CLIPP: Information for Authors

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Table of Contents

Appendix A: CLIPP Population
Appendix B: CLIPP Standard Questions
Appendix C: Sample Cover Letter for Online Survey

I. Introduction: General Description and Purpose   

The CLIPP (College Library Information on Policy and Practice) series is published by the College Libraries Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries. Each CLIPP includes three components: (1) review of the literature; (2) analysis of information gathered from surveys completed by a statistically valid sample of libraries; and (3) samples of documents (e.g., policies, procedures) pertinent to the particular CLIPP topic. The literature review and survey data and analysis identify and describe best practices in college and small university libraries, while the documents provide examples to those libraries developing policies and "flesh out" the survey results with specific examples of current practice.

The CLIPP series allows small and midsized academic libraries to share information on practices and procedures they have implemented to address common issues or problems. It thus provides valuable assistance in establishing and refining services and operations. For background on this series, see Grady Morein's "What is a CLIP Note?" College and Research Libraries News 46 (May 1985): 226-229.

Publication of the CLIPP series is done under the editorial direction of the CLIP Notes Committee, a standing committee of the College Libraries Section of ACRL.

II. CLIPP Author Qualifications   

The CLIP Notes Committee welcomes volunteers interested in writing for the series. Potential authors should contact the CLIP Notes Committee chair listed on the CLS website. Anyone who wishes to be authorized to write a CLIPP should have knowledge and interests relevant to the subject of the proposed publication and some publication experience. At the time the proposal is approved, the author or, if there are multiple authors, at least one co-author must be employed at a college or small university as defined by the committee. For more information about this definition, see Appendix A.

III. Preliminary Proposal   

The first step toward publication is submission of an informal Preliminary Proposal to the chair of the CLIP Notes Committee. This Preliminary Proposal consists of:

  1. A description of the project, including a brief survey of the professional literature on the proposed topic;
  2. A pilot version of the survey; and
  3. A brief resume of the author(s), highlighting specific aspects of professional activity that indicate interest in the topic and professional writing experience/ability.

All proposals are reviewed as they are received. After consultation with the committee, the CLIP Notes Committee chair will respond directly to the Preliminary Proposal, recommending that a Formal Proposal be submitted or indicating that the project is not feasible within the parameters of the CLIPP publication program.

IV. Formal Proposal   

At the committee’s recommendation, the author should submit a Formal Proposal to the chair of the CLIP Notes Committee. The Formal Proposal should contain the following:

A. Statement of Purpose   . The statement should describe the need for and scope of the project and the anticipated benefits to small and midsized academic libraries.

B. Literature Review   . The American Psychological Association Publication Manual (6th ed., section 1.02) describes literature reviews as:

Critical evaluations of material that has already been published….  By organizing, integrating, and evaluating previously published material, authors of literature reviews consider the progress of research toward clarifying a problem. In a sense, literature reviews are tutorials in that authors:

  1. Define and clarify the problem
  2. Summarize previous investigations to inform the reader of the state of research
  3. Identify relations, contradictions, gaps, and inconsistencies in the literature
  4. Suggest the next step or steps in solving the problem

The analysis in a CLIPP literature review is one of the major value-added aspects of the publication. Authors should do a thorough search so they can speak authoritatively about current knowledge and practice. They should organize the material logically, avoiding a simple chronological recitation in favor of grouping studies thematically. A full bibliography of all sources is required.

Authors should see Annual Reviews, available in print or online in many libraries, for examples.

C. Draft of Survey Cover Letter   . The cover letter should clearly and briefly explain the project and emphasize that it will result in a CLIPP sponsored by the College Libraries Section of ACRL. It should also include the date by which responses are to be received. 

