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2014 IR All-Star: Todd Bruns, Eastern Illinois University

July 22, 2014

Todd_1We are pleased to announce the first of our 2014 IR All-Stars, Todd Bruns, Institutional Repository Librarian at Eastern Illinois University. Since the launch of EIU’s repository in 2011, Todd has tirelessly dedicated himself to making The Keep a successful, supportive, and vibrant part of EIU’s campus. Though he has many wide-ranging accomplishments, we’d like to highlight Todd’s contribution to the campus’s robust ETD program and amazing variety of special collections in particular.

The Wesley Whiteside Botanical Garden collection is one of the most unique in The Keep, and a great example of the innovative ways Todd uses Digital Commons to showcase special collections and serve the campus community. Botany professor Wesley Whiteside taught at Eastern Illinois for 27 years before retiring and leaving his expansive farmland, arboretum, and botanical gardens to EIU in 2011. With Todd’s initiative, the repository has since become an “online museum” of the garden and an invaluable resource for the botany department with its extensive documentation of the hundreds of species grown on the land. Another example of Todd’s unique approach to displaying special collections in the repository is EIU’s theater arts collection, which uses the book gallery structure to display over 50 years of production programs, reviews, articles, set/costume designs, and photographs from EIU’s theater department.

Todd has also positioned the repository as an essential resource for Eastern Illinois’ graduate school and master’s program. After giving a presentation to the grad school about the benefits of ETDs, Todd was able to convince the school to include a link directly to the grad school’s website on all ETD cover pages in The Keep, which has helped generate additional international traffic to the site.

In addition to his work on The Keep, Todd maintains an active presence in the scholarly communications community at large with a number of publications, presentations, and reviews. Presented with Stacy Knight-Davis of EIU, his 2013 Digital Commons webinar “Increasing the Visibility and Impact of Graduate Research with Electronic Theses and Dissertations” is a must-see for anyone considering implementing an ETD program on their campus. Todd’s impressive report, “The Keep at Two: The First Two Years of Our Institutional Repository,” highlights the growth, milestones, and achievements of EIU’s repository, The Keep, as of September 2013. The incredibly thorough document serves as an invaluable resource for IR managers of all levels experience, and is an excellent example of the importance of measuring and reporting success to stakeholders on campus.

You can learn more about Todd and check out his full list of scholarly contributions on his SelectedWorks profile. Congratulations, Todd!

Introducing Enhanced Image Viewing for Digital Commons Collections

July 17, 2014

Image galleries are one of the fastest growing content types within Digital Commons collections. In fact, we’ve seen the number of galleries grow by over 300% in the past two years. Because of this amazing growth, we’ve made a commitment to improve the user experience within our image galleries. Earlier this year we introduced improvements to pagination to help navigate large galleries. Later this month we will take the next step by introducing an interactive viewer to better explore images within Digital Commons.

image viewer 1

When users navigate to the details page for an image they will see the same familiar layout, but instead of a static preview image they will see a new interactive viewer. The new image viewer supports full pan and zoom operations, allowing the user to explore large, high-resolution images right in their browser. Using either mouse movements or the controls on the viewer tool bar, the user can zoom in and pan around the image using the navigation window to identify the area of detail. The image can be explored within the details page or expanded to full screen view and will look great both on desktop and mobile devices. Despite these enhancements, there will be no changes to the existing workflows for managing your galleries. All of the work for creating the viewer is done for you after submission.

image viewer 2

We’re excited to offer this feature not only because it will significantly enhance user experience and encourage more exploration of the rich image collections within Digital Commons, but also because this has been a highly requested feature from the community. We hope you’re excited to use it!

If you want to learn more about the image viewer and how it will impact your image collections, contact your Consulting Services Rep at support@dc.bepress.com.

Congratulations to the Forthcoming 2014 IR All-Stars!

July 15, 2014

We’re excited to announce that this year’s amazing group of IR All-Stars has officially been chosen! Our annual bepress Digital Commons IR All-Stars awards spotlight four individuals from the Digital Commons community who have demonstrated a unique, high-impact, and replicable approach to IR success, and have made a meaningful contribution to the scholarly communications community as a whole. Through these awards we aim not only to honor the accomplishments of individual members of the community, but also to help support and enable all Digital Commons admins to be IR All-Stars too. You can learn more about the history of the awards in our post about last year’s winners.

all stars table

As always, selecting the winners was incredibly challenging. All of our admins and their teams do amazing work, and the Digital Commons community as a whole is incredibly hard-working, engaged, and committed to building vibrant repository services and supporting campus needs. We’ve been blown away by the rapid growth of Digital Commons collections over the past few years, and there was a large pool of excellent candidates for the 2014 awards. Nominations were made by members of the bepress Digital Commons Consulting Services team and final selections were chosen by a committee of bepress managers.

