Good Practice Principles for Scholarly Communication Services 

The January 2019 American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter meeting in Seattle provided excellent opportunities to engage with colleagues dedicated to the creation and dissemination of open digital scholarship and content.  Just after that meeting, the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) released this helpful and succinct guide titled Good Practice Principles for Scholarly Communication Services.

COAR’s January 29, 2019 statement describing the guide:  “Science and scholarship are critical to improving our lives and solving the world’s most intractable problems. The communication of research, a vital step in the research process, should be efficient, effective and fulfill the core values of scholarship. There is growing concern about the increasing concentration of control of research communication functions in the hands of a small number of players, whose objectives do not reflect the interests of scholarship.”

Although it was released after the ALA meeting, each of the guide’s seven principles were discussed in detail during ALA as colleagues across a broad range of institutions shared their approaches to supporting open scholarship. While each principle carries equal importance, discussion around open standards was a central point during this year’s ALA Midwinter meetings.

Dartmouth Digital Commons and Open Standards

Open access and institutional repository systems vary greatly across academic institutions.  Some are using open source software to build and support systems locally, while others license their software, technical support and hosting services with off-campus vendors. Dartmouth deploys the latter approach and offers bepress Digital Commons, which is an off-campus, vended service hosting content within Dartmouth Digital Commons and providing Dartmouth collection managers with technical support.  Many institutions use bepress Digital Commons, and although this not an open source system, Digital Commons meets the COAR/SPARC good practice guidelines because it is a system that adheres to international standards and allows networking and sharing across other Digital Commons’ collections at other institutions.

Open access repository management is an ever-changing landscape, and it is important that Dartmouth remain up-to-date and in-the-know about current trends and good practices.  The Library’s memberships to and participation in conversations with the ALA, SPARC, and the Library Publishing Coalition (LPC) help keep the Dartmouth community at the cutting edge of open research, open education, and open publishing. If you have comments or questions about how Dartmouth participates in the open access scholarly communication landscape, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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Dartmouth’s 2018 Open Access Week

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Although the official celebrations are over, the ideas and conversations we shared this year during Open Access Week will persist and lead to positive actions in the coming months.  Thank you to all who led and attended a variety of … Continue reading

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Paywall: The Business of Scholarship

Last night, as part of Open Access Week, the Dartmouth Library and Open Dartmouth Working Group hosted a screening of the documentary Paywall: The Business of Scholarship with an introduction and Q and A with director/producer Jason Schmitt.

In keeping with the message of his work, Schmitt made the documentary itself openly accessible. There were no fees for screening the work, which can be streamed directly from the website or downloaded. As he said himself, what better way to have your work seen than to make it freely available and easily accessible? Released on September 5th, the documentary has hundreds of screenings worldwide.

Schmitt introduced the documentary with a comparison to the music industry. His story began with Napster, an MP3 sharing system and one of the first ways to digitally pirate music. Schmitt noted that when he had been a young worker for Atlantic Records, one of his first jobs out of college, he and his peers never thought that Napster would overtake the CD. “The MP3s sounded so tinny, they didn’t compare to the depth of sound you could get with a CD.” However, just as it states in the documentary, humans are terrible at predicting the future. Napster was the first indication of how digital technology would change  the music industry, resulting in modern legal methods of streaming such as Spotify. Like the music industry, digital technology that allows for instant access to information has the potential to change the publishing models. As with the case of Napster, some of the routes opened aren’t legal.

Although currently in hiding at an undisclosed location due to risk of extradition from a lawsuit, Sci-Hub creator Alexandra Elbakyan was interviewed for the documentary. Sci-Hub provides free downloads of research articles that are often obtained illegally, and remains highly controversial. While the views of Elbakyan seem to favor Sci-Hub as a solution to the problem, Schmitt referred to SciHub as a “crutch” that people are using due to being unable to access information; SciHub isn’t the solution, but the result of being unable to easily and legally access knowledge in an age where the tools exist to do so.

The main issue the documentary addressed was the inability to access research due to paywalls. Publishers utilize publicly funded information and profit from it. While making a profit isn’t evil, the rates at which the prices for journal subscriptions are increasing make it an extremely expensive endeavor that even universities struggle to meet, which can result in inability for a university to get access to a journal. Even worse off are those without access to university resources, who face paywalls invisible to those whose university allows them to freely access journal subscriptions. The documentary primarily focuses on Elsevier as an example of the for-profit, paywall-based publishing system model. Schmitt added that while Elsevier tends to be the scape goat because they make the most profit, they certainly aren’t the only ones doing it.

Open access publishing addresses these accessibility issues by making articles funded by the public legally free and easily accessible to anyone with internet access. It begins to break down some of the barriers for people trying to obtain knowledge, so that the work of researchers goes to those who are interested and not just those with the privilege to afford it themselves or through an institution.

Having traveled the world for screenings, Schmitt visited Iceland and learned that the library connected to the University was also open to the general public. While this didn’t solve the issue of skyrocketing journal fees, it made it so that everyone had access to those subscriptions, not just those with the privilege of attending a University. Europe itself is adopting Plan S, which intends to mandate that all scientists funded will have to make their research free and available to the public.

The Q and A session addressed one of the issues in adopting open access. Schmitt noted that he wouldn’t expect young researchers unprotected by tenure to sacrifice their careers by trying to insist on a new system. Jen Green, Dartmouth Digital Scholarship Librarian, also pointed out that open access publishing can come with high fees. While open access may break down barriers for those accessing research, for those trying to publish research the fees to publish open access may act as another barrier. While Dartmouth has funds to help Dartmouth authors publish open access, authors without a university or a student who graduates before their work is published won’t have that resource.

In spite of barriers to publishing open access, Schmitt believes that the millennials may be the generation to push for it. Because they grew up in a world of streaming and easy access, millennials may be more likely to see a movement away from the traditional paywall system towards one of accessible and affordable work.




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