D. Draft of Questionnaire   . The draft of the survey questionnaire should include and/or take into account the following:

  • Size of the College and Small University Population. The CLIP Notes Committee uses the Carnegie Classification System to define the CLIPP population (See Appendix A).The questionnaire must be distributed to all institutions in the CLIPP population and the author must analyze a statistically significant sample of responses. In 2010, the population included 1235 colleges and small universities, which means that a minimum of 293 completed, useable surveys would be required for analysis. 
  • General Institutional Information. The Committee has developed a standard set of questions for soliciting general institutional information (See Appendix B). Additional general institutional questions may be included if appropriate to the topic of the proposed CLIPP.
  • Types of Questions. Specific, concise, and clearly stated questions that are meaningful to the respondents will result in the most valid and reliable data. Traditionally, CLIPP and CLIP Notes surveys have included a few questions that allow for open-ended responses and that elicit anecdotal information librarians find to be of value.
    Designing Surveys: A Guide to Decisions and Procedures by Ronald Czaja and Johnny Blair (2005) and Asking Questions by Seymour Sudman and Norman M. Bradburn (2004) are excellent sources on questionnaire design. Designing Effective Web Surveys by Mick P. Couper (2008) offers advice on designing for online administration.  
  • Length. To encourage the best possible return, the questionnaire should be as concise as possible. Most respondents will not complete a survey that takes them longer than 25 minutes. It is important to give respondents an estimate of how long the survey will take.
  • Document-gathering. The questionnaire should encourage the respondent to submit files or links to relevant documents. Whenever possible, background information for submitted documents should also be provided. This might include the dates of preparation and revision of the documents, and their distinctive features, history, purpose, and/or use.

E. Estimated Expenditures   . Authorized costs will be reimbursed by ACRL. The reimbursement process, which requires submission of receipts, may take several weeks. In some cases, authors may ask for an advance of funding. The CLIPP author’s time and labor are not reimbursable expenses.

Surveys may be conducted online or using printed questionnaires. The committee strongly recommends online surveys as they offer convenience for both respondents and researchers and they are considerably less expensive than paper surveys. Many institutions have site licenses for online survey software; authors are encouraged to check with their local IT departments. Several survey packages are available for free or at low cost on the web, averaging between $20/month to several hundred dollars for longer periods of time.

For print surveys, it is recommended that compilers use a mail service that allows use of bulk permit in order to reduce postage costs. Authors' libraries may also agree to contribute to the project in such ways as supplying duplicating services without seeking reimbursement. Most surveyed libraries will require one reminder, though some may require two. Cost of postage for reminders averages approximately one-third of the cost of the initial mailing. First reminders are typically sent by postcard. When survey response rates are low, second reminders will likely be necessary and may require sending another copy of the survey. 

Sample Expenditures

Online survey
Survey software $40 ($20/month for two months)

Print survey (Cost estimate based on 1235 surveys)
Postage $750
Duplication $100
Supplies (envelopes, etc.): $100

Acceptance of Formal Proposal
The CLIP Notes Committee reviews Formal Proposals as they are received and approves those that are deemed viable. They also recommend changes to improve the cover letter and survey. A CLIP Notes Committee member is assigned to serve as lead editor of the project and assumes the role of liaison between the author(s) and the CLIP Notes Committee.

V. The Survey   

After receiving project approval, the author should pilot test and finalize the survey, administer the survey, analyze the survey data, and identify best practice documents.

A. Pilot Survey   . The author should revise the questionnaire based on the initial comments and suggestions of the CLIP Notes Committee and new knowledge gained from the literature review. The author should then conduct a pilot survey of approximately five to ten institutions from the CLIP Notes survey population in order to identify possible problems with the questionnaire. (Institution names are available from the CLIP Notes chair.)

The purpose of the pilot survey is to test the questionnaire and solicit suggestions that would improve the wording of the questions to reduce ambiguity and confusion. This pilot survey should also help to determine the availability of documents.

B. Cover Letter and Questionnaire Revision   . Based on responses to the pilot survey, the author again revises the cover letter and the questionnaire. A revised cover letter and survey are sent to the lead editor, who distributes them to all committee members. When the letter and the questionnaire have been approved by the committee the author can administer the survey to the CLIPP population.

C. Survey Administration   . Once the cover letter and questionnaires have been approved, the lead editor will send the author(s) a spreadsheet containing the contact information for all libraries in the college and small university library population.

