Blog Post

Why We Need HASTAC (and PhD Lab) Now More Than Ever

An important new study by the British Library and JISC, begun in 2009 with 17,000 doctoral students surveyed from over 70 higher education institutions, was just published by Researchers of Tomorrow, focusing on doctoral studentsborn between 1982 and 1994.   The study underscores the importance of "learning the future together," as we say at HASTAC, and is one of the reasons why Duke is starting a new Ph.D. Lab in Digital Knowledge in the Fall.   The key issues in this study are ones that motivate both the HASTAC project, begun in 2002, and the new PhD Lab I'll be co-directing here at Duke and that will have a constant, consistent public interface to extend far beyond Duke.

You can read the entire study here and also dowload it from the JISC Site:


Here are some keypoints (quoted from the abstract) on the JISC website:

"Our research findings reveal:

  • Doctoral students are increasingly reliant on secondary research resources (eg journal articles, books), moving away from primary materials (eg primary archival material and large datasets).
  • Access to relevant resources is a major constraint for doctoral students’ progress. Authentication access and licence limitations to subscription-based resources, such as e-journals, are particularly problematic.
  • Open access and copyright appear to be a source of confusion for Generation Y doctoral students, rather than encouraging innovation and collaborative research.
  • This generation of doctoral students operate in an environment where their research behaviour does not use the full potential of innovative technology.
  • Doctoral students are insufficiently trained or informed to be able to fully embrace the latest opportunities in the digital information environment.

. . . .

These findings raise important questions about research development, training and support within research led organisations and the openness and sharing of research.... For example:

  • For senior managers in higher education institutions the focus of interest may be on what the study reveals about research development, training and support, and the decisive role and influence of doctoral supervisors
  • For academic and research library staff the key concerns may be the evident impact of declining or at-risk subscription-based e-journal collections, and the reach of libraries and library staff in supporting information-seeking and research work
  • Strategic and funding bodies within both sectors might focus on the widespread misconceptions evident about open access and copyright, and the constraints on technology take-up, openness and sharing of research among doctoral students
  • Commercial and other research information service providers and publishers might give greater consideration to the students' perspectives when developing the technology-based tools that are increasingly used to augment products and services

The study found that Generation Y doctoral students are sophisticated information-seekers and users of complex information sources. They are not dazzled by technology and are acutely aware of critical issues such as authority and authenticity in research and evidence gathering."

Again, here's the url for the full report and the free download:




Cathy N. Davidson is co-founder of HASTAC, a 9000+ network committed to new modes of collaboration, research, learning, and institutional change.  Along with a steering committee of scholars across many fields, Davidson has been directing HASTAC's operations since 2006, when moved to Duke University, where she also co-directs the Ph.D. Lab in Digital Knowledge.   She is author of The Future of Thinking:  Learning Institutions for a Digital Age (with HASTAC co-founder David Theo Goldberg), and  Now You See It:  How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn (Viking Press). She is co-PI on the HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions.   NOTE:  The views expressed in Cat in the Stack blogs and in NOW YOU SEE IT are solely those of the author and not of HASTAC, nor of any institution or organization. Davidson also writes on her own author blog, [NYSI cover]











Sorry I missed it!   Good luck to you.