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Best Practices from Your Peers: ETD Removal Policies

October 29, 2014

One topic we see come up a lot on our Digital Commons user group are ETD policies and workflows. In one thread—reposted here with permission—Margaret Heller of Loyola University Chicago and M Ryan Hess of DePaul University shared two expert perspectives on ETD removal policies that we wanted to highlight on the blog.

Mies Martin, formerly of Michigan Technological University, posed this question to the group:

“We are preparing our formal DC roll out and one policy or procedure we need to establish has to do with removal of content in Digital Commons. Right now our DC site consists mostly of Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Rather than reinventing the wheel I wanted to see if anyone could share their polices or procedures regarding removal of ETDs from their sites. I’m also interested in learning if anyone posts this information and if so, where on your site do you post it?”

Margaret responded first:

“We don’t have anything documented particularly well, but several experiences over the past year have led to the following set of practices:
1. When a withdrawal request is made, we first clarify the motivations. Is there a book contract at stake? Simple misunderstanding of the requirement to deposit?
2. Next we see if an embargo or access restricted to campus is acceptable.
3. In the one case where none of the above has been acceptable, the item was withdrawn, but the PDF is stored elsewhere with the understanding that is still archival material just as the print copy in the archives.
So far this has worked, with most people willing to accept embargo over withdrawal.
Our general withdrawal policy is on a policy page. It was written before I began managing the repository, and has never come up.”

Then M Ryan Hess offered his experience:

“We have a pretty established policy which largely puts the burden on the Colleges and Schools. Our largest ETD contributor made it a departmental policy that adding dissertations and theses to the repository was a requirement for graduation. Students must sign an agreement that they are posting their ETD on our repository. The aim of our ETD program is to promote the intellectual legacy of the campus, reinforce our reputation via Google and Discovery system results and also promote open access in general. Pretty much all the other schools follow this model. In fact, we highly recommend this to new schools and colleges that want to post ETDs. We have about one or two students a year come back with complaints about their writing being posted and so it’s very good to have consent documented. I think it also makes it really easy to enforce because it’s very simple and straightforward.
We also defer to the schools in terms of embargoes. Some use this. Some don’t. In some cases, the schools that do allow them, require that the faculty advisor sign off on any embargo.”

Margaret was kind enough to follow up and let bepress know that

“we discovered a retrospectively digitized thesis from the 1940s containing copyrighted material. The publisher asked us to withdraw it under the DMCA. Rather than withdrawing the entire thesis we consulted with library administration and chose to redact the pages with the copyrighted material and replace that with a page stating the copyright holder requested that the material be removed. This particular situation is relevant to current ETDs when they contain material that wasn’t cleared, and might be a way to make the entire thesis available without copyright violation.”

Thanks to Margaret and M Ryan for their great answers, and to Mies for posing such an important question!

The world of scholarly communications is constantly changing, but if there’s one thing we here at bepress can always count on, it’s the vast collective knowledge of our Digital Commons community. Though our team of IR experts are always here to help, we know that sometimes the most useful answers to your questions are the ones that come straight from your peers. That’s why a few years ago we set up an online Digital Commons user group dedicated to just that. Are you subscribed to the group yet? If not, email your Consulting Services Representative to find out how!

Commercial Contracts and Publishing Opportunities Result from Openly Sharing Group’s Work Online

October 21, 2014

J.R. Dennison, Professor of Physics at Utah State University, leads a group of graduate and undergraduate students who test aerospace materials called the Materials Physics Group, now represented online in Utah State’s institutional repository, Digital Commons@USU. He is thrilled that having his group’s work in the IR has led to funding and contracts, created publishing opportunities, made them more connected to their peers, and made the research more easily discoverable. The Materials Physics Group showcases a wide variety of work including faculty publications, conference publications, theses and dissertations, posters, presentations, reports, senior theses and projects.

A big opportunity came along when Professor Dennison got a call from the president of a small business with a NASA/U.S. Air Force contract who urgently needed help with testing, and found the Materials Physics Group in a panicked search of the Web. “One hour [later] he was talking to me and that started our collaboration.” The business partnership continues to be a success. “Beyond the contract funds, this contract is exciting to me because it opened up a door for me into a new branch of work—commercial and practical application of my craft.”

Professor Dennison describes further important professional opportunities as well. “The students, both graduate and undergraduate, have benefited greatly from the group’s presence in their USU IR too. The commercial application work that we have all been doing together has been driving real material science…. My students are writing topical articles and getting published.”