D. Required Number of Responses   . To ensure that the survey results are generalizable, the CLIP Notes Committee requires a sample size large enough to achieve a minimum confidence level of 95% (confidence interval ±5). This number will vary depending on the size of the college and small university population as defined by the Committee using the Carnegie Classification System (See Appendix A). In 2010, the Committee identified 1235 colleges and small universities; therefore, an author would need a minimum of 293 completed, useable surveys. The author should send reminders as necessary until the minimum number of responses have been received.

E. Data Analysis   . The high number of responses required for CLIPP surveys allows the author to claim with high probability that the findings reported are representative of all college and small university libraries in the United States of America. The analysis of the survey results should provide a narrative summary and should provide reasoned explanations about the meaning of the findings. This effort should not just be a simple description of the data, but should be appropriately analytical and should strive to identify important correlations and trends. The Practice of Social Research, 12th edition by Earl Babbie (2010) provides an excellent overview on the basics of analyzing and reporting survey research.

Authors must also include a copy of the questionnaire with the number of responses to each item. In reporting the number of responses to each question, the number of respondents who answered the particular question should be indicated each time. If the percentage of libraries choosing particular responses is indicated, the percentage of non-responses to the question should also be included, with the total percentage adding up to 100. For open ended or "other" responses to questions, the author should include selected responses.

F. Best Practices Documents   . The documents section should consist of a limited number of carefully selected documents that exemplify best practices relevant to the CLIPP topic. An executive summary that includes a brief description of each of the documents should precede the section, providing the reader with explanatory information relative to the contents.

To preserve validity and reliability, the author may not consider the practices of nonresponding libraries in the survey analysis. The author may, however, seek and publish (with permission) documents representing best practices by CLIPP libraries, even if those libraries did not respond to the survey. When acquiring permission, the author may encourage the library to respond to the survey.

Publication permission should be secured from the contributing libraries for all documents submitted for inclusion in the CLIPP. Wording for these permissions is included at the end of the standard questions in Appendix B.

VI. The CLIPP Manuscript   

A. First Draft   . A first draft of the manuscript should include the following:

  • Introduction. The CLIPP statement, which describes the purpose of the series, should be incorporated into the first paragraph of the introduction:

    The College Library Information on Policy and Practice (CLIPP) publishing program, under the auspices of the College Libraries Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries, provides college and small university libraries analysis and examples of library practices and procedures. This CLIPP provides information on [insert topic here].
  • Literature Review and Bibliography. A final search of the relevant literature should be conducted at this stage to ensure that any recent publications on the topic are included.
  • Analysis and Discussion of Survey Results.
  • Actual Questionnaire with Results.
  • Best Practices Documents.

Recent CLIPPs and CLIP Notes may be consulted for examples.

For ease of reference, all pages of the initial and revised drafts and the final manuscript should be numbered.

Authors are strongly encouraged to enlist the services of writing consultants on their campuses before submitting the first draft to the lead editor. Many writing errors and awkward constructions can be caught at this stage, saving authors embarrassment and lead editors needless work.

The author will send an electronic copy of the first draft to the lead editor, who will do a preliminary edit before distributing it to the other CLIP Notes committee members. The lead editor will collate all comments and corrections from committee members for the author. 

B. Second and Subsequent Drafts   . The author will submit a second, corrected draft of the CLIPP to the lead editor. The lead editor and the chair of the CLIP Notes committee will make further recommendations and request corrections until they deem the manuscript is ready to go back to the committee for final approval.

C. Final Manuscript Preparation and Approval   . The final draft of the manuscript will normally consist of the following parts, which, with the exception of the title-page verso with copyright statement, are to be prepared by the author:

  1. Title Page
  2. Verso with Copyright Statement (supplied by ACRL)
  3. Table of Contents
  4. List of CLIP Notes Committee members and institutional affiliations (available online). The lead editor should be acknowledged here.
  5. Introduction
  6. Literature Review and Bibliography
  7. Analysis of Survey Results
  8. Actual Survey with Results
  9. Best Practices Documents

Format Expectations
Print versions of CLIPPs are 8 1/2 x 11 inches. When preparing the camera-ready copy, the author should allow 1-inch margins for all outer margins (i.e., right margins for right-hand pages; left margins for left-hand pages) and 1 1/4-inch margins for all inner margins to allow for binding. Both left and right margins should be justified.

