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• In June 2009, over 1000 UK research users responded to a survey about their access to and use of professional and academic information (including research articles published in journals, about which more detailed feedback was obtained).
• Information was generally ranked as a relatively important success factor for each sector, ranging from 4th out of 16 for governmental & research institutes to 9th out of 14 for large companies.
• Asked to pick which factors were a barrier to success, access to information was ranked 13th out of 16 for universities/colleges, 9th out of 15 for hospitals & medical schools, and 4th out of 15 for SMEs.
• Of all information types covered in the survey, original research articles in journals were consistently ranked amongst the most important across all sectors.
• Original research articles in journals were seen as easy to access by 85% of those who rated information as important. This ranged from 94% for universities/colleges and 78% for hospitals & medical schools to 71% for SMEs.
• Two-thirds of the respondents indicated that access to research articles had become easier over the last 5 years. Access had improved most for university & college respondents (75% agreed) followed by hospitals & medical schools (71%), governmental & research institutes (70%), large companies (62%) and SMEs (60%).
• The proportion of respondents who had recently had difficulty getting access to at least one research article ranged from 24% (universities & colleges) to 55% (SMEs). However, the study estimated that this only represented 4-10% (lower estimate) or 10-20% (higher estimate) of all articles read in 12 months.
• Of those who said that they had recently experienced problems accessing an article, the main reported difficulty was the requirement for payment, followed by technical problems associated with online payment, and problems associated with finding the article online or in the library.