Beyond borders: Examining the role of national learned societies in the social sciences and humanities

Authors : Elina LateRaf GunsJanne PölönenJadranka StojanovskiMimi UrbancMichael Ochsner

The aim of this paper is to examine the status of national learned societies in social sciences and humanities (SSH) in Europe. Previous research shows that learned societies serve diverse roles in higher education and suggests that national societies come under pressure given different developments, such as internationalization or open science adoption.

We investigate a comprehensive range of aspects within national learned societies: primary goals, activities, internationalization, organization, funding, membership, and recent changes, addressing potential pressures arising from them. Using a cross-national survey involving 194 learned societies across eight European countries, we study: (a) do the previous findings from individual countries or small selections of national societies hold for a broad range of learned societies in SSH across Europe, and (b) are national learned societies coming under pressure due to internationalization and commercialization processes?

Our findings confirm previous results from single countries and single disciplines and expand them as our results show that national learned societies in SSH play an important role in Europe in promoting multilingualism in science, collaborating with many stakeholders, and fostering interdisciplinarity. Contrary to previous research, most SSH societies in our study have not undergone significant changes in the past 5 years, challenging expectations of their declining role.

URL : Beyond borders: Examining the role of national learned societies in the social sciences and humanities


More than data repositories: perceived information needs for the development of social sciences and humanities research infrastructures

Authors : Anna Sendra, Elina Late, Sanna Kumpulainen


The digitalization of social sciences and humanities research necessitates research infrastructures. However, this transformation is still incipient, highlighting the need to better understand how to successfully support data-intensive research.


Starting from a case study of building a national infrastructure for conducting data-intensive research, this study aims to understand the information needs of digital researchers regarding the facility and explore the importance of evaluation in its development.


Thirteen semi-structured interviews with social sciences and humanities scholars and computer and data scientists processed through a thematic analysis revealed three themes (developing a research infrastructure, needs and expectations of the research infrastructure, and an approach to user feedback and user interactions).


Findings reveal that developing an infrastructure for conducting data-intensive research is a complicated task influenced by contrasting information needs between social sciences and humanities scholars and computer and data scientists, such as the demand for increased support of the former. Findings also highlight the limited role of evaluation in its creation.


The development of infrastructures for conducting data-intensive research requires further discussion that particularly considers the disciplinary differences between social sciences and humanities scholars and computer and data scientists. Suggestions on how to better design this kind of facilities are also raised.

URL : More than data repositories: perceived information needs for the development of social sciences and humanities research infrastructures


The role of learned societies in national scholarly publishing

Authors : Elina Late, Laura Korkeamäki, Janne Pölönen, Sami Syrjämäki

This study examines the role of learned societies as publishers in Finland based on bibliographic information from two Finnish databases. We studied the share of learned societies’ peer‐reviewed publication channels (serials with ISSNs and book publishers with distinct ISBN roots) and outputs (journal articles, conference articles, book articles, and monographs) in Finland.

We also studied the share of learned societies’ open access (OA) publications. In 2018, there were 402 peer‐reviewed publication channels in Finland. In 2011–2017, the number of peer‐reviewed publications from scholars working in Finnish universities and published in Finland was 17,724.

Learned societies publish around 70% of these channels and publications, mostly in the fields of humanities and social sciences. Learned societies in Finland focus on journal publishing, whereas university presses and commercial publishers focus on book publishing. In 2016–2017, 38.4% of the learned societies’ outputs were OA.

This study concludes that Finnish learned societies play an integral part in national scholarly publishing. They play an especially important role in journal publishing, as commercial publishers produce only 2.6% of Finnish journals and book series, and only 1.4% of the journal articles from scholars working in Finnish universities.


Reading practices in scholarly work: from articles and books to blogs

Authors : Elina Late, Carol Tenopir, Sanna Talja, Lisa Christian

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of reading in scholarly work among academics in Finland. This study analyzes readings from a variety of publication types including books, conference proceedings, research reports, magazines, newspapers, blogs, non-fiction and fiction.

An online survey was developed and distributed in Finland in 2016–2017 (n=528). Participants were asked their finding and use of scholarly information resources of all types.

Scholars read from a variety of publications. Different types of publications are read and used differently. Reading also varies between disciplines, ranks, work responsibilities and type of research performed.

Research limitations/implications

The study was a nationwide study of researchers in Finland; therefore, all findings are within the context of researchers in a single country. All results are self-reported; therefore, the authors assume but cannot be sure that respondents accurately recollect the specifics of their use of scholarly information.

The results of this study are relevant to publishers, research librarians, editors and others who serve consumers of scholarly information resources, design information products and services for those scholars, and seek to better understand the information needs and use of a variety of types of scholarly publications.

This study replicates previous studies in a variety of countries and provides a more up-to-date and single-country contextualized overview of how researchers find and use scholarly information in their work.


Research Data Services in European Academic Research Libraries

Authors : Carol Tenopir, Sanna Talja, Wolfram Horstmann, Elina Late, Dane Hughes, Danielle Pollock, Birgit Schmidt, Lynn Baird, Robert J. Sandusky, Suzie Allard

Research data is an essential part of the scholarly record, and management of research data is increasingly seen as an important role for academic libraries.

This article presents the results of a survey of directors of the Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER) academic member libraries to discover what types of research data services (RDS) are being offered by European academic research libraries and what services are planned for the future.

Overall, the survey found that library directors strongly agree on the importance of RDS. As was found in earlier studies of academic libraries in North America, more European libraries are currently offering or are planning to offer consultative or reference RDS than technical or hands-on RDS.

The majority of libraries provide support for training in skills related to RDS for their staff members. Almost all libraries collaborate with other organizations inside their institutions or with outside institutions in order to offer or develop policy related to RDS.

We discuss the implications of the current state of RDS in European academic research libraries, and offer directions for future research.

URL : Research Data Services in European Academic Research Libraries