Selection Criteria:

  • At least 3 years as an IR manager.
  • A track record of vibrant repository collection growth, and an innovative and tireless approach to engaging faculty and others on campus in order to support their scholarly communications needs.
  • A demonstrated eagerness to share and teach others. This might take the form of a presentation, article, case study, or video that provides specifics and guidelines for the best practices for others to learn from and replicate the strategies that made the IR manager an IR All-Star.

Over the next month, we’ll be announcing and highlighting the accomplishments of this year’s IR All-Stars here on the DC Telegraph, and linking to some of the amazing resources they’ve created. Check back in next week for our first All-Star!

Over 40 Years of Data Finds a Permanent Home in the Repository

July 8, 2014

When Walt Cressler, Reference Librarian and Associate Professor at West Chester University, took over management of Digital Commons @ West Chester last year, he knew there were some big needs on campus that the repository could meet. As a science librarian with an interest in the environment, Cressler thought of one need in particular. For over forty years, students and faculty at WCU had been conducting research and collecting data from the Robert B. Gordon Natural Area for Environmental Studies, but despite having its own website, the data from the area had never been collected and shared on one permanent digital home.

Walt reached out to his friend and colleague, Adjunct Professor and longtime Steward of the Gordon Natural Area Gerry Hertel, and proposed the IR as a home for the area’s years of scattered data. Hertel was thrilled at the idea, and together the pair began tracking down information. Though Hertel had been storing much of the data and images on his own website, valuable bits and pieces were also spread across various Facebook pages and in the offices of other faculty members. With the help of Hertel and by “haranguing” faculty members, Walt has begun populating the repository with a rich collection of resources from the area.

“I’m hoping that [having the data in the repository] will enable people to see the extent of what goes on in the Gordon Natural Area in terms of it being an educational resource and environmental resource,” Walt says. “That would serve a variety of things. It would reinforce people’s notions of how valuable the area is, so the pressure to build a road through it would be eliminated. For students and prospective students it shows them what’s done there and gets them excited about the educational aspect and the stewardship aspect of studying at WCU. The accessibility and the visibility wouldn’t be possible if the data wasn’t open access.”

For other librarians who are considering taking on a similar data collection project, Walt suggests finding a faculty member who can serve as a champion and a partner in the process if possible. “It’s very helpful to have a point person that you can collaborate with. This project was mainly between me and Gerry, and he’s been really motivated to keep sending me emails and share information that I can then upload into the repository.”

Gordon Natural Area Aerial Image

An aerial view of the Gordon Natural Area

 

Happy Red, White, and Blue Day from bepress!

July 3, 2014

It’s that magical time of year again when the temperatures are hot and patriotism is even hotter. The USA may be out of the World Cup, but that won’t stop us from celebrating the ol’ red, white, and blue with all the bang of Julian Green’s goal-scoring kick. The 4th of July is officially upon us, and while we could wax poetic about how this day is all about honoring our history and the founding fathers, let’s not kid ourselves. The best part about Independence Day, as with any holiday, is the food: beer, brats, and—since we’re in Berkeley—bok-choy and black bean burgers. Naturally, the Digital Commons community is bursting with great foodie facts.

Think hot dogs should be a regular rotation in the royal treatment? Apparently Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt did. According to this document from the “Ask Gleaves” series in Grand Valley State University’s repository, when Queen Elizabeth and King George VI visited the White House in 1939—the first time a reigning British monarch had visited the US—they were served a royal picnic that included “Virginia ham, smoked turkey, cranberry jelly, green salad, and—yes—hot dogs.” This 1927 essay from Lehigh University’s Lehigh Review, simply titled “Beer,” expounds on the symbiotic relationship between beer and college life—a relationship that extends, surely, to many Americans on the 4th of July. For the uninitiated, author R. Max Goepp, Jr. writes:

“First of all, what is this beverage? As found in Bethlehem it is a liquid, varying from dark brown to pale yellow, and with a taste that depends on the drinker and the nearness of local elections. It is a fair quencher of thirst and a reliable, although time consuming, means of attaining that state politely known as inebriation…Beer becomes in turn for the student a personage whose acquaintance must be made, then a casual friend, an intimate associate, and finally, a bosom companion.”