Typeface: While no one typeface is mandatory, the typeface must be consistent, clear, and legible. The size of the typeface should be 12-point. Recommended typefaces are Times New Roman, Arial, or Palatino.

Page Numbering: Pages preceding the introduction and analysis (CLIPP statement; table of contents) should be numbered using Roman numerals. All succeeding pages (Introduction; literature review and bibliography; analysis of survey results; actual survey results, documents) should be continuously paginated using Arabic numerals. Usually there are section breaks included in the manuscript. For printed books, these section breaks need to always appear on the right hand side and be followed by a blank page (for the back of the section break page). Blank pages should be added to accommodate this and section headers and footers arranged accordingly.

Headers and Footers: All pages will have footers, indicating the section and the page number. The page number will always appear on the outside edge of the page, preceded or followed by the section designation as appropriate. In other words, for even-numbered (left-hand) pages, the page number will be to the left of the section name; for odd-numbered (right-hand) pages, the page number will be to the right of the section name.

Each page of the document section should also have a header, identifying the institution that has submitted the document. This is particularly important since the name of the responsible institution is not always clear on documents and also may only appear on the first page of a multi-page document. All headers and footers should be in bold typeface and in a larger font size than the text, if possible.

Illustrations and Photographs: Illustrations, and occasionally photographs, can be included in a CLIPP. Images should be submitted as high resolution .tiff files with a resolution of 300 dpi. The images should have captions and their desired placement should be noted in the text. Tables created in Excel may be inserted in their original state.

Final Approval
When the manuscript has received final approval from the CLIP Notes committee, it is sent to the ACRL Content Strategist.

D. Copyright   . The American Library Association ultimately holds copyright on all CLIPPs. Thus, authors will be expected to sign a Memorandum of Agreement prior to final publication of the CLIPP.

E. Reimbursement of Expenses   . After the project is complete, the author submits an expense sheet and receipts to the CLIP Notes Committee chair, who must approve said expenditures. The chair signs and dates the expense sheet and submits it, along with the receipts, to the ACRL Content Strategist, who sees that a check reimbursing the expenditures is issued to the author.  There is no standard form for expense sheets.

VII. Cancellation of Project   

The CLIP Notes Committee monitors the progress of each CLIPP and may cancel any that it deems no longer feasible. If either the author or the committee terminates the CLIPP process, any intellectual property created belongs to the author. All authorized expenses incurred by the author will be reimbursed by ACRL. A copy of the cancellation notice should accompany any receipts submitted for reimbursement.

Appendix A:  CLIPP Population   

The CLIP Notes Committee uses the 2005 revision of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education to define the population of college and small universities in the United States of America. For more information about the Carnegie Classification see

In order to be included in the CLIPP survey population, an institution must fall into one of the subcategories specified below in each of the following four Carnegie categories: Basic, Enrollment Profile, Undergraduate Instructional Program, and Size and Setting. This multi-tiered approach allows the committee to define the survey population as broadly as possible. 

Basic Classification Subcategories
1. Baccalaureate Colleges

  1. Baccalaureate Colleges—Arts & Sciences
  2. Baccalaureate Colleges—Diverse Fields
  3. Baccalaureate/Associate’s Colleges

2. Master’s Colleges & Universities

  1. Smaller Programs (50-99 Master’s degrees awarded per year)
  2. Medium Programs (100-199 degrees)
  3. Larger Programs (200+ degrees)

Enrollment Profile Classification Subcategories
1. Exclusively Undergraduate Four-Year
2. Very High Undergraduate (Grad/Prof Students less than 10% of FTE)
3. High Undergraduate (Grad/Prof students 10-24% of FTE)
4. Majority Undergraduate (Grad/Prof students 25-49% of FTE)

