CLIPP: Information for Authors

Table of Contents

I. Introduction: General Description and Purpose
II. Author Qualifications
III. Preliminary Proposal
IV. Formal Proposal

A. Statement of Purpose
B. Literature Review
C. Draft of Survey Cover Letter
D. Draft of Questionnaire
E. Estimated Expenditures

V. The Survey

A. Pilot Survey
B. Cover Letter and Survey Revision
C. Survey Administration
D. Recommended Number of Responses
E. Data Analysis
F. Sample Documents

VI. The CLIPP Manuscript

A. First Draft
B. Second and Subsequent Drafts
C. Final Manuscript Preparation and Approval
D. Copyright
E. Reimbursement of Expenses
F. Royalties

VII. Cancellation of Project

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

I. Introduction: General Description and Purpose   

The ACRL/CLS CLIPP (College Library Information on Policy and Practice) series helps staff at small and midsized academic libraries get up-to-date, practical information on common professional issues, problems, or trends. CLIPPs provides valuable assistance in establishing and refining services and operations. Each CLIPP focuses on a different topic and includes three components: (1) a literature review; (2) survey results and analysis; and (3) sample documents (e.g., policies and procedures) pertinent to the particular CLIPP topic. The literature review and survey analysis sections identify and describe trends and best practices in college and small university libraries, while the sample documents provide concrete examples for those working to develop similar policies or practices. The CLIPP Committee, an ACRL/CLS standing committee, provides editorial direction and manages publishing the CLIPP series.

II. CLIPP Author Qualifications   

The CLIPP Committee welcomes questions and preliminary proposal submissions throughout the year. Potential authors should have knowledge and interests relevant to the topic of their proposed publication and some publication experience, and can contact the CLIPP Committee chair directly to submit a preliminary proposal (see current committee roster here). At the time a 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 CLIPP Committee (see Appendix A for definition details).

III. Preliminary Proposal   

The first step toward publication is submission of an informal Preliminary Proposal to the chair of the CLIPP 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.

The CLIPP Committee reviews proposals throughout the year as they come in. Following Committee review, the chair contacts authors to let them know if their proposals fit within the CLIPP series scope and parameters. If the proposal is a good fit, authors are invited to submit a Formal Proposal.

IV. Formal Proposal   

At the committee’s recommendation, the author should submit a Formal Proposal to the chair of the CLIPP Committee. The CLIPP Committee reviews proposals and may recommend changes to improve the cover letter and survey. If a Formal Proposal is approved, CLIPP Committee members are assigned to serve as lead and secondary editors for each project; they serve as liaisons between the author and the CLIPP 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 detailed analysis in a CLIPP literature review is one of the major value-added aspects of the publication. 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:

  • define and clarify the problem;
  • summarize previous investigations to inform the reader of the state of research;
  • identify relations, contradictions, gaps, and inconsistencies in the literature; and
  • suggest the next step or steps in solving the problem.” (p. 10)

Authors should conduct a thorough literature review 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 may consult Annual Reviews, available in print or online, 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 an ACRL/CLS CLIPP publication. 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 or take into account the following:

  • Size of the College and Small University Population. The CLIPP Committee uses the Carnegie Classification System to define the CLIPP survey population (See Appendix A).The questionnaire must be distributed to all institutions in the CLIPP survey population. The CLIPP Committee recommends that authors analyze a statistically significant sample of responses. In 2017, the survey population included 1091 colleges and small universities, which means that a minimum of 285 completed, useable surveys would be ideal.  
  • 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. CLIPP surveys can also include a few questions that allow for open-ended responses and that elicit qualitative or anecdotal information librarians find to be of value.
  • Survey Design Resources. Survey Research Methods by Floyd J. Fowler (2014, 5th ed.), Designing Surveys: A Guide to Decisions and Procedures by Ronald Czaja and Johnny Blair (2014, 3rd ed.), and Asking Questions by Seymour Sudman and Norman M. Bradburn (2004, 2nd ed.) are excellent sources on questionnaire design. Designing Effective Web Surveys by Mick P. Couper (2008) offers advice on designing surveys 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.
  • Sample Document Gathering. The questionnaire should encourage respondents 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, and authors are expected to provide a brief list of estimated expenditures within the formal proposal. This could be something as basic as “Estimated expenditures: online survey software $40 ($20/month for two months).”

