pointscale from absolutely essential to not at allimportant. Almost all of the readings are atleast somewhat important (98.9%), and 38%of readings (441 of 1,160) are very importantor absolutely essential to the principal pur-pose (Table 2). We received many commentsstating the importance of scholarly articlereading; many of them describing the read-ings as ‘essential’, ‘critical’, and ‘could not dowithout them’. Even when the reading is notranked as important to principal purpose,the respondent still often mentioned thatscholarly articles are ‘indispensable’ or an‘essential source of information’.The quality of the scholarly articles influ-ences the quality of the academic work. Onerespondent questions, ‘It is my understand-ing that scholarly articles are one of the282 Carol Tenopir, Rachel Volentine, and Donald W. KingL E A R N E D P U B L I S H I N G V O L . 2 5 N O . 4 O C T O B E R 2 0 1 2Table 1. Principal purpose of article reading by UK academic staff respondentsFrequency Per centResearch and writing 862 74.3Teaching 139 12.0Administration 2 0.2Current awareness/keeping up 69 5.9Consulting, advising 10 0.9Internal or external presentations 19 1.6Continuing education for self 29 2.5Engagement activities (to wider community) 4 0.3Other 27 2.3Total 1,161 100.0Table 2. Importance of article reading torespondents’ principal purposeFrequency Per centAbsolutely essential 150 12.9Very important 291 25.1Important 342 29.5Somewhat important 364 31.4Not at all important 13 1.1Total 1,160 100.038% ofreadings arevery importantor absolutelyessential to theprincipalpurpose
  • 5. prime tools for conducting research andteaching. How would you do conductresearch and teaching without them?’Another respondent reiterates, ‘They areabsolutely 100% essential to everything Ido.’ By understanding the essential quality ofarticle reading, it helps establish the impor-tance for providing access to quality articles.Finding 2: the library e-collection is themain source of articlesAn important part of our analysis of UK aca-demic staff reading patterns is determininghow they become aware of articles. In thesurvey we ask, ‘How did you or someone onyour behalf become aware of this last article youread?’ The answers reflect the many methodsavailable to find information. We followedup the question by asking if the source theysearched or browsed was a print or elec-tronic source. For the purposes of the surveywe defined browsing as ‘without a specificobjective in mind’ and searching as havingsome sort of starting point such as author’sname or by subject. We included a ‘don’tknow/don’t remember’ option for staff mem-bers who may have had someone on theirbehalf seek out the information or who maynot remember how they became aware of thearticle.Approximately a third of all readingsreported by UK academics (32.9%) arefound initially through a method of search-ing. Searching an electronic index orabstracting service is most common. Brows-ing accounted for 11% of all readings, and‘other’, including citations, another person,or don’t remember, accounted for over half(56%) of all readings.Of the articles found through browsing,38.3% come from the library institutionalsubscription, most of which come from anelectronic library subscription. Respondentsalso browsed a personal subscription (23%),an electronic search engine (14%), and awebsite (11%). While we did not specifywhether every source is print or electronic,Article and book reading patterns of scholars: findings for publishers 283L E A R N E D P U B L I S H I N G V O L . 2 5 N O . 4 O C T O B E R 2 0 1 2Table 3. How UK academic staff obtain articlesFrequency Per centPersonal subscription 56 4.7 (100.0)Print 43 (76.8)Electronic 13 (23.2)Library subscription 775 65.2 (100.0)Print 50 (6.5)Electronic 725 (93.5)Department/school 54 4.5 (100.0)Print 8 (14.8)Electronic 46 (85.2)Subject or institutional repository 26 2.2Free web journal 109 9.2Copy of the article from a colleague, author, etc. 66 5.6 (100.0)Print 16 (24.2)Electronic 50 (75.8)Interlibrary loan or document delivery service 25 2.1 (100.0)Print 13 (52.0)Electronic 12 (48.0)An author’s website 18 1.5Other website 32 2.7Other source 28 2.4 (100.0)Print 4 (14.3)Electronic 24 (85.7)Total 1,189 100.0approximatelya third of allreadingsreported byUK academics(32.9%) arefound initiallythrough amethod ofsearching
