Scholarly Communications

23
Oct13

IRis, Northeastern’s Digital Archive, Reaches Milestone: 1 Million Downloads!

Posted by: Hillary Corbett

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When the Northeastern University Libraries launched IRis in 2006, the idea of an “institutional repository” was still fairly new. Universities were starting repositories to share their intellectual and administrative output – faculty-authored articles, dissertations and theses, student-run publications, university-created reports, and other documents. Seven years later, many more colleges and universities around the world have digital repositories of open access materials created by their faculty, students, and staff. These repositories often also host open-access journals and other publications – at Northeastern, IRis has hosted the Annals of Environmental Science since 2007, and also provides access to faculty-authored and -edited books.

IRis began with only a few collections in 2006, but has grown exponentially since then. Today, IRis contains over 6,000 items, and as of Tuesday, October 15, 2013, these items have been downloaded one million times!

Although it’s not possible to determine which one item received the lucky one-millionth download, we know that on that day, 649 items were downloaded 1147 times. Here’s a breakdown of the types of materials downloaded that day:

Here are top downloads in each category, for October 15, 2013:

As you can see, slightly more than half of the items downloaded were dissertations or master’s theses. An important contributor to the growth of IRis has been the university’s transition to an Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) program in the 2007-2008 academic year – instead of depositing print copies of dissertations and master’s theses in the library’s archives, graduate students now submit their ETDs to ProQuest and an open-access copy is made available through IRis. Both undergraduate and graduate research output is very popular in IRis – in fact, almost every month our most highly accessed collection is the Honors Junior/Senior Projects!

In the coming months, we will be expanding on the success of IRis with DRS – Northeastern University’s Digital Repository Service. The DRS will offer even more functionality for users and depositors, such as more flexible sharing options, the ability to manage permissions, and options for curated and noncurated collections.

Posted in: Library News and Events, Research Online, Scholarly Communications, Serendipity

18
Oct13

Northeastern Celebrates Open Access Week: October 21-27, 2013

Posted by: Hillary Corbett

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The seventh annual International Open Access Week is upon us!

What is Open Access?

“Open Access to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole.

Open Access (OA) has the potential to maximize research investments, increase the exposure and use of published research, facilitate the ability to conduct research across available literature, and enhance the overall advancement of scholarship. Research funding agencies, academic institutions, researchers and scientists, teachers, students, and members of the general public are supporting a move towards Open Access in increasing numbers every year.”

SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition

Snell Library has several events planned to celebrate:

Monday, October 21
3:00-4:30
DMC Circle 2 (blue)

SPARC/World Bank Webcast

Panelists representing a diverse set of stakeholders – scientific researchers, publishers, technologists and policy makers – will examine the potential positive impacts that can result when research results are shared freely in the digital environment. The panel, moderated by SPARC Executive Director Heather Joseph, will feature:

  • Stefano Bertuzzi, Executive Director of the American Society for Cell Biology
  • Brett Bobley, Chief Information Ocer for the National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Scholarly Communication of the Modern Language Association
  • Michael Stebbins, Assistant Director for Biotechnology in the Science Division of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy
  • Cameron Neylon, Advocacy Director for Public Library of Science

Tuesday, October 22
3:00-4:00
421 SL

Panel Discussion: Open Access in the Digital Humanities

Faculty members Ryan Cordell, Ben Schmidt, and Julia Flanders will lead a discussion on the impact of open access on humanities research and publishing, leading off with some examples from their own work in digital humanities:

Ryan Cordell will talk about “Building With/Building On” and his use of open-access data from the Newberry Library’s Atlas of Historical County Boundaries, William G. Thomas’s “Railroads and the Making of Modern America,” and David Rumsey’s celebrated map collection.

Ben Schmidt will talk about the process of working in public through open-access research methods and publications like the Journal of Digital Humanities, and will also offer perspectives on open-source and open-access approaches to code and software development that might provide models for the humanities.

Julia Flanders will talk about the tools and methods that underlie Digital Humanities Quarterly, an open-access digital journal now housed at Northeastern University.


Wednesday, October 23
12:00-5:00
90 SL

Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon

Join us to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of under-represented groups in local Boston history. This hack-a-thon style drop-in session will focus on editing and updating Wikipedia pages in a group setting. Bring a laptop and a power supply, and go on a tour of Northeastern’s archives and special collections. More information available here.


And on Friday, October 25, Snell Library will be playing host to several of the DPLAfest’s open workshops – see the full schedule here.

All Open Access Week events are open to the public (photo ID required to enter Snell Library) and refreshments will be served.

Posted in: Library News and Events, Scholarly Communications

25
Feb13

White House Announces Wide-Reaching Open Access Policy

Posted by: Hillary Corbett

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On Friday afternoon, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a memorandum containing some pretty big news (PDF): all federal agencies with annual research or development expenditures over $100 million must develop policies that will ensure public access to the results of the research activity that they fund.

The White House has twice previously invited comments on the topic of open access to federally funded research, and in May 2012 an online “We the People” petition gathered in only two weeks the 25,000 signatures required to get a response from the Obama administration (the petition currently has over 65,000 signatures). John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor and director of the OSTP, issued that response on Friday, linking to the memorandum prepared by his office and saying, “The Obama Administration agrees that citizens deserve easy access to the results of research their tax dollars have paid for… [and] is committed to ensuring that the results of federally-funded scientific research are made available to and useful for the public, industry, and the scientific community.”