Please note that the actual reimbursement process, which requires submission of receipts, may take several weeks. In some cases, CLIPP 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 online.

V. The Survey   

After a Formal Proposal is approved, 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 survey instrument based on the initial comments and suggestions of the CLIPP 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 CLIPP survey population in order to identify possible problems with the questionnaire. The project’s lead or secondary editor from the CLIPP Committee will provide the author with the contact information for the pilot survey population.

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

B. Cover Letter and Survey Revision. Based on responses to the pilot survey, the author further revise the cover letter and survey instrument. A revised cover letter and survey are then sent to the lead editor, who distributes them to all CLIPP Committee members. When the cover letter and the survey have been approved by the committee the author can then administer the survey to the full CLIPP survey population.

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

D. Recommended Number of Responses. The CLIPP Committee recommends a sample size large enough to achieve a minimum confidence level of 95% (confidence interval ±5) so that survey results are generalizable. This number of responses will vary depending on the size of the college and small university survey population as identified by the Committee; in 2017, the Committee identified 1091 survey recipients, so an author would need a minimum of 285 completed, useable surveys. The author, in communication with their lead and secondary editors, may extend their survey dates and send reminders as needed. However, the Committee also recognizes that obtaining this many responses may not always be feasible. In cases where authors do not reach a generalizable number of responses, we expect authors to identify what their confidence level is, and if it isn't the 95% standard, briefly explain what that means within their CLIPP publication.

E. Data Analysis. The analysis of the survey results provides a narrative summary and reasoned explanations about the meaning of the findings. The survey analysis section is not just a simple description of the data; the author’s detailed analysis should identify important correlations and trends. Earl Babbie’s The Practice of Social Research (2013, 13th ed.) provides an excellent overview on the basics of analyzing and reporting survey research.

Authors must also include a copy of the survey 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. Sample Documents. The sample 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.

The author may not consider the practices of nonresponding libraries in the earlier survey analysis section. 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. Recent CLIPPs and older CLIP Notes may be consulted as examples, but 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 recent publications on the topic are included.
  • Analysis and Discussion of Survey Results.
  • Actual Survey with Results.
  • Best Practices Documents.
  • Pagination. 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 with the secondary editor before distributing it to the rest of the CLIPP Committee. 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, secondary editor, and the chair of the CLIPP 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 are to be prepared by the author (with the exception of the title page verso with copyright statement):

  1. Title Page
  2. Verso with Copyright Statement (supplied by ACRL)
  3. Table of Contents
  4. List of CLIPP Committee members and institutional affiliations (available online). The lead editor and secondary 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
These expectations are holdovers from the older print CLIP Notes series; authors should check with their lead and secondary editors to make sure that these expectations are still up-to-date as the Committee develops and refines the newer CLIPP series.

  • Margins: 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, as well as section headers and footers arranged accordingly.
  • 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.
  • Headers: 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.
  • Tables, Images, and Screenshots: Tables, illustrations, photographs, and screenshots 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 CLIPP 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 CLIPP 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.

F. Royalties. CLIPP authors receive 10% royalties on the net revenues from their publication.

VII. Cancellation of Project   

The CLIPP 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 CLIPP 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

a.                Baccalaureate Colleges—Arts & Sciences

b.                Baccalaureate Colleges—Diverse Fields

c.                Baccalaureate/Associate’s Colleges

2. Master’s Colleges & Universities

a.                Smaller Programs (50-99 Master’s degrees awarded per year)

b.                Medium Programs (100-199 degrees)

c.                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 regenerate 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:

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:

Number of Librarians:

Number of 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 CLIPP publication.
___  I give permission to publish any document I send with this completed survey in a CLIPP publication
___ A copyright statement is required to publish any document I send with this completed survey in a CLIPP 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

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 send an electronic copy (attach a document, refer to a URL, etc.) by email to [email address] .

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 [date survey closes].