Digital Scholarship @ The Libraries

Inspiring innovative digital scholarship at the OSU Libraries and beyond

OSU Libraries widens access to journal publishing services

Starting in May, the Libraries Publishing Program will widen access to our journal publishing services by expanding our eligibility criteria for publishing partnerships. We will now work with journals that do not have an editor based at OSU, as long as they are affiliated with a scholarly society and their application is sponsored by an OSU faculty member.  We are excited to make open access digital publishing a possibility for more journals, and to support the efforts of scholarly societies to nurture and provide access to research in their disciplines.

Rationale

Like many library-based publishing programs, our primary mission is to provide publishing services and education to our university community, so our policy to date has been to form new publishing partnerships only with journals that have an OSU-based editor. Unlike many library publishers, however, it has also been our practice to continue established publishing relationships, even when the original editor leaves OSU or passes the role on to a new editor. As a result, many of the journals we publish are currently edited by faculty at other universities.

At first glance, this seems like a mismatch between mission and practice, but it serves another facet of our mission: we provide open access scholarly publishing for research that would otherwise be hidden behind a paywall, and a home for quality scholarship that lacks the commercial potential to be of interest to other publishers. There is a need for this kind of service for many types of publications, but we see a particular need in the realm of journals published by scholarly societies. Many societies have traditionally relied on journal revenue to fund other activities (administration, annual conferences, etc.), but this has become increasingly difficult over the last couple of decades, as journal revenues have decreased and demand for openness has increased. They are often caught between their mission to promote scholarship in their field, and expensive legacy publishing processes. Many societies feel they have no option but to sell the rights to their journals to large commercial publishers. Library publishing operations like ours can offer an alternative by providing free or low-cost, digital-only, open access publishing.

How will it work?

To continue to grow our support in this area, while also maintaining our primary focus on serving the OSU community, we will begin accepting new publishing partnerships in the absence of an OSU-based editor, under the following circumstances:

Partnerships formed under our expanded criteria will be considered full Journal Publishing Partnerships, and will be eligible for the same support given to our other journals. Like all of our publishing services, there will be no fees charged to the journal or the society.

We are rolling out these expanded criteria immediately as a pilot program. We welcome referrals from other libraries, universities, and publishers. Please contact Sharon Sadvari (sadvari.2@osu.edu) with questions.

Staff position: Repository and Publishing Services Program Assistant

The Libraries’ fabulous Digital Content Services department is looking for a Program Assistant to support our repository and publishing programs. An excerpt from the job posting:

The Program Assistant performs production work for Digital Content Services across the repository and publishing programs on multiple simultaneous projects; production work includes submitting content, creating metadata, designing and documenting workflows, scheduling and supervising the production work of student assistants, and tracking projects in project database; works collaboratively with the Interim Co-Heads of the Department and other departmental staff; requires attention to detail, sound judgment and decision making, and knowledge of related and applicable software programs.

Come work with us! Read the full posting and apply by 2/28.

How to avoid predatory open access publishers

When you’re a librarian working with open access publishing, there is a question that comes up a lot. It’s one that many of us dread, because it tends to come with a lot of baggage, and it can be tricky to answer in a way that satisfies the querent. The question is, “What about predatory open access publishers?” Sometimes it’s asked as an attempt to discredit OA publishing as a whole, in which case it’s likely that no amount of logical argumentation and no set of facts will be acceptable as a response. More often, though, it’s asked in the context of problem-solving. Predatory OA is a threat – to vulnerable junior scholars, to authors in developing countries, to the enterprise of scholarly publishing as a whole – so what should we do about it? It’s tempting to toss off a quick, “Don’t give them your work to publish. Problem solved!” It has the advantage of brevity, but it doesn’t do much to address the very real fears of scholars who don’t have the training and the experience to confidently evaluate the worth of a given publication. To give me something to point people to when the question comes up, and to provide a useful alternative to lists of predatory publishers (more on this in a minute), I decided to share my own understanding of what constitutes a ‘predatory’ publisher and offer a set of criteria by which authors can evaluate publications. It doesn’t provide any easy answers, but hopefully it provides some useful guidance.