Finally, what’s more American than apple pie? This charming 1940 pamphlet from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Agriculture Department, “Apples: Uses and Values,” is a wealth of helpful facts and handy recipes. “For many centuries apples have been used as food—and deservedly so. They are delightful in flavor and appearance and rich in many of the essential food elements,” the pamphlet tells us, and we couldn’t agree more! Did you know, for example, that apples contain “a high content of Vitamin C, which prevents scurvy, bleeding gums, loss of appetite, and fatigue”? All the more reason to dish up that second (or third) slice of pie tomorrow.

From all of us here at bepress, have a happy and healthy holiday weekend!

Five_Hot_Dogs

“Five Hot Dogs” by Wayne Thiebaud in Kenyon College’s repository.

20 Cool Things You Didn’t Know About Digital Commons: Part One

June 25, 2014

Think you know everything you can do with Digital Commons? Think again. We’re constantly impressed by the hard work and innovation of our Digital Commons community, and we wanted to show off twenty of the many amazing and creative ways you’re using the platform to help support the needs of your campuses. Stay tuned for parts two through four!

Datasets
There are currently about twenty DC schools posting or in the process of posting data to their repositories. They’re turning to Digital Commons for their data needs because it offers ease of use, flexible metadata options, and great visibility. There are many different ways to present data in Digital Commons, and your choice really depends on the nature of the material.

Textbooks
The movement behind online, open access, and affordable (or free) textbooks has been gaining huge momentum in higher education in recent years, and we’re proud to offer a platform for Digital Commons schools to meet that need.

Lectures
We’re sure you’re well aware of Digital Commons’ ability to embed videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Brightcove, Soundcloud, and many others. While at first most of these videos tended to be interviews with scholars or snippets of audio that accompanied an article or ETD, with the push toward online education, we’re seeing many more open lecture series uploaded to Digital Commons.

Printable 3D objects
Bet you didn’t realize Digital Commons had gone 3D, right? The more departments at your institution that gain access to this technology, the more important it is to have a permanent home to share the output with the rest of the campus.

Oral Histories
Oral histories are becoming extremely popular in Digital Commons. We currently have nearly two dozen collections specifically devoted to them, with others also being interspersed within larger departmental collections.

To learn more about how you might include these features in your Digital Commons repository, contact Consulting Services at support@dc.bepress.com.

Battling Wicked Bots for More Accurate Download Counts

June 20, 2014

“Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” – Glinda, to Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

At bepress we ask a very similar question thousands of times each day as we handle the requests for content downloads and determine if they are from a bot or from a human reader. Some bots are good bots that clearly identify themselves, such as the Google Crawler. These are easy to identify and remove from readership reports. Other bots are bad bots because they don’t identify themselves as bots. In fact, many go the other way and attempt to pass themselves off as human readers. To maintain accurate download counts we must identify those performed by bots and exclude them from the counts that we report to authors and administrators. Identifying and excluding bad bots creates a regular source of work for us as we strive to provide the most accurate download counts in the industry.

For those unfamiliar with the term, bot (derived from “robot”) is shorthand for a program designed for automating tasks on the web. As mentioned above, the web crawler that Google uses to find and index content is a bot. The programs written and deployed to wreak havoc on websites and networks in protest (or for nefarious hacker fun) are also bots. Bots aren’t necessarily bad, but their activities should never be considered as being done by a human.

Starting in April of this year, we noticed a dramatic increase in the number of downloads to content across all of the Digital Commons sites. By having access to the data of hundreds of sites, we could quickly determine that this was not just a blip in the data but a doubling of download activity over a six week period. We dropped what we were doing and focused the development team on identifying what this traffic was and where it came from. We quickly found that we were being crawled by a number of new, sophisticated bots originating from Ukraine, Poland, and China that out-smarted our existing bot filtering algorithms.

For the past six weeks we have been working on a two-pronged solution to this problem. First, we developed rules that would catch these bots in real time in the future. This was an iterative process requiring us to process large volumes of historical data to find trends across sites and to build filters to identify and filter that activity. Then we tested these new filters across multiple Digital Commons instances to evaluate the effectiveness of our new rules. Secondly, we applied those rules to the previously recorded download counts for April and May to eliminate any that were erroneously recorded.

This is not the first time we’ve done work like this. Occasionally we find, or have had reported to us, a sharp increase in download activity and we have done similar projects to respond to the situation. However, these reports have generally been site-specific. This latest attack is the largest and most widespread we’ve seen. Because of its invasiveness we wanted to take extra care in developing the most thoughtful response so that we are better able to prevent this activity going forward.

You may be asking why this is so important. We, and many of our subscribers, believe that download counts are an important measure of the effectiveness and reach of the Digital Commons collections. As impact of research moves from the traditional number of citations to other alternative metrics, we believe that downloads are an integral part of that story.