Undergraduate Instructional Program Classification Subcategories
1. Arts & Sciences Focus (including all levels of graduate coexistence)
2. Arts & Sciences Plus Professions (including all levels of graduate coexistence)
3. Balanced Arts & Sciences/Professions (including all levels of graduate coexistence)
4. Professions Plus Arts & Sciences (including all levels of graduate coexistence)
5. Professions Focus (including all levels of graduate coexistence)

Size and Setting Classification Subcategories
1. Very small four-year, primarily nonresidential (Fewer than 1,000)
2. Very small four-year, primarily residential (Fewer than 1,000)
3. Very small four-year, highly residential (Fewer than 1,000)
4. Small four-year, primarily nonresidential (1,000-2,999)
5. Small four-year, primarily residential (1,000-2,999)
6. Small four-year, highly residential (1,000-2,999)
7. Medium four-year, primarily nonresidential (3,000-9,999)
8. Medium four-year, primarily residential (3,000-9,999)
9. Medium four-year, highly residential (3,000-9,999)

The committee will omit institutions from the resulting population for the following reasons:

  • The institution does not have a library
  • The institution does not employ librarians
  • The institution is in a location where English is not the primary language

The committee will use the Carnegie “Custom Listings” tool to re-generate the survey population each time the Carnegie updates its database to account for changes in institutional status. At the time these Guidelines were written, there were 1235 institutions in the CLIPP population.

Appendix B:  CLIPP Standard Questions   

Each survey should request the following information:
Respondent information: (beginning of survey)
Institution name:
Name of respondent:
Work telephone number:
E-mail address:
Fax number:

Institutional Information:
Carnegie Classification:
__ Bac/A&S: Baccalaureate Colleges—Arts & Sciences
__ Bac/Diverse: Baccalaureate Colleges—Diverse Fields
__ Bac/Assoc: Baccalaureate/Associate’s Colleges
__ Master’s/S: Master’s Colleges and Universities (smaller programs)
__ Master’s/M: Master’s Colleges and Universities (medium programs)
__ Master’s/L:  Master’s Colleges and Universities (larger programs)

Public ____    Private ____   

FTE Students: ___________

FTE Faculty:  ___________

FTE Librarians:  _________

FTE Library Support Staff: _______

Request for documentation:  (at the end of survey)
Please enclose or attach samples of your library’s policies, guidelines, mission statements, URLs or other documentation related to __(topic)__ that you think would be helpful to other libraries, and can be included in the CLIPP publication. Thank you.

Please check below if sample documents can be published in a CLIP Note publication
___  I give permission to publish any document I send with this completed survey in a CLIP Note publication
___ A copyright statement is required to publish any document I send with this completed survey in a CLIP Note publication. 

Appendix C: Sample Cover Letter for Online Survey   


TO: College and Small University Library Directors

Doreen Kopycinski
Lehigh University
E.W. Fairchild-Martindale Library
8A Packer Avenue
Bethlehem, PA  18015

Kim Sando
DeSales University
Trexler Library
2755 Station Ave
Center Valley, PA   18034

RE: A CLIPP Survey

The College Libraries Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries publishes CLIPP, a compilation of practical information collected from college and small university libraries to benefit those considering their own policies and procedures of a particular topic. You are receiving this survey for the writing of the second edition of User Surveys in College Libraries. We appreciate your willingness to participate.

The following survey should take approximately 10-20 minutes to complete.

If you have administered user surveys in the last five years, we would like to have a copy of them for inclusion in this upcoming CLIPP.  Please either send an electronic copy (attach a document, refer to a URL, etc.) by email to or or send a print copy to __________________.

If you have NOT administered a user survey in the last five years, we would still like to hear your feedback by completing this survey.

Thank you for your consideration of this survey—your participation is essential to the success of the CLIPP program.

PLEASE RESPOND BY _________________. 

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Last Update: 18 October 2011
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