2020 UW-IT Survey on Researchers’ IT Needs

Last updated: September 14, 2022
Audience: ResearchersIT Staff / TechnicalDecision Makers

Ten years ago, UW-IT completed a two-year effort to speak with Principal Investigators (PI) to understand their technology pain points. The findings, presented in the report “Conversations with University of Washington Research Leaders,” supported the early efforts of the eScience Institute, led to the creation of a research computing unit in UW-IT, and helped guide UW-IT in creating research computing infrastructure.

Since those conversations took place, research practices and supporting technologies have evolved rapidly. In 2019, UW-IT proposed a new study to update our understanding of the current and evolving technology and infrastructure needs of UW researchers. Rather than individual interviews with PIs (the methodology of the original study), data will be gathered through a survey targeting a more comprehensive population – more than 7500 UW researchers across all three campuses, conducting research in diverse fields, and at every level (from post-docs to PIs).

The survey is designed to identify unmet needs and pain points for researchers in the following areas:

  • Data and Computing Needs
  • Data Management
  • Resources and Support
  • Collaboration
  • Research Technologies and Teaching

The survey development process included interviews with ten administrators, staff, and faculty in positions to hear about researcher needs from broad groups and across a range of disciplines. Research Scientist Janice Fournier, Ph.D., led the survey development team with assistance from Katherine Chang, Research Assistant, and Rob Fatland, Cloud Director of UW-IT’s Research Computing & Strategy. The team analyzed the results of these interviews and combined them with the findings from the 2008 report to create a framework for survey development. They pilot-tested a draft of the survey and revisions in January and February 2020 with volunteer faculty from multiple fields. The final version of the survey, ready to distribute in March, was delayed due to COVID-19.

Researchers received an email inviting them to take the survey on November 10, and reminders were sent biweekly. The survey closed on Friday, December 18.