Mythbusting: Data in Your Repository

June 17, 2014

It’s no secret that data is one of the hottest topics in scholarly communications right now, and at bepress we’re excited to be a part of the conversation. As part of our ongoing data initiative, we decided to take a look at some of the most common myths and misperceptions about data in the repository and offer our counterarguments to help ease some of the fear and continue moving the conversation forward.

MYTH: All data files are big.

BUSTED: Data files come in a variety of sizes and the vast majority are under 1 GB.

Since the launch of Digital Commons in 2002, bepress has steadily increased our file-handling capabilities to stay ahead of the needs of the community. With the most recent improvements to our system, we can now accept files up to 2GB in size, making Digital Commons an ideal solution for the majority of publishable datasets generated by scholars. We’ve also doubled our bandwidth, enabling us to handle these bigger files with greater speed.

MYTH: All data files are numeric.

BUSTED: Data can have a variety of formats.

Just in Digital Commons repositories alone we’ve seen a huge variety of data formats, from 3D printable objects and seismic recordings to computer code and audio files. The days of a One Definition Data are done.

MYTH: Only researchers in the hard sciences work with data.

BUSTED: You’ll find data-driven research all over campus.

Most people tend to immediately associate the word “data” with science disciplines, but just as there are a wide variety of data formats, so are there a wide variety of fields that also work with data. When looking for data on your campus, don’t discount the arts and humanities! The wider you cast your net, the more likely you are to find rich datasets in previously unknown places.

data chart

File sizes from a random sample of 300 datasets in Figshare, Dryad, and Dataverse.

 

For more information about how to start a data program on your campus, check out our data toolkit here or contact Consulting Services at support@dc.bepress.com. We’ll also be rebroadcasting our popular webinar “Getting Started with Research Data in Your Repository” this fall so keep an eye out for that announcement!

How to Calm Your Faculty’s Fears About Predatory Publishers

June 10, 2014

There have been many fears, myths, and misconceptions about open access journals and predatory publishing swirling throughout the scholarly communications community in the past couple years. Sarah Beaubien, Scholarly Communications Outreach Coordinator at Grand Valley State University, and Max Eckard, Metadata and Digital Curation Librarian at GVSU, recently published an article in the Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication exploring the topic.

Addressing Faculty Publishing Concerns with Open Access Journal Quality Indicators” provides a set of Open Access Journal Quality Indicators—which were researched, created, and evaluated by GVSU’s University Libraries’ Scholarly Communications Advisory Committee (SCAC) over the course of two years—that library staff can use to help address their faculty’s concerns about predatory publishers. SCAC’s indicators were broken into two categories: positive indicators, which “encourage the researcher to evaluate factors such as the scope of a journal, its primary audience, and the reputation of its editorial board, and societal or institutional affiliations,” and negative indicators, which point to the journal being unethical.

By familiarizing themselves with these indicators and making an effort to share them with faculty, Beabien and Eckard argue that libraries can play an important role in helping to calm faculty fears and promote positive open access publishing experiences. They maintain that education and outreach in this manner are more effective than creating or relying on subjective lists of ethical or unethical publishers, as some in the scholarly community have chosen to do in the past.

For more information and to see the complete set of indicators, download and read the full article here.

Digitizing Historical Works Can Leave Original Materials in Better Condition

June 5, 2014

We’ve shared a lot of community stories exemplifying how the repository can bring new life to old works, but one Digital Commons customer recently discovered another benefit of digitizing archival collections. Last month, the Indiana University Maurer School of Law Library published a blog on the Legal Information Preservation Alliance’s website about their experience digitizing a number of historical legal documents.

Richard Vaughan, Acquisitions and Serials Control Librarian, wrote:

“In addition to making these documents available online for the first time, the process has provided us with an opportunity to improve the organization and conservation of the original materials. As each item goes through the digitization process, we clean the item, remove old staples, repair any damage to it that is repairable, and insure that the item is being stored in an appropriate conservation quality container. At the same time we consider whether the item needs to be transferred to a more appropriate location in our collection or if changes or additions are needed in its cataloging.”

Vaughan is confident that the impact of the historical works will be much greater now that they’re online, and is very pleased with the additional benefits the digitization process produced.

“…the originals are in better shape than they were before the project started and will be handled less – all ensuring these important documents will live a longer life.”

For more information about using Digital Commons to showcase and preserve historical collections, contact our Consulting Services team at support@dc.bepress.com.

IU Maurer historic document

A historic document from Indiana University Maurer School of Law Digital Commons

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