Why can’t I just look at a list?

Before we get to the good stuff, it’s worth taking a moment to consider the many lists in this space. ‘Tis the season, so we’re going to call them “nice” lists and “naughty” lists.

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Multi-author blogs: Getting the most out of a tricky (but powerful) format

The OSU Libraries WordPress Users Group recently met to discuss a topic near and dear to my heart: multi-author blogs. As you may have gathered from my last post on the topic, I’m a big fan of the group blog format. It allows for a broader perspective on a topic and a range of voices, and good multi-author blogs are truly more than the sum of their parts. You may  have also noticed that I don’t recommend that everyone venture blithely into the group blogging realm, because it comes with a set of built-in challenges that some folks will be happier dealing with than others. Based on the Users Group discussion, here is some advice to help you get the most of of your multi-author blog.

What can a group blog do for you?

The major benefits to working with the group blog format are interest, connections, and efficiency. Having multiple authors can make your blog more interesting by incorporating different perspectives and writing styles, and allowing you to cover a broader range of topics. It may give you an opportunity to connect with people you don’t otherwise have many opportunities to work with – inside of your organization and elsewhere. Finally, if writing time is limited for you, or you find you are more adept at the editing side of things than the authoring one, facilitating other people’s posts may allow you to more efficiently create a great blog.

What won’t it do?

Having multiple authors isn’t a sneaky way to ‘outsource’ your blog, and it won’t necessarily cut down on the total time you need to spend on it. If you have an opportunity to contribute to someone else’s group blog, congratulations! Most of us, if we want to work in that space, need to make it happen ourselves, and will therefore find ourselves in an editorial role. Being an editor means that you will need to articulate a vision for your blog, set it up, do a bit of writing yourself, and then recruit content. And then recruit some more content. And then follow up with the folks you recruited so that they actually turn something in. Depending on your own work habits and the level of investment on the part of your authors, it can be just as time-consuming as writing content yourself.

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Photographing Manuscripts

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Greetings from the OSU Libraries Preservation & Reformatting Department, Digital Imaging Unit. The department is dedicated to cultural heritage imaging, an umbrella term for scanning and photographing historical materials. If you’re unfamiliar with our work, check out one of my previous posts for some background on what we do.

Digital imaging allows libraries to share rare and unique materials with a worldwide audience, increasing the visibility of  collections while protecting the original objects from excessive handling.  The goal is to capture images that reveal the significant details of rare books, manuscripts, artifacts, and other materials, giving researchers the next best thing to seeing the original.  Today’s post shows some examples taken from the library’s collection of Medieval and Renaissance manuscript fragments.

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Guest Post: Upping Your Blog Game

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of posts dedicated to helping Libraries’ faculty and staff use blogs as an effective publishing tool. The first, a post by Beth Snapp on the IT blog,  Carousels, Drop-Down Menus, and Forms: Little Known Features of OSUL Blogs, is about the mechanics of working with WordPress. The second, Beyond the Nuts and Bolts: Blogs as Publishing, presents strategies for developing and maintaining an effective blog. In this installment, blogger extraordinaire Caitlin McGurk shares tips for writing in the blog environment.

 

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Caitlin McGurk here, Associate Curator for Outreach & Engagement at The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (BICLM). I was honored when Melanie asked me to be a guest blogger for Digital Scholarship @ The Libraries to share some helpful tips on how to create a successful library blog. Thanks, Melanie! And thank you, for reading.

First, some background-
I have been working for BICLM for about 4 years, and at the very start of my time here I noticed what seemed like a big problem with a simple solution. As all Special Collections libraries find, the very essence of our “specialness” unfortunately puts us in a position of limited visibility and access by the nature of our restrictions on material use. In an era where libraries–and archives in particular–must deal with the gradual decline of use and necessity to students due to the digital world, it’s more important than ever that we find a way to speak our users’ language and show them our ability to remain relevant and engaging. At BICLM, I immediately addressed this issue by launching a blog, a Facebook page, and twitter feed – all of which have grown to have mass impact and success. Within the first 3 years, we had over 119,516 “unique” blog visitors (which does not count individuals who have continued to visit the blog multiple times), with an average of 35,789 visits per month. For one particularly successful blog post, we have had over 28,788 views! Clearly, we were onto something.  Since then, we have launched Instagram, Tumblr, and Vine feeds as well.