Professor Dennison is quick to give credit to his liaison librarian, Betty Rozum, Associate Dean for Technical Services, for recognizing the value of organizing, sharing and preserving all of this valuable research in the IR. “Betty was the one who got me to imagine the benefits that might come from making my group’s work accessible online,” said Professor Dennison. His monthly readership reports from Digital Commons showed that “people were actually finding and noticing my work.” Having the group’s research widely available has made it possible for new colleagues from around the globe to find Professor Dennison through his work. A colleague in China who found the work in DigitalCommons@USU contacted him—“He had read my work and had detailed questions. It was nice to get that kind of feedback and to get a new contact, especially someone I knew by reputation.”

This robust collection of work has become the home for the Materials Physics Group online, offering significant professional benefits, and Professor Dennison couldn’t be more pleased.

Model Collections: A New Resource Just in Time for Open Access Week

October 14, 2014

We’re pleased to announce a new resource: Model Collections!  Organized by discipline, these collections are designed to help you and your liaison or reference librarians further engage faculty with your repository initiative.  More specifically, we wanted to provide samples of each possible type of collection that a department might want to showcase.  We hope that you and your liaison librarians will share these examples of services the library can offer when presenting to departments.

So far, we have collected together some exemplary journals, conferences, faculty and student research, books, special collections, and other content in the following disciplines:

We would love your feedback and suggestions on this new resource!  What disciplines should we do next?  How might you use this resource?  Let us know by e-mailing us at

Show What Your IR Can Do for Undergraduate Research Groups on Campus with a Great Leave-Behind

October 7, 2014

Undergraduate research initiatives are cropping up everywhere you look. The question is: how can you show them what the IR can do to help?

We’ve taken some of the best and most creative examples of undergraduate research in Digital Commons repositories and created a leave-behind that we hope will help. The handout, “Digital Commons: A Showcase for Undergraduate Work,” highlights undergraduate collections from a wide range of institutions, from small liberal arts schools to large research-oriented universities. Show your undergraduate research partners how Digital Commons can support their mission with honors theses and capstone projects, student research journals and conferences, and a myriad of ways to showcase the special programs and opportunities that are unique to your campus.

Share the link with your office of undergraduate research, honors program, or anyone else invested in undergraduate work on your campus—or better still, print up some copies and drop them off in person. If you’d like our fancy dancy printed copies to leave behind, drop us a line and we can send a stack your way!

Coming Soon to a Website Near You: Portable Readership Activity Maps!

October 2, 2014

Earlier this year we announced a new tool: the Digital Commons Readership Activity Map, a real-time visualization of full-text downloads across the globe. Our primary goal was to provide IR managers and their libraries with a solution to the great challenge facing the IR initiative that Dorothea Salo, author of the “Roach Motel” paper, identified so clearly:

“The problem in my opinion isn’t so much that downloads aren’t happening; it’s that with many of our IR systems, usage activity is *invisible* because the software doesn’t surface it in any usable or interesting fashion.”

—Comment made by Dorothea Salo to a thread on the meaning of her “Roach Motel” paper on the SPARC listserv (August 9th, 2009)

Reactions to the new Readership Activity Map have been overwhelmingly positive. The most frequent comment we get is that it is “mesmerizing.” We couldn’t be more pleased. The powerful visual impact of the Readership Activity Map has led Digital Common’s subscribers to take screen shots of the map to post on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere. One of Purdue’s research centers created a video of the map to show their impact.

But pictures and videos of the Readership Activity Map simply can’t match the impact of the real thing. Digital Commons subscribers want to put the live map on their informational TVs that sit outside of the entrances of their Libraries and administration offices. They want to be able to incorporate the live map into campus-wide public relations efforts. Deans want to have the maps accessible on mobile devices so that they can show donors when making house calls. To support these goals, and those of others following suit, we have prioritized making the Readership Activity Map portable so that you can highlight usage activity of readers anywhere the story resonates with patrons on campus or funders on and off campus. In the next few months Digital Commons subscribers will soon have the ability to:

• Embed the Readership Activity Map on any web site or monitor with a quick cut-and-paste job
• View or share Readership Activity from any mobile device

It is also worth noting that we’ve continued to improve the map itself. We’ve made it more intuitive and visually impactful. We have added the option to zoom in on readers around the world. We have also invested in the infrastructure supporting the map to make it more robust and in further filtering the logs to rigorously eliminate spiders, bots and crawlers from the readership logs in real-time.

