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Libraries' electronic repository now available for scholarly output

by Suzanne Zack - May 30, 2006

The University has begun full-scale operation of an electronic institutional repository.

Following the successful completion of a year-long pilot program, the University Libraries has opened its digital collection of the University’s scholarly products to all faculty, staff, and graduate students at UConn, including the regional campuses, the Health Center, and the Law School.

The website is: http://digitalcommons.uconn.edu/.

The scholarly products that may be posted to the site include journal articles, reports, monographs, papers presented, seminar series, conference materials, and other products, such as sound and video clips and PowerPoint presentations.

Contributions from undergraduates will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Documents from University-sponsored conferences and meetings will also be accepted, whether or not the author is from UConn.

The Libraries established DigitalCommons@UConn last year, using the platform Digital Commons, a product of Berkeley Electronic Press and ProQuest. During the past year, submission to the repository was available to a limited number of people.

Jonathan Nabe, a reference librarian and liaison to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, is the project’s coordinator.

He says DigitalCommons@UConn “serves a variety of functions in the scholarly communication process. As an information-sharing tool, it allows the entire world access to the valuable research conducted here.”

Documents are easily found via standard Internet search tools such as Google and Yahoo, and the site itself provides full text searching, by keyword, author, or date.

Increasing prices in the academic publishing industry have caused libraries to reduce their subscriptions, which has hindered the work of researchers.

At the same time, high printing costs have limited the production of monographs, making it harder for researchers to get their work published.

Digital Commons provides an alternative to commercial publishers and individual web sites.

Many publishers now allow posting of published materials in institutional repositories – sometimes as pre-prints, sometimes as post-prints.

Information on copyright and other concerns are addressed on a “For Authors” page within the repository.

All repository policies, as well as information on how to establish a presence and the submission process are also available there.

“The establishment of a digital repository at UConn is very exciting for the research community,” says Greg Anderson, interim vice provost for research and graduate education and interim dean of the graduate school.

“For the first time, the research output of our scholars will be accessible freely and easily to anyone at any time. This is the wave of the future, and we are well ahead of it.”

The repository is a more reliable tool for preservation than individual sites, which may be affected by fluctuations in staffing and budgets.

With DigitalCommons, all files are assigned one URL, which is guaranteed not to change. Files are backed up each night, so they will never be lost.

Documents placed in DigitalCommons@UConn are all “open access,” meaning anyone with an Internet connection can view, print, and download them.

The only exception is UConn dissertations (available from 1997), the full text of which is available only to UConn-affiliated individuals.

Posting materials to the repository is simple and quick. Documents in Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, or Rich Text Format are automatically converted to PDF files.

A number of individual researchers, departments, and centers on campus have already taken advantage of and seen the benefits of the repository.

Thomas Meyer, associate professor of natural resources management and engineering, is one of them.

“The system is easy and, as always, our librarians are terrific,” he says.

Although most journals now publish online, Meyer says two journals that are not – Survey Review and Surveying and Land Information Science – gave him permission to publish his articles from those journals in Digital Commons.

“Online article retrieval is clearly the future and I want all my articles available in PDF form on the Internet,” he says, adding that he’s also interested in Digital Commons “as a means of responding to the outrageously high prices publishers are demanding for journal subscriptions.”

Xiuchun “Cindy” Tian, an assistant professor of animal science who conducts research in the Center for Regenerative Biology, has begun submitting her peer-reviewed articles to the repository.

She says she sees the site as an ideal location for “laboratory techniques and protocols, undergraduates’ honors theses, independent research term papers …and preliminary and supplementary data that are not included in formal publications in research journals.”

During the coming months, informational sessions on how to participate will be organized for departments, centers, and individuals.

For more information, or to establish a place in the repository, visit the site at digitalcommons.uconn.edu, or contact Jonathan Nabe, coordinator, at jonathan.nabe@uconn.edu.

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