But beyond simple statistics, we were finding that these social media and blog interactions were not only raising awareness of our library, but helping to build and support the collection and research use. On multiple occasions, we have had someone find a blog post of ours about a cartoonist relative of theirs, or a general interest of theirs, and it has led to them making a donation. We’ve also had researchers from around the globe tell us that they came here to look at something they found out about through our social media or blog posts, which is incredibly rewarding. But perhaps the biggest reward that we’ve seen from our digital outreach is the intellectual discussion that it stimulates, the sharing of ideas and new discoveries among seasoned scholars and newly minted comics fans. It has become our way of remaining engaged with the community, despite having to keep the collection behind closed doors.

Below, I’ll share some basic tips for leveraging the success of your blog:

  1. Be consistent: While it isn’t at all necessary to update your blog every day (or every week), I would highly recommend that new content be added at least once a month. We’ve all had the experience of looking up information on the web, and discovering that the site had not been updated since the previous year – and I know that for me, that is always an immediate warning sign that the organization I’m looking into is either defunct or not willing to invest the time in engaging with remote audiences online. With this monthly schedule in mind, remember that not every post has to be an exhaustive one – even an image or two with a brief summary of why you’re sharing them is enough to suffice.
  2. Find your voice: When writing for a blog, always keep in mind that your readers are not the scholarly audience that you may be used to, nor would you want it to be limited to them. I like to use what I call an “informed-casual voice” when writing online, which exudes a certain familiarity and lightheartedness while also asserting my expertise in the field, in a way that is not alienating to the reader. This may take some practice, and I believe that there is no better audience to rehearse it on than willing student employees, who have grown up on internet reading and can view it from their peers’ perspective.  Have fun with what you’re posting – and remember that if you don’t sound excited and interested in it, your readers certainly won’t be either.
  3. Always use images: We are living in a very visual culture, especially as more and more of our communication, writing, and reading takes place through screens. There is nothing better and simpler to use to grab someone’s attention than an interesting image. We can instantly know whether or not a blog post will be of interest to us if there is an image representing something that strikes our fancy, or at least intrigues us to want to know more. Beyond that, it’s also a mark of professionalism and effort. If you are posting about an item in the collection, or an event, don’t be afraid to have someone in the picture as well – statistics have shown that internet posts with images garner nearly 90% more engagement (ie. likes, views, favorites) than those without, and even more so if there is a person in the photo. But most importantly, try to take the best photo you can – nothing says unprofessional like a blurry image.
  4. Stick to the (fun)facts: While it’s easy to get wordy when we’re excited about a post we’re making online, remember that many readers will be engaging with your posts while they have a few spare minutes at work, on breaks, or viewing from their phone. Meaning, get to the point as quickly as you can, use concise and lively language to pull the reader in, and don’t weigh the post down with academic jargon or long-winded details. While some posts (such as conference/event schedule listings) will by nature need to be longer, try not to write anything that takes longer than 5-10 minutes to absorb at the very most. The best part about blogging is that you’re in control of your own publishing platform, so if you have more to say, save it for another post! When deciding on a title, also remember to not be too wordy, and to think of it as “clickbait”, a headline whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to particular content.

Hope you found these tools helpful for making the best posts that you can – happy blogging!

-Caitlin McGurk
Associate Curator for Outreach & Engagement
The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
mcgurk.17@osu.edu

Staff position open in Digital Content Services

Interested in supporting digital scholarship? There is a staff position open in the Digital Content Services department, which encompasses the Knowledge Bank and Publishing Programs. An excerpt from the posting:

The Digital Content Services (DCS) Projects Coordinator performs and coordinates production work for Digital Content Services across the repository and publishing programs and multiple software platforms (e.g., DSpace and Open Journal Systems), on multiple simultaneous projects. Production work includes submitting content, creating metadata, HTML layout editing, and providing technical support; designing and documenting workflows, scheduling and supervising production work, facilitating communications, and tracking projects to completion; works collaboratively with the Interim Co-Heads of the Department and other departmental staff; requires an in-depth understanding of the suite of digital content services provided by the department, attention to detail, sound judgment and decision making, and knowledge of related and applicable software programs.