Stay tuned for release announcements of these features and other plans we have for visualizing readership data, as well as other Digital Commons and SelectedWorks improvements.

Ideas for Celebrating Open Access Week

September 30, 2014

In late October academic libraries around the world will celebrate Open Access Week. This annual event is a great opportunity to publicize and educate faculty, students and staff about ongoing scholarly communication issues and initiatives, and to highlight IR services that help promote open access and sustainable scholarly communication.

Look no further than these Digital Commons subscribers for some great ideas about how to celebrate open access at your library:

Getting creative, Janelle Wertzberger of Gettysburg College is making OA logo cookies with a cookie cutter that they printed on their 3D printer, thanks to Chip Wolfe at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, who made an STL file for them! The University at Albany, State University of New York, will be having a launch event for their new IR, Scholars Archive, during Open Access week, and having Jim DelRosso from Cornell ILR come give a talk. The University of Kentucky is having a “a panel discussion about research and scholarship in an environment that is trending toward openness.” Boise State Scholarworks will be using OA Week to celebrate their millionth download (congrats!). CSU Ohio is having a joint conference with Wright State. UMass Medical School eScholarship@UMMS is celebrating OA Week and they will be highlighting their data services. As part of OA Week the University of Tennessee Knoxville library is having a 5th Anniversary Celebration of Trace, Tennessee Research and Creative Exchange.

If you need ideas for presentations and messaging, Isaac Gilman’s Open Access in 15 Minutes (or less) is a great place to start. OA advocate Peter Suber’s introductory page also provides an excellent overview. Many items in the collaboratory, such as this brochure for Johnson & Wales University’s ScholarsArchive@JWU, do a great job of framing the repository within the global Open Access campaign. In addition, the bepress outreach department ( is always happy to discuss marketing and messaging if you’d like more information.

Many universities also host open access week materials in their IRs. This is a great way to both advertise upcoming events and provide access to materials for those unable to attend. Here are just a few of the colleges and universities hosting OA week material in their IRs:

Gettysburg College
Wayne State University
Utah State University
Syracuse University
Trinity University
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

If you’re already thinking ahead to next year, consider following Crystal Goldman and the librarians over at San Jose State University’s lead. In celebration of Open Access Week SJSU hosted a one-day conference on open access, open resources, and open education. “Open Access Un/Conference: Promote, Impact, Assess” offers both a formal conference proceeding and an opportunity for informal discussion.

We’re excited to see our Digital Commons community planning such fun, innovative activities! If you are planning OA Week activities on your campus that you’d like to share, we’d love to hear about them—e-mail us at



“HAZAH” to the First Digital Commons SHARE Testers: Southern Illinois University, St. Cloud State University, University of Pennsylvania and Wayne State University

September 26, 2014

As most of you know, development is underway for the first portion of the Shared Access Research Ecosystem (SHARE). This first phase is the notification system that will be used to keep key stakeholders aware of the release of research results. This work is being done by the Center for Open Science with guidance from the SHARE Technical Working Group, of which bepress is proud to be a member.

At this time the notification system is in a pilot testing phase with a target of public beta testing in Spring of 2015. The pilot currently is harvesting research events from 18 different sources, with more planned. Of these 18, four are Digital Commons sites and we expect this list to grow. We’d like to offer a big thank you to Southern Illinois University, St. Cloud State University, University of Pennsylvania and Wayne State University.

Through working with SHARE during testing we plan to design and build tools to make it really easy to identify, expose, and share the valuable research materials you are collecting throughout the SHARE ecosystem.

20 Cool Things You Didn’t Know about Digital Commons: Part Three

September 24, 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 part four!

Extra-Large Collections
More and more libraries (not just those with ETD collections) are faced with the responsibility of making enormous collections available online, and they are turning to Digital Commons.
• Example: Brigham-Young University Law School’s 30,000 public domain court briefs

Embedded Features
We’ve already talked about how Digital Commons supports all kinds of embeddable features, from audio and video players to commenting widgets, but did you know that there’s already an embedded PDF viewer built into Digital Commons?
• Example: Utah State University historical documents

Cover Pages
Automatically generated, institutionally-branded cover pages are one of the staples of Digital Commons, but did you know that you can customize them further with images? Many subscribers are choosing to add images of their school’s logos to further enhance their repository’s branding.
• Example: Cover pages from the University of Kentucky

