Digital Scholarship @ The Libraries

Inspiring innovative digital scholarship at the OSU Libraries and beyond

Month: November 2013

Open Access Resolution – Negotiating Author’s rights

Editor’s Note: In July of 2012, the faculty of the OSU Libraries adopted an open access resolution. Under the terms of this resolution, all faculty librarians agreed to retain certain rights in their published journal articles and submit them to the Knowledge Bank. Today’s blogger, Fern Cheek from the Health Sciences Library, offered to describe her experience complying with the resolution when publishing an article. She has helpfully extrapolated some lessons for the rest of us to keep in mind as we do the same.

I would like to share my first experience regarding author’s rights. My first “wrinkle” in the process was forgetting the fact that library faculty are required to retain rights to be able to deposit the article in the Knowledge Bank. It was the first article that I had written since the mandate went into effect and it was not on my radar at the time. It arose when I was asked to sign the copyright for authors’ agreement from the editor. Now, mind you, the article had not even been accepted at this point.

Lesson #1: Talk to your co-authors

For anyone thinking about co-authoring an article, be upfront with your co-authors about this requirement in the initial discussions. After panic set in, I looked at the Open Access Resolution and emailed Melanie Schlosser for help. She referred me to the OA Resolution – Rights Help available on the Carmen wiki. After reading this information, I plunged ahead to contact my co-author and explain the requirement for the article to go into the Knowledge Bank. Thankfully, she was agreeable and offered assistance to help with the process.
I contacted the publisher, an association publisher, to ask about their policies on institutional repositories. They sent a copy and I proceeded to consult with Melanie and Sandra Enimil to make sure that I understood the requirements.

Lesson#2: Look at journal policies

Look at the copyright policies & author agreements for the journals to which you are considering submitting your manuscripts for publication. This can save you the grief that I was going through and give you an idea about whether it will be a fairly easy process or whether negotiation will be required. If so, time should be allowed for that, so it doesn’t hold up the publication. As luck would have it, the policy was one that allowed me to deposit the article, after a period of embargo. Therefore, if the manuscript was accepted for publication, I would be able to fulfill my faculty requirement.
In the health sciences, it’s more routine than not to co-author. I am just getting starting on a project, as part of a systematic review team, where I’ll be doing the literature searching. I’ve already talked with the primary investigator to let her know about my obligation to deposit the article when accepted. I’ve asked her to send me the list of journals that are being considered for submission of the manuscript.

Lesson #3: Keep the goal in mind

It does not have to be a complicated process if you keep in mind what the goal is, to share the information with a larger audience. If all else fails, you can petition for an exception if the publisher is unrelenting.

How to write a post for this blog

In the not-quite-a-year that this blog has been live, 20 people have written for it. Many have contributed one post; a few are regular contributors. Because the scope of the blog is so broad, I am thrilled to have had voices from IT, Research and Education, and Special Collections and Area Studies, in addition to Collections, Technical Services, and Scholarly Communications (my wheelhouse). One of my goals for this blog is to have it serve as a showcase for the huge variety of digital scholarship-related work that is done in the Libraries, and, while we’ve only scratched the surface, it already gives a flavor of that through sheer variety. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first large group blog we have had here at the Libraries. It’s also the first time many of the contributors have had to directly confront ‘digital scholarship’ as a topic, so it’s not surprising that my invitations to my colleagues to write for it are often met with questions like, “Wait…what do you want me to write about?” I also get lots of questions about appropriate post length and voice. Since those questions come up so frequently, I thought it would be worthwhile to write a post…about how to write a post. I think I will structure it as a series of questions:

Q: What should I write about?

A: Read the definition of digital scholarship in the post I linked to above, and think of anything you do that relates. It’s a pretty broad definition, so odds are you can find something. I would also encourage you to think about what you want to get out of writing for the blog. Do you want an excuse to learn more about a particular topic? Is there something interesting happening in your area that you want your colleagues to know about? Do you want to show off your (or the Libraries’) expertise in a given area? Being aware of why you’re writing will not only help motivate you to get it done, it will help focus your writing.