  • 6. from the data we do have, electronic sourcesare clearly the primary means of becomingaware of articles.Once the respondent became aware of thearticle, we asked where they obtained it.Almost two-thirds (65.2%) of the readingsare obtained from a library subscription(Table 3). Many respondents praised theimportance of library sources, including onerespondent who summed it up as, ‘Accessi-bility of scholarly journals and other libraryresources is crucial to the standing and effec-tiveness of a university and is a keydiscriminator between world-class universi-ties and less prestigious institutions.’ While apersonal subscription is used for approxi-mately 5% of the readings, the readings froma personal subscription are predominantlyprint (76.8%), whereas 94% of the readingsfrom a library subscription use an electronicversion.On the whole, readings obtained from thelibrary are considered more important thanthose obtained from other sources. Forty percent of readings provided by the library areconsidered very important to absolutelyessential, and less than 1% are considerednot at all important.There are some differences between wherethe article is obtained and the subject disci-pline of the reader. While over half of thereadings by each discipline are obtainedfrom a library subscription, readings from themedical/health academic staff membersreport the lowest percent of readings fromthe library (59.3%) and the highest percentfrom free web journals (15.9%). Ten per centof the readings by scientists are obtainedfrom free web journals, while less than 6% ofthe article readings by the other disciplinesare obtained from free web journals. Whilethe source to obtain the article varies, overthree-quarters of article readings in each dis-cipline are from an electronic source.While age does not significantly influencewhere the article is obtained, there is anincrease in the readings from personal sub-scriptions as the respondent’s age increases.Very few academics under 30 read from per-sonal subscriptions (approximately 2%),while 10% of readings from respondents over60 are from personal subscriptions. At least65% of article readings within each agegroup (decade) are obtained through thelibrary, except for respondents over 60(54.3%).The number of articles from an electronicresource exemplifies the importance of elec-tronic journals, and shows the continualneed to maintain these collections and worktowards making and marketing electroniccopies of scholarly journals.Finding 3: library e-collections areconvenient and an easy source to find andobtain articlesAcademics like it when they can find a rele-vant article and obtain its full-text from thesame source or a quick link. Library collec-tions that enable this are valuable toacademics. Regardless of how a reading isfound, the majority are obtained from alibrary subscription. One respondent stated,‘A well stocked library (including e-materi-als) is absolutely essential to all aspects ofscholarly activity. I can think of no feasiblealternative.’ Readings found through search-ing or citations are more likely to beobtained through a library subscription(73.3% and 77.2%, respectively).Both becoming aware of and obtainingarticles require time, and academics want tospend as little time as possible on thesetasks. One respondent states,It is important to get an article almost im-mediately through an on-line subscription.There is far too much information outthere and very little time to screenthrough and read articles. I find that thereis less chance of reading an article, whenthere is a delay between the time of find-ing the article and getting hold of it.One of the most frequent comments wereceived is the importance of speed and easyaccess to articles. Electronic sources allowfor less delay between locating and obtainingthe article. Articles obtained through a printsource take an average of 5 minutes toobtain, while articles from an electronicsource take approximately 3 minutes toobtain. While there is a significant associa-tion between print and electronic sources ofarticles and the time to obtain, the individ-ual sources (library subscription, personal284 Carol Tenopir, Rachel Volentine, and Donald W. KingL E A R N E D P U B L I S H I N G V O L . 2 5 N O . 4 O C T O B E R 2 0 1 2very fewacademicsunder 30 readfrom personalsubscriptions(approximately2%), while10% ofreadings fromrespondentsover 60 arefrom personalsubscriptions
  • 7. subscription, etc.) do not have a significantinfluence on the time to obtain. All sourcesrequire 2–3 minutes to obtain the article,except for interlibrary loan, which averages15 minutes. Clearly, academics have becomeaccustomed to speedy access to articles oncethey become aware of them.Another aspect of convenience is loca-tion. While academics are using the library’sresources, they are often accessing thelibrary’s resources remotely and are rarelyreading in the library. UK academics do themajority of their reading in their office andlaboratory (60%), and less than 2% of thereadings are read in the library (Table 4).Location is no longer a major factor in a staffmember’s access to academic sourcesbecause the scholarly articles can beaccessed and read from multiple locations.All of these features save the academic’stime – e-collections, synchronization offinding and obtaining services, full-textdownloads, and remote access. In many waysthese services are not just ‘nice’ but neces-sary. One respondent comments, ‘Theonline access provided via the university’slibrary subscriptions to a wide range of jour-nals across many disciplines is vital to memeeting my expected workload as aResearch Associate.’ Another respondentreiterates, ‘I could not do my research with-out the speedy and wide-ranging access tomaterial provided through the electronicresources from the library.’ New bundles andservices which continue to improve thefunctionality and efficiency of e-collectionswill only further benefit the academicendeavor.Finding 4: scholars consider articlesimportant because the readings keep themup-to-date in their field, but they also wantolder material for reference and as afoundation for new ideasWhile readings principally support thescholar’s research, one of the most frequentcomments we received about the importanceof scholarly article readings was its use inkeeping their research up to date in the field.The respondents repeatedly said, ‘They areessential for keeping up to date with newinterpretations and discoveries’, and ‘ tokeep up to date with research in the fields Iteach and conduct research’.Current issues of journals are important,but older material is also crucial to scholars.One respondent points out, ‘[It is] essentialto have access to older articles to preventreinventing the wheel.’ Older publicationsallow scholars to see ideas or trends evolveand develop over time, as well as to familiar-ize themselves with the foundation/key ideasin a field.In the surveys from 1977 to 2005 in theUS, we have seen an increase in reading ofarticles older than the first year of publica-tion, though reading is still skewed to themost recent articles.16 The findings in theUK follow the same trend we first saw in the2005 US and Australia studies. Nearlyone-half of the readings are from articles intheir first 18 months of publication (Table5), yet the year of publication ranges from asearly as 1890, with 13 articles publishedbefore 1950. Over two-thirds of readings areArticle and book reading patterns of scholars: findings for publishers 285L E A R N E D P U B L I S H I N G V O L . 2 5 N O . 4 O C T O B E R 2 0 1 2Table 4. Location of article reading by UKacademic staff respondentsFrequency Per centOffice or laboratory 699 60.2Library 20 1.7Home 324 27.9Travelling 116 10.0Elsewhere 3 0.3Total 1,162 100.0Table 5. Age of article read by UK academicstaff respondents arranged by date groupingsYear Frequency Per centOver 15 years(before 1996)128 11.111 years–15 years(1996–2000)72 6.36 years–10 years(2001–05)157 13.72 years–5 years(2006–09)253 22.01 year–1½ years(2010–11)539 46.9Total 1,149 100.0current issuesof journals areimportant, butolder materialis also crucialto scholars
  • 8. within five years of the article’s publication(68.9%).Humanists read a higher proportion ofarticles after the first year of publication,while medical/health staff members readmore current articles. While the most fre-quent year of publication for each disciplineis either 2010 (humanities) or 2011 (allother disciplines) (i.e. within the first 16–18months of publication), half of the readingsfor humanities were published before 2005(6.5 years old or older). On the other hand,half of the readings in the social sciences andengineering/technology disciplines werepublished after 2008 (approximately 2.5years old), and half the readings in the sci-ences and medical/health disciplines werepublished after 2009 (no more than 18months old). A quarter of the readings byhumanists were published before 1996 (morethan 15 years old), while less than 10% ofreadings from other disciplines are 15 yearsold or older.It is important to think about how thelibrary packages are bundled because aca-demics are reading older articles. Studiesdone by Guthrie,17 Odlyzko,18 and Herman19provide further research on the life of a jour-nal article and its half-life. They found manyolder articles are heavily used when they areconveniently accessible; however, academicstend to cite more recent articles in order toseem current and up to date in their field.Our findings and their research further sug-gests that backfiles are a key investment inaddition to current subscriptions.Finding 5: academics still print-out articlesfor final reading, although on-screenreading is increasingAlthough approximately 87% of readings areobtained from an electronic source, slightlyless than half of all readings are read on acomputer or other electronic screen (Table6). The other half are read in a print form,286 Carol Tenopir, Rachel Volentine, and Donald W. KingL E A R N E D P U B L I S H I N G V O L . 2 5 N O . 4 O C T O B E R 2 0 1 2Table 6. Final format of last article reading by UK academic staffFrequency Per centPrint article in a print journal 114 9.8Photocopy or fax copy 30 2.6Online computer screen 348 29.9Previously downloaded/saved and read on computer screen 173 14.9On a mobile, e-reader or tablet screen 8 0.7Downloaded and printed on paper 476 40.9Other 14 1.2Total 1,163 100.0Table 7. Association between age of UK academic staff respondent and reading form of articleReading form Row totalPrint Printed electronicsourceElectronicUnder 30 179.2%8143.5%8847.3%18631–40 227.213744.6%14848.2%30741–50 3914.2%11642.2%12043.6%27551–60 3215.3%8138.6%9746.1%210Over 60 1521.4%2332.9%3245.7%70Column total 125 438 485 1,048our findingsand theirresearch furthersuggests thatbackfiles are akey investmentin addition tocurrentsubscriptionsacademics stillprint-outarticles forfinal reading,althoughon-screenreading isincreasing
  • 9. either from a print journal or downloadedand printed from an electronic source(54.5%). Many respondents complained ofthe ‘eye strain’ and formatting issues ofelectronic journal article reading. Onerespondent observes, ‘Electronic resourceshave revolutionized the way research isdone … but journal and book formats arenot designed well for reading on screen so alot of printing resources are needed’, andanother respondent adds, ‘I like reading hardcopy, but now mostly read publications oncomputer screens, which are less comfort-able on the eyes and neck.’The majority of articles are from elec-tronic sources, regardless of age of reader,but there is an increase in the use of printjournals by respondents as their ageincreases (Table 7). Twenty-one per cent ofarticle readings by respondents over 60 arefrom a print source and 33% are read from aprinted copy from an electronic source.Nearly half of the respondents in each agegroup are reading on computer screen.While academics and libraries no longerpurchase as many print journals as before,some of the costs are offset by the increasedprice of printing the material. One respon-dent says, ‘Journal and book formats are notdesigned well for reading on screen so a lotof printing resources are needed.’ Innova-tions to make reading on-screen moreeye-friendly may help increase the use andpopularity of e-resources.Reading on-screen is increasing. In ourstudies in 2005 in the US only 17% of arti-cles were read on a computer screen.16 Thischange is testament to the increase in arti-cles obtained from electronic sources, andthe saturation of electronic material into allaspects of academic life regardless of age ordiscipline.Finding 6: books are also important forteaching and research, particularly in thehumanitiesReadings from books also play a crucial rolein academic work. One respondent com-ments, ‘In my discipline both journal articlesand books (monographs and edited vol-umes) play an important role in bothteaching (which is often enquiry-based) andresearch’, and another respondent notes,‘edited books and monographs remain just asimportant [as articles] in my field’. UK aca-demic staff average seven book or bookchapter readings per month or approxi-mately 84 readings from books per year(mean = 6.95, SD = 9.589).20Humanists report the most book readingsby a large margin (mean = 20.50). Academ-ics in the social sciences report an average ofnine book readings per month, while thosein the sciences and medical/health disci-plines report the fewest readings per month(Table 8).There is a significant relationship betweenthe respondent’s age and the number ofbook readings (F = 1.216, P = 0.302). Asthe age of the respondent increases, thenumber of book readings increases. Respon-dents under 30 report approximately fivebook readings per month, and respondentsover 60 report approximately eight bookreadings a month.When we compared academics who spenda majority of their work time on researchand those who spend less than half theirwork time on research, we found a signifi-cant relationship between the amount ofbook readings. Research-intensive academ-ics who spend over half their work time onresearch, read from fewer books or bookchapters (mean = 4.12) than those whospend less than half their work time onresearch (mean = 8.83). On the other hand,teaching-intensive academics who spend amajority of their work time on teaching readmore from books or book chapters (mean =11.41) than those who spend less than halftheir work time on teaching (mean = 6.58).As with article readings, over half of bookreadings are for the principal purpose ofArticle and book reading patterns of scholars: findings for publishers 287L E A R N E D P U B L I S H I N G V O L . 2 5 N O . 4 O C T O B E R 2 0 1 2Table 8. Average number of book readings byUK academic staff respondents’ disciplinen No. readSocial sciences 259 9.02Sciences 366 3.04Humanities 120 20.50Engineering/technology 178 5.27Medical/health 145 3.70Others 20 7.30Total 1,088 6.95research-intensiveacademics whospend over halftheir work timeon research,read fromfewer books orbook chapters
  • 10. research and writing (58%, 531 of 921).Approximately a quarter of readings (28%)are for teaching and 5% are for continuingeducation (Table 9). The ‘other’ responsesinclude for review and more than one princi-pal purpose.Approximately 91% of the readings (910of 918) are considered at least somewhatimportant (Table 10).While academics are not reading as manybooks per month as articles, books still play acrucial role in their work. The books theyare reading are considered, on average,extremely important and support researchand teaching. Readers return to the samebook and may read just sections or chapters.Scholarly books support academic work, inparticular, in the humanities.Finding 7: books are often circulatedbetween colleagues, and word of mouth isimportant for promoting booksWhile articles are primarily sought outthrough searching, browsing, or anotheractive means of finding, books are oftenfound by word of mouth. Over a quarter ofthe book readings are found through anotherperson. In addition, a large group of readersalready knew of the book; consider it a coretext in the field; or have it on their book-shelf. Over a third of the book readings werefound through word of mouth, includingreadings found by advertisements, forreview, and from another person, and 8% ofthe readings are from books already owned.While articles seem to have a high turnover(academics are constantly reading new arti-cles), books tend to be circulated betweenscholars and re-read by individuals.Many of the respondents consider thebooks they read a ‘key element in personallibrary over many years’, a ‘key referencevolume’, or a ‘major text book in the field’.We assume, therefore, many of the readingsare re-readings. Even though we did not askthe respondents for the year of publicationor if they knew the information in the bookprior to reading, we expect the average yearof publication would be older and morerespondents would know all or parts of thebook prior to reading than with article read-ings.We asked, ‘After you became aware of thisbook, from where did you obtain it?’ The word-ing was kept similar to the other sections forcomparison, but the answer choices weremodified to reflect the different sources forbooks. Thirty-nine per cent of book readingsare from books that are purchased (364 ofthe 931) (Table 11). The library or archivescollection and interlibrary loan account for alittle over a quarter of book readings288 Carol Tenopir, Rachel Volentine, and Donald W. KingL E A R N E D P U B L I S H I N G V O L . 2 5 N O . 4 O C T O B E R 2 0 1 2Table 9. Principal purpose of book reading by UK academic staff respondentsFrequency Per centResearch and writing 531 57.6Teaching 254 27.6Administration 1 0.1Current awareness/keeping up 23 2.5Consulting, advising 20 2.2Internal or external presentations 10 1.1Continuing education for self 48 5.2Engagement activities (to wider community) 7 0.8Knowledge transfer or enterprise activities 4 0.4Other 23 2.5Total 921 100.0Table 10. Importance of books to UK academicstaff respondents’ principal purposeFrequency Per centAbsolutely essential 168 18.3Very important 287 31.3Important 274 29.8Somewhat important 181 19.7Not at all important 8 0.9Total 918 100.0word of mouthis important forpromotingbooks
  • 11. (27.6%), and another quarter of book read-ings are from books provided by anotherperson or the publisher (24.5%). The ‘other’responses vary, but 19 readings were identi-fied as electronic books (2%, 931).Unlike with article readings, the library’scollections are not the main source of bookreadings. Academics may prefer purchasingbooks because they plan on re-reading booksover time and passing them between theircolleagues. It may also be that the librarydoes not have the desired books or that printbooks in a personal collection are just moreconvenient that having to go the library forprint books.Readings for research or teaching aremore likely to come from the library, whilereadings for engagement activities, presenta-tions, and enterprise activities come fromanother person (colleague or publisher).This suggests that book readings for teachingor research, the tasks that take up a largerpercentage of work time, are more likely tobe explicitly sought, while readings for pur-poses that take up less work time come fromreadily available sources that do not requirea lot of work to find or obtain.Finding 8: e-books for scholarly reading arenot yet common among academic staffOnly a small percentage of scholarly bookreadings obtained from the library by aca-demic staff in the UK are currently frome-books. We expect these numbers to begreater for students, but did not survey stu-dents in this study. A 2009 study in the UKfound that 65% of staff and students haveread an e-book for work, study, or leisure,and over half of those readings wereobtained through the library (51.9%).12 Lei-sure reading was specifically excluded in ourstudy. In the open comments section of oursurvey some respondents praise e-books withcomments such as: ‘e-books have revolu-tionized the way research is done. It is muchmore efficient than browsing hardcopy, butjournal and book formats are not designedwell for reading on screen’, and ‘[e-books]would make rare and specialist books muchmore available’. The library provision ofbooks, in particular e-books, is clearly anarea for further research.Finding 9: academics who publish moreand win awards also read moreIn past studies, we have found that academ-ics who have won awards or received specialrecognition in the past two years read morearticles.8 This is also true in the UK, asrespondents who earned an award withinthe last two years read more articles thanthose who have not received an award. Aca-demics who received an award in the pasttwo years read on average 29 articles amonth, six more than those who have notreceived an award.Academic staff who received an awardwithin the past two years also report morereadings from books. On average, award-winning staff read from eight books (mean =8.08), while non-award winning staff readfrom six books (mean = 6.46).The number of publications also has a sig-nificant association with the number ofArticle and book reading patterns of scholars: findings for publishers 289L E A R N E D P U B L I S H I N G V O L . 2 5 N O . 4 O C T O B E R 2 0 1 2Table 11. How UK academic staff respondents obtain booksFrequency Per centI bought it for myself 364 39.1The library or archives collection 239 25.7Interlibrary loan or document delivery service 18 1.9School or department collection 24 2.6A colleague, author or other person provided it to me 98 10.5A free, advance, or purchased copy from the publisher 130 14.0Other source (58) (6.2)Online, e-book 19 2.0Other 39 4.2Total 931 100.0unlike witharticle readings,the library’scollections arenot the mainsource of bookreadingsacademics whopublish moreand winawards alsoread more
  • 12. article readings. Academics who publishmore, including refereed and non-refereedarticles, books, and conference proceedings,read more articles. Academics who reportmore than 20 publications in the last twoyears read on average 36 articles per month,while those who produced only one or twopublications in the last two years read just 20articles on average per month.Finding 10: social media supportstraditional scholarly materialSocial media tools have developed over thepast decade, and their use has undoubtedlyincreased in both the academic and non-academic world. In this study we wanted tomeasure both amount of social media useand the number of social media tools used,and see if use of social media has an influ-ence on reading of traditional materials.Many UK academics use one or more formsof social media for work-related purposes,but creation is less common. Use, however, ismore often occasional rather than on a regu-lar basis. Open-ended comments confirmedthat social media may help spread someideas and provoke thoughts, but are not asvaluable as traditional scholarly material.One respondent says, ‘magazines and somesocial media provide interesting grounds foridea but cannot at any point replace highquality peer reviewed journal articles’, andanother staff member believes, ‘they aregreat for popularizing highlights of sciencebut should not be allowed to skew invest-ment away from core, peer reviewedpublications’.Nearly half of the respondents read, view,or participate in one or more of the socialmedia tools at least occasionally. A varietyof specific tools are used, with blogs, video,and user comments in online articles mostcommonly used. Participation is more fre-quent than creation, with only a quarter ofthe respondents reporting they create one ormore social media tools. There is a signifi-cant association between the number ofarticle, book, and other publication readingsand the participation in most of the socialmedia tools. Contrary to our expectations,respondents who read more articles partici-pate in more social media tools and createmore tools. Respondents who participateand create more social media tools also readmore books.There are some differences in use orcreation based on demographic factors.Social scientists and humanists are morelikely to be bloggers. Age makes some differ-ence, particularly for creation of micro-blogs(twitter). Videos are most often viewed orcreated for teaching, rather than research.High frequency users or creators of socialmedia are more likely to be age 50 or youn-ger and, contrary to our expectations, readmore scholarly materials than others.Academics who are engaged with tradi-tional materials for their scholarly work arealso embracing various forms of social mediato a higher degree than their colleagues. Fornow, social media is not replacing traditionalscholarly resources for research and teach-ing, but rather enhancing their use.ConclusionsAcademics devote a large amount of theirtime to reading articles and books. Thesereadings remain important to academics ofall ages and disciplines for many purposes,notably for research and teaching. While wecannot claim cause and effect, the profile ofa successful academic in the UK is one whoreads more on average. Award-winning andprolific academics in the UK read more arti-cles than their colleagues, another indirectmeasure of the importance of scholarlymaterials to the academic enterprise.There are some variations in readingpatterns, depending on the personal charac-teristics of the reader or purpose of reading.For example, the number of articles or booksread monthly, the time spent per reading,and how articles and books are discovered orobtained varies with characteristics of read-ers such as age and subject discipline.Readings for the purpose of research takemore time and are more often come from alibrary’s e-journal collection. Readings forcurrent awareness are more likely to comefrom a personal subscription than are otherreadings.Reading patterns for articles and booksare quite different. Academics rely on theirlibrary e-journal collections for much of290 Carol Tenopir, Rachel Volentine, and Donald W. KingL E A R N E D P U B L I S H I N G V O L . 2 5 N O . 4 O C T O B E R 2 0 1 2nearly half ofthe respondentsread, view, orparticipate inone or more ofthe socialmedia tools
  • 13. their article reading, but still prefer printedbooks in their personal collections. E-bookshave not yet made much of an inroad forscholarly reading by UK academics. There isan opportunity here for both publishers andlibraries. Just as e-journal collections havechanged reading patterns over the lastdecades, allowing academics to locate andobtain more article readings more quickly,1convenient access to scholarly booksthrough the university library may allowmore academics to read from more books forteaching or research. The value of scholarlyreading to the work of academics is high andhas remained so over many decades. Under-standing the different patterns of readingbetween scholarly articles and books, byprincipal purpose of reading, and by individ-ual readers in different disciplines or of ageshelps publishers and libraries together con-tinue to provide the best access systems tothe resources that are so important to aca-demic work.References1. Tenopir, C., King, D. W., Spencer, J., and Wu, Lei.2009. Variations in article seeking and reading pat-terns of academics: What makes a difference? Library& Information Science Research, 31: 139–148.doi:10.1016/j.lisr.2009.02.0022. Tenopir, C. and King, D.W. Towards Electronic Jour-nals: Realities for Scientist, Librarians and Publishers.Washington DC, Special Libraries Association, 2000.3. Tenopir, C., Wilson, S., Vakkari, P., Talja,S., and King,D. W. 2010. Cross country comparison of scholarlye-reading patterns in Australia, Finland and theUnited States. Australian Academic & Research Librar-ies (AARL), 41: 26–41.4. King, D.W. and Tenopir, C. Using and reading schol-arly literature. In Annual Review of Information Scienceand Technology 34. Medford, NJ, Information Today,Inc., 2001, pp. 423–477.5. Healy, L. W., Dagar, L., and Wilkie, K. M. Customreport prepared for the Digital Library Federation/Councilon Library and Information Resources. Burlingame, CA,Outsell, 2002.6. Talja, S., and Maula, H. 2003. Reasons for the use andnon-use of electronic journals and databases: adomain analytic study in four scholarly disciplines.Journal of Documentation, 59, 673-691. Vakkari, P. 2006. Trends in the use of digital librariesby scientists in 2000–2005: A case study of FinELib.In A. Grove (ed.), Proceedings 69th annual meeting ofthe American society for information science and technol-ogy (ASIST) 43 Austin, TX. Medford, NJ, InformationToday, Inc. Retrieved 17 March 2009, from King, D.W., Tenopir, C., Montgomery, C. H., andAerni, S. E. 2003. Patterns of journal use by faculty atthree diverse universities. D-Lib Magazine, 9. Brown, C.M. 2003. The role of electronic preprints inchemical communication: analysis of citation, usageand acceptance in the journal literature. Journal of theAmerican Society of Information Science and Technology,54: 362–371. Research Information Network. E-journals: their use,value and impact final report. A RIN and RLUK Report.January 2011. Nicholas, D., Williams, P., Rowlans, I., and Jamali, H.R. 2010. Researchers’ e-journal use and informationseeking behaviour. Journal of Information Science, 36:494–516.doi: 10.1177/0165551510371883.12. CIBER. JISC National E-Books Observatory Project:Key Findings and Recommendations Final Report.CIBER, 2009. Available at All calculations exclude outliers, unless otherwisenoted.14. Tenopir, C., King, D. W., Edwards, S., and Wu, L.2009. Electronic journals and changes in scholarlyarticle seeking and reading patterns. Aslib Proceedings:New Information Perspectives, 61: 5.doi: 10.1108/00012530910932267.15. Tenopir, C., Volentine, R., and King, D.W. 2012.Scholarly reading and the value of academic librarycollections: results of a study in six UK universities.Insights: The UKSG Journal, 25 July.16. King, D.W., Tenopir C., Choemprayong S., and Wu L.2009. Scholarly Journal information seeking and read-ing patterns of faculty at five US universities. LearnedPublishing, 22: 2.17. Guthrie, K. 2000. Revitalizing older published litera-ture: preliminary lessons from the use of JSTOR. Eco-nomics and Usage of Digital Library CollectionsConference. MIT Press. Odlyzko, A.M. 2000. The rapid evolution of scholarlycommunication. Conference on the economics and usageof digital library collections. Herman, E. 2004. Research in progress: some prelimi-nary and key insights into the information needs ofthe contemporary academic researcher. Part 2. AslibProceedings, 56: 118–131.doi: 10.1108/00012530410529495.20. Mean excludes one outlier at 350. With the outlierthe mean is 8.13 (SD = 16.54).Carol TENOPIR ( VOLENTINE ( W. KING( of TennesseeCenter for Information and CommunicationsStudiesKnoxville, TN 37996, USAArticle and book reading patterns of scholars: findings for publishers 291L E A R N E D P U B L I S H I N G V O L . 2 5 N O . 4 O C T O B E R 2 0 1 2e-books havenot yet mademuch of aninroad forscholarlyreading by UKacademics