Have your faculty members been asking about Altmetrics? Typically used for journals, Altmetrics are simple to set up. Once enabled, readers and authors can easily view statistics on Tweets, mentions, and more on an article’s homepage.
• Example: University of Kentucky Entomology Department Faculty Publications

We can easily turn text into a simple, clickable button for you, but some libraries are even designing their own buttons! Our example below in the sidebar, the University of Wollongong, created customized “Author Badges.” The badges, which come in four different colors, link back to a faculty’s SelectedWorks page and can easily be added to any website or online profile with simple cut and paste HTML code.
• Example: University of Wollongong Author Badges

To learn more about how you might include these features in your Digital Commons repository, contact Consulting Services at

Best Practices from Your Peers: Displaying Information for Multiple Authors

September 16, 2014

A question that many repository admins encounter but may not yet have an established library policy on is what information to include when displaying multiple author lists for an article, particularly if one or more of those authors are not affiliated with the institution. After one Digital Commons client who was facing this problem wrote into the DC user group wondering if anyone would be willing to share best practices, a number of knowledgeable admins responded with interesting answers about how their library addresses the issue.

We’ve included a few of them here, with permission.

Franny Gaede of Butler University wrote:
“We include the names of all of the article’s authors, but only list institutions and/or email addresses for those associated with Butler. I think it’s important to preserve that information to ensure the generated citation is accurate and also for SEO purposes—if only one author’s name is searched, I want to make sure my pre/post/publisher’s print shows up too!”

April Younglove from the Rochester Institute of Technology shared her library’s policy:
“We list the first 5 authors only, regardless of affiliation. If they are affiliated with RIT, we note it and add a contact address.”

And Paul Royster of the University of Nebraska Lincoln offered up another solution:
“I do hunt down and enter emails for authors from other institutions, but I do not ask my student assistants to go that far. But if the email is in the article, we use it.”  When another user asked Paul if he ever got emails from outside authors wondering why they were receiving notifications about an article, he responded:
“Maybe twice a year or so, and occasionally they ask to opt out of emails or remove address—perhaps 4 or 5 in 8 years. Most often they enquire about hosting other stuff, especially conference participants, independent scholars, and emeritus faculty. And they are almost universally (99.995%) grateful to get download reports.”

Are you a Digital Commons customer and are not yet signed up for the DC usergroup? If so, let us know!

Passed Over by Traditional Print Publishers, Faculty Book Flourishes in Digital Format

September 9, 2014

“Without Terri Fishel’s offer to publish Captive Audiences / Captive Performers online, and her support throughout the long publishing process, this book might never, perhaps, have seen the light of day…” said Sears Eldredge, Professor Emeritus of the Theater and Dance Department at Macalester College. His extensively researched and richly presented e-book, Captive Audiences / Captives Performers: Music and Theatre as Strategies for Survival on the Thailand-Burma Railway 1942-1945, was nearly ten years in the making, but got rejected by traditional print publishers for being too niche. When Sears approached the director of the Center of Scholarship and Teaching about how he might be able to publish his books, she knew the library had been working with Digital Commons and reached out to Terri Fishel, Library Director at Macalester.

“Right at the beginning I announced that if Captive Audiences / Captive Performers was going to be published as an e-book, then I wanted to take advantage of the digital platform to make it a multimedia experience,” Sears said. Along with library staff Jacki Betsworth and Johan Oberg, Terri worked with Sears to bring his vision to reality. “The ability to incorporate so many images of POW artwork—and in color (not possible in a print book without being extravagantly expensive)—gives a ‘presence’ to the events being discussed. And to be able to have readers listen to the POWs telling their own stories or singing their songs—or hear electronic ‘realizations’ of some of the original music written by the POWs in the camps—makes the whole experience of ‘reading’ the text more multidimensional, more immediate, immersive, and compelling,” said Sears. “I think the publishing world is going to move more and more in this direction, and I greatly appreciate bepress’ willingness to let us experiment in this fashion.”

Another unique aspect of publishing through Digital Commons was the ability to upload the book chapter-by-chapter as it was written. Though the team eventually decided to upload the last portion of the book in a chunk, having two individual chapters uploaded early on as a trial provided unexpected benefits. First, it allowed the team to experiment with different formatting options and troubleshoot potential issues. And second, because the chapters were easily discoverable online, several of the former POWs mentioned in the book and their families were able to read the work, reach out to Sears, and eventually have their resources and insight incorporated into the final text. “They provided some extremely important additional information, including new images and audio materials that made the final text far richer in content than it would have been otherwise,” Sears said.



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