Q: How much should I write?

A: How much do you want to write? How much do you have to say about your topic? I know that’s a total non-answer, but I’m not going to turn away your post because it’s too short or too long. There are posts that consist of a link and a few sentences of context, and that’s fine. There are some that are much longer, and that’s great, too. One caution with long posts, though – blogs work best in easily-digestible chunks, so if you have a lot to say, it might be best to break it up into two or more posts. I would also caution you against biting off more than you can chew. If the topic you want to write about is going to require a month of research and writing, you might want to consider scaling it down. Not that I’m opposed to having well-researched content on the blog, but odds are you will just keep putting it off indefinitely because it’s too big a task and really – is it worth it if you’re just going to end up with a blog post? Most of the time it’s best to pick something you can bang out in an hour or two.

Q: What sort of writing style should I use?

A: There is no prescribed style for the blog. Some people write very formally; others compare their work to their children’s favorite movie. My preference is for a more conversational style, but whatever you’re comfortable with is ok.

I think that covers it. Have an idea for a post? Let me know!

U.OSU and the Publishing Program

Introducing U.OSU.EDU

Last week brought some great news on the publishing front – the university-wide roll-out of U.OSU.EDU, Ohio State’s professional website platform. Created by the new Office of Distance Education and eLearning (ODEE), and Arts & Sciences Technology Services, U.OSU allows any OSU student, staffer, or faculty  member to create a website to showcase their work, or their studies, or their experience here at Ohio State. According to the U.OSU blog,

U.OSU provides web space to support professional and educational activities at The Ohio State University. Students, faculty and staff use U.OSU.EDU to share independent work, host course assignments, enhance project visibility, communicate within groups, and represent organizations.

The new platform is hosted by EduBlogs, and is built on WordPress software. Although it is based on a blogging platform, the creators are billing it – and teaching people how to use it – as a more general website platform, from which blogging functionality can be removed or de-emphasized if desired.  Right now it has a very limited selection of themes and plugins, but the ODEE team is tweaking and adding new functionality all the time, so you can expect the offerings to expand in the future. It is not, however, meant to be highly customizable; rather, it is meant to support the website needs of most of the OSU community in a standard way. A user can create up to five sites, but they are all tied to his or her name.#, and will not be maintained indefinitely after he or she graduates, or moves to a different institution, so it really is a tool meant to support the needs of current OSU students, faculty, and staff.

I’m a big fan of academic blogging and of similar programs elsewhere (like the University of Mary Washington’s UMW Blogs), so I’m thrilled this platform is now available to the OSU community. I also want to extend my appreciation to the folks at ODEE and ASC Tech, because a program like this at a place the size of OSU is not a trivial undertaking. Good work, folks!

So where does the Libraries come in?

As an organization engaged in scholarly publishing, obviously the Libraries would have a keen interest in the new platform. After playing around with it (and congratulating the creators on a job well done), our first order of business is to figure out how it complements our programs and services. I think there is a lot of potential ground to cover here, and I will try to get some other folks to weigh in on different aspects of it in later posts. For now, I’d like to start by looking at how U.OSU.EDU interacts with the Libraries’ Publishing Program, and how the two might support each other.

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Push to make federally funded research available to the public

Two new public access bills and a directive from the White House have rekindled public access discussions in 2013. Here’s what’s at stake: increased access to federally funded research and accompanying data, and opportunities for new research using computational analysis (e.g. text and data mining).  Already in effect, the White House directive requires certain federal agencies to implement public access policies for funded research. Pending legislation would strengthen public access requirements and extend coverage to additional agencies. Visit Copyright Corner to learn more about (1) these initiatives, (2) the copyright implications and impact on researchers and libraries, and (3) potential next steps.