Learn more about the position and apply online at  https://www.jobsatosu.com, job opening 410104. Applications will be accepted through August 2, 2015.

Beyond the Nuts and Bolts: Blogs as Publishing

Editing icon by Luis Prado on the Noun ProjectThis (very long) post is based on a Libraries’ workshop on blogging, held on 5/27/15, which was the second in a two-part series. View the original slides for this workshop here. Part one of the series was taught by Beth Snapp, and was titled  “Carousels, Drop-Down Menus, and Forms: Little Known Features of OSUL Blogs.” 

Why should librarians blog?

If you are reading this, the odds are you don’t think blogging in libraries is a complete waste of time. Nevertheless, I’d like to open with a brief discussion of what I see as the most compelling reasons for us to put our time and energy into blog-based publishing. I think of this list, collectively, as The Visible Library. (It’s a play on the phrase “The Invisible Library,” which is used to refer to those books that only exist in fiction.) All of these are ways in which blogging can provide greater visiblity to libraries and the work of librarianship:

  • News and updates: Since they are easy to use and allow for chronological, serial posting, blogs are a good platform for announcements about services, collections, facilities, and upcoming events.
  • Broaden the reach of our events: Speaking of events, we have too many of them that are completely invisible and inaccessible to anyone who wasn’t able – because of time or geography – to attend in person. Blogs can be used to distribute write-ups of events, to share research or interesting work done during the planning phase, or to continue the discussion afterwards.
  • Educate users and peers: This one’s pretty self-explanatory.
  • Tailored discovery: In our broad discussions about the principles of library discovery last fall, one of the ideas that consistently rose to the top was the need to provide tailored discovery environments for different groups. That’s a really tricky thing to do in traditional discovery environments (like the catalog), but a fairly easy thing to do in a blog environment. A blog can serve as an entry point into the library for a specific user group, where resources, services, and events of possible interest to that group are aggregated and described in accessible terms.
  • Make the work of librarianship more visible: I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for this one. The work of librarianship is fascinating, and largely invisible to folks outside of it. It includes intensive research and innovative teaching, interesting (if geeky) technical processes, and the development of cutting-edge services. One of the best ways we can advocate for ourselves and advance professional practice is to show people – users and peers – what we do.

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Digital scholarship and the public domain

How the public domain promotes scholarship: Engaging Columbus uses 1922 OSU thesis to map Columbus neighborhoods | Copyright Corner

Looks like it’s cross-post Tuesday here on the Digital Scholarship blog! This second link is to a post on the Copyright Resources Center’s Copyright Corner blog. Maria Scheid writes about Engaging Columbus, an interesting collaborative project that makes use of digitized images from a 1922 OSU thesis. She uses the opportunity to talk about the important role of the public domain, but it’s also a great example of how digital technology can enable transformative scholarship, and a reminder of the curious life of online collections. When we digitize our content, it can be used in wonderful, creative ways that we never imaged when we put it on a scanner or submitted it to a repository. Read Maria’s post to learn more.

(More) advice from journal editors

OSU Journal Editors Offer Tips to Early Career Researchers | Research Commons Blog

On Tuesday, March 24th, I moderated a Research Commons panel discussion sponsored by the Libraries’ Publishing Program and the Ohio State Postdoctoral Association.  The panelists were current or former journal editors from a range of disciplines, and they gave some really fabulous advice to new researchers looking to understand the mysteries of publishing. If this sounds familiar, that’s because we held a similar panel a couple of years ago at the Research Expo. This one covers some of the same ground (and even has a couple of familiar faces), but it also gave some new perspectives on the subject. Josh has a great write-up of the discussion at the Research Commons blog. Enjoy!

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