Web Magazine for Information Professionals


Julia A. Rudy, Cause/Effect Editor and Director of Publications at CAUSE, an international, nonprofit professional association for managers and users of information resources on college and university campuses, describes CAUSE/EFFECT.

Campus executives are beginning to look to information technology as a means to address many of the difficult challenges facing our colleges and universities today. Electronic information resources have become a key strategic resource of the institution in a far broader sense than bibliographic indexes, data processing, or administrative information systems. As articles in CAUSE/EFFECT and other professional publications show, there is growing synergy among the many departments on campus that handle various aspects of the creation, maintenance, and dissemination of information through digital technologies: library/information services, administrative computing, academic computing, networking (voice, data and video) services, distance and continuing education, instructional media, and university presses.

New Professional Challenges

Increasingly, information professionals in higher education are focusing on the ability to facilitate access to information itself throughout the campus, with little if any concern as to whether this is academic or administrative in nature. This is a much broader view of the function of electronic resources on campus, encompassing the technology (conduit), the information (content), and the services which link both of those elements with users at all levels, through help desks, applications development, training, and a host of other functions.

From this perspective, the information resource is surely one of the most precious assets of colleges and universities. And that information resource includes everything from the growing global digital library of networked information, accessed by scholars--faculty, researchers, students-- from their desktops, to administrative databases and the content of campus-wide information systems, increasingly indispensable to everyone in our own institutional communities. It is all this and more, and our concept of the breadth of this resource is growing almost on a daily basis.

Information resources managers are trying to deal with hybrid environments, and our historical compartmentalized traditions don't work any longer. We are all engaged in trying to foresee the future and prepare for it, while managing current realities of existing hardware, software, staff, and budget infrastructures. This is equally true for CAUSE as an association and the issues we address through our services and publications, especially CAUSE/EFFECT. While the journal's history lies in administrative information systems management, in the past decade our readers and our members have begun to oversee a plethora of functions that now fall into the purview of "information technology" or "digital resources" on campus. As an association, we find ourselves seeking an ever-wider variety of papers and articles to publish in our journal and include in our Information Resources Library, recognizing the broader "playing field" on which information resources managers interact today.

CAUSE/EFFECT: A Practioners' Journal

The flagship publication of CAUSE, CAUSE/EFFECT debuted in 1978 as a publication dedicated to managing administrative information systems in higher education. But today, the journal encompasses a much broader purview, reflecting the changing electronic information services environment (as described above). The journal is written by and for managers and users of information resources--information, technology, and services--on college and university campuses. Published in print four times a year (approximately in March, June, September, and December), journal articles are also made available on the CAUSE Web server in multiple electronic forms, including ascii text, PDF (Acrobat), and HTML with appropriate hypertext links (see http://www.cause.org/cause-effect/cause-effect.html, or mirrored in the U.K. at http://cause-www.niss.ac.uk/cause-effect/cause-effect.html).

The more than 4,400 CAUSE members and other subscribers who read and contribute to the journal are involved in many different aspects of managing information technology and other information resources. Their experience in the profession runs the gamut from those who are new to information management, to those who have many years of experience (more than half have been computing and/or information professionals for fifteen years or more).

Most of our readers are managers, with roughly three-quarters at the director level or above in their professional positions. Many have a background which includes computing, but current responsibilities, interests, and activities are often broader and more diverse. Frequently they are technical experts in one part of the field, while developing professional skills in other areas.

What We Publish

Papers submitted for publication are reviewed by an Editorial Committee who rate them, comment on their publishability, and make suggestions for revisions. Journal content is written primarily by members of the profession, not from an academic discipline perspective but from the perspective of the practitioner, i.e., the articles revolve around the campus management and planning issues of our profession rather than research or theory. Through the years, CAUSE's journal has contributed significantly to the development of a new area of professional literature and it is increasingly cited in more scholarly work.

Articles in CAUSE/EFFECT fall into several categories. Each issue of the journal contains a Campus Profile (an overview of the information resources environment--information, technology, and services--of a member institution) to promote a better understanding of how information resources are organized, managed, planned for, and used in colleges and universities of various sizes and types. Feature articles are in-depth articles that relate to the many issues of concern to information resources managers. Other types of articles include Current Issues (a brief overview and analysis of a timely issue facing the profession that puts the issue into perspective and offers insights and may propose solutions); Viewpoints (opinion pieces, usually with some controversial overtones); and Good Ideas (descriptions of exemplary applications or management techniques that have been successful on a campus and could be implemented by colleagues on other campuses). We also publish book reviews in the Recommended Reading department.

About 25 percent of the articles published in the journal are submitted "over the transom" (unsolicited, not invited), with about 65 percent solicited from conference presentations (either CAUSE-sponsored or others). Another 10 percent are invited or arise from other sources. Thus the "feature" content is highly reflective of current practice, while the department and column articles (which are generally solicited or invited) tend to deal with more "leading edge" issues.

Regardless of the kind of article submitted to the journal, contributors should recognize the underlying values that we seek in journal content:

  1. sharing campus strategies for approaching the management of information resources from the perspective of integration and coordination rather than separation; and
  2. promoting alliances between the library and information technology elements of the information resources professions to address key issues associated with new electronic access strategies.

Contributing to the Journal

The CAUSE Board of Directors adopted as a theme for 1997 "Enterprise- wide Leadership for Information Resources," and the association's Current Issues Committee has encouraged submission of journal articles in the following areas as being of high priority in the coming year:

CAUSE/EFFECT contributors are encouraged to submit articles addressing these and other topics for review by the CAUSE Editorial Committee. Publication guidelines and submission details may be found on the CAUSE World Wide Web site at http://www.cause.org/cause-effect/ce-pub-guide.html, or mirrored in the U.K. at http://cause-www.niss.ac.uk/cause-effect/ce-pub-guide.html



Testimonial quotes:

"I first became involved in CAUSE as an academic library director over ten years ago. Their conferences and publications became the best way for me to put into context the technological development of information services on my campus. CAUSE/EFFECT provided me and my staff with thought-provoking and educational opportunities that stretched our thinking and goals. Since I started teaching, CAUSE/EFFECT and CAUSE's other publications (for example, documents from their Information Resources Library and the CAUSE Professional Paper Series) are required reading for my students -- as they should be for practicing librarians anywhere."
Anne Woodsworth
Dean, Palmer School
Long Island University/CW Post Campus


"CAUSE is the preeminent American association for information technology professionals in higher education. Managing human and information resources is the theme which defines the essence of CAUSE. CAUSE sponsors stimulating annual conferences, produces a first-rate periodical, and publishes a distinguished series of special studies. Libraries are recognized as vital information partners within the CAUSE framework. In this age of digital libraries, information transfer, and integrated systems, libraries cannot reach optimum levels of performance without a comprehensive exposure to the principles and practices of information technology. Libraries have always embraced a great CAUSE, and this one is surely no exception."
Arthur P. Young
Director of University Libraries
Northern Illinois University


This article includes content from an article published in CAUSE/EFFECT in Fall 1994, "Information Resources: Technology, Services, and Information," by Jane N. Ryland, CAUSE President. Full text of that article is available by sending e-mail to search@cause.colorado.edu including the message: get cem943president.

Special thanks to Elizabeth Harris, Managing Editor of CAUSE/EFFECT, for her contributions to this article, and to Jeff Hansen for online production.