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Want a good grade?

15th September 2016

Want a good grade?

Research shows the library can help

The library can help

Many people would agree if asked that libraries are part of academic success at university, but it can be hard to show this. In 2012, Jisc funded the Library Impact Data Project to investigate how libraries contribute to degree results. The project set out to find out if there really is a relationship between library use and student achievement.

Using data from over 33,000 students across 8 UK universities, researchers found a statistically significant relationship between use of library resources and degree results. Students who achieved Firsts used on average nearly twice as many library resources as those with a Third class degree. Notably, it wasn’t library visits themselves that made the difference; results were measured by looking at book borrowing and e-resource access (see this article in the Times Higher about tracking library use for more.)

Correlation doesn’t equal causation, and we don’t want to claim library use alone leads to good results, as much of that will be down to each student’s hard work and drive. But there’s more to suggest that the library & librarians can improve your chances of academic success. Research by our own Education Liaison Librarian, Sarah Purcell, in collaboration with Rachel Barrell from the Primary Education team, has further shown that embedding information literacy skills into courses had a positive impact on student confidence with referencing and other academic research skills.

The lesson is clear: to maximise success at university, make sure the library is part of the experience. Find your librarian now.


Goodall, D. and Pattern, D. (2011) ‘Academic library non/low use and undergraduate student achievement: A preliminary report of research in progress’,  Library Management, 32(3), pp.159–170. doi:10.1108/01435121111112871

Purcell, S. and Barrell, R. (2014) ‘The value of collaboration: raising confidence and skills in information literacy with first year Initial Teacher Education students’, Journal of Information Literacy, 8(2), pp.56–70. doi:10.11645/8.2.1917

Stone, G. and Ramsden, B. (2013) ‘Library Impact Data Project: looking for the link between library usage and student attainment’, College and Research Libraries, 74(6), pp. 546-559. Available at: (Accessed: 1 September 2016).


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