You may have heard about the recently proposed Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act, aka “FASTR.” It’s the successor to the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) legislation that was first proposed in 2006 but has never been voted on by Congress. FASTR, if it passes Congress, would legislate open access to federally funded research, but given the length of time FRPAA languished, that’s certainly not guaranteed to happen quickly. However, the OSTP memorandum directs these federal agencies to start preparing their access policies immediately, with a deadline of six months for implementation.

What does this mean for researchers?

If you receive research funding from one of the federal agencies covered by this directive*, your published articles and, in some cases, research data will need to be submitted to an open access repository within 12 months of publication. While it’s too early yet to know the specifics of how each agency will choose to comply with the directive and at what moment their policies will go into effect, it’s not a stretch to assume that the new policies will probably look a lot like the NIH’s Public Access Policy, implemented in 2008, which requires funding recipients to deposit their articles in PubMedCentral. (In many cases publishers assist with the deposit process. You can read more about the NIH policy on our website.) As a result, your research results will reach a vastly wider audience, including all American taxpayers.

*An incomplete list of these agencies from John Wilbanks includes: the Environmental Protection Agency; NASA; the National Science Foundation; the Smithsonian Institution; and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, the Interior, State, and Transportation. It isn’t yet clear whether the National Endowment for the Humanities is included. I’ll update this post when more information is available.

Further reading:

 

Posted in: Scholarly Communications

26
Sep12

Open Access Week 2012 is coming!

Posted by: Hillary Corbett

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In just a few weeks, we’ll be celebrating the sixth annual international Open Access Week, held this year October 22-26, 2012. As in previous years, we’re planning events and displays that will highlight the importance of sharing information freely, without restrictions like subscription costs.

Keynote Event: Breakfast with David Weinberger

Noted author and speaker David Weinberger will join us to celebrate Open Access Week on Thursday, October 25. David is a senior researcher at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for the Internet and Society, where he writes about networking knowledge and the effect of technology on ideas, business and society. He is the author of Too Big to Know, Small Pieces Loosely Joined, Everything Is Miscellaneous, and a coauthor of The Cluetrain Manifesto. This event is open to all – please click here for further details.

Photo by Allan Shedlock

Stay tuned for announcements of other Open Access Week events, including an opportunity to meet with representatives of open access journal publishers!

What is Open Access?

“Open Access to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole.

Open Access (OA) has the potential to maximize research investments, increase the exposure and use of published research, facilitate the ability to conduct research across available literature, and enhance the overall advancement of scholarship. Research funding agencies, academic institutions, researchers and scientists, teachers, students, and members of the general public are supporting a move towards Open Access in increasing numbers every year.”

SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition

 Check out my other blog posts about Open Access!

Posted in: Library News and Events, Scholarly Communications

6
Sep12

Affordable Textbooks 2012…Now, With Even More Options! [Updated]

Posted by: Hillary Corbett

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It’s been two years since I last posted about textbooks, and with classes starting this week, I thought it was a good time to write an update to that post. Since then, a few things have changed.

First, the Bad News…

The cost of textbooks just keeps going up. The New York Times article from October 2009 that I cited in my previous post estimated that college students spent, on average, between $700 and $1,000 each year on textbooks. Fast forward to August 2012… the Wall Street Journal just reported that the average student’s textbook bill is now up to $1,213 a year.

(Of course, you can always try selling a purchased textbook back to the bookstore at the end of the term, but, having stood in the buyback line myself recently, I know as well as you do that it’s not exactly a money-making opportunity – if you’re able to sell it back at all, that is. Textbook editions change so frequently that the copy you just bought may well be worthless in only a few months.)

Okay, How About Some Good News?

There now are more alternatives to paying the full amount for a new, hardcover textbook. Textbook rental programs have really taken off in the past couple of years – the NU bookstore has been offering a rental program since Fall 2010, with both print and e-textbooks available for rental. If you’re taking ENGL 1102 this semester, for example, you can choose between buying a new or used copy of Ways of Reading, or rent a copy for about half the cost of buying a new one. Rental can be a good option when you can’t picture yourself referring back to your dogeared copy after you’re done with the course. Online rental companies are also popular – Chegg has been around for a while, and Amazon just got into the textbook rental market, too (although at least one blogger found their selection a bit “skimpy”).

It seems like we’ve been hearing a lot about e-textbooks for a long time now, but the iPad has really helped that market take off in the last year. More publishers are working to convert their traditional textbooks into iPad apps, which allow for interactivity in ways that an e-book on, say, a Kindle doesn’t offer. It looks like publishers are realizing that an e-textbook can be much more than a PDF.

“Open” textbooks are also gaining traction, as more faculty choose to adopt them for their courses. Publishers like Flat World Knowledge and Boundless offer online learning materials that are free or available for purchase on a sliding scale. Individual faculty are creating open educational resources (OERs) as well – here at Northeastern, Dr. Albert-László Barabási’s network science course website offers a great example of how OERs can be much more than static texts.

What’s the Bottom Line?

This is a great time to start investigating alternatives to traditional printed textbooks – and as you can see, there are lots of options. Faculty – I encourage you to “think outside the shrinkwrap,” if you’re not already doing so. Students – investigate options and talk to your instructors. Let them know that you want to see textbooks become more affordable. And, if nothing else, ask them to put a desk copy of the textbook on reserve at the library!

Update, 9/10/12: If you’re interested in learning about new developments in this area, I maintain an up-to-date list of links to news stories and blog posts on Delicious (also available as an RSS feed).

 

Posted in: Scholarly Communications