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Ithaka S+R Research Support Services Project on Religious Studies


The Princeton Theological Seminary Library (not yet named the Wright Library) joined Ithaka S+R in its study on the research needs of scholars in religion and theology: Research Support Services Project on Religious Studies.

This project followed on Ithaka S+R’s earlier successful studies of the research needs of historians, chemists and art historians respectively. It was the first in the Ithaka S+R series to be conducted in partnership with participating institutions.

Princeton Theological Seminary was one of the first institutions to sign on for the project in 2015. The 18 participating institutions included:

Asbury Theological Seminary, Baylor University, Brigham Young University, Columbia University, Concordia Theological Seminary, Emory University, Harvard University, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Luther Seminary, Naropa University, Princeton Theological Seminary, Rice University, Temple University, Tufts University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, Vanderbilt University, Yale University

Our local contribution to the project was part of a larger suite of similar local studies being conducted concurrently at eighteen university and seminary libraries in higher education institutions across the country. The local qualitative study was used to improve the research support services provided at Princeton Theological Seminary. However, the raw, anonymized data gathered by our local team of librarians was also included in a larger, aggregate report by Ithaka S+R. This national report provides invaluable insight into the research support services needs of religion and theology scholars more broadly.

Ithaka S+R is a not-for-profit research and consulting service that helps academic, cultural, and publishing communities. Support and guidance for the project was provided by the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Theological Library Association, working jointly with Ithaka S+R.

Local Report

Dearborn, V., Gundry, J., and Skrebutenas, K. "The Research Practices and Support Needs of Advanced Scholars in Religion and Theology: A Local Report by Princeton Theological Seminary Library." Princeton Theological Seminary, 2016,

National Report

Cooper, Danielle, Roger C. Schonfeld, Richard Adams, Matthew Baker, Nisa Bakkalbasi, John G. Bales, Rebekah Bedard, et al. "Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Religious Studies Scholars." Ithaka S+R. Last Modified 8 February 2017.

From the report (page 2): "We dedicate this report to the memory of Donald Vorp, who was a great supporter of the Research Support Services project on Religious Studies and a champion of theological librarianship."

Collaborating to Support Religious Studies Scholars (blog post about the project), by Danielle Cooper, Ithaka S+R

How was the study shaped?

From February to May 2016, teams of librarians at local institutions conducted in-depth on-campus interviews with senior scholars about their research practices and support needs, including gathering photographic documentation of faculty workspaces. The semi-structured interview protocol of 13 questions used nationally at all participating institutions focused on four areas of interest:

  • Research Focus
  • Research Methods
  • Publishing Practices
  • State of the Field

Local research teams analyzed the qualitative data gathered and submitted a written local report to Ithaka S+R by August 2016. Ithaka S+R’s final report (February 2017), based on its own analysis of all of the participating teams’ data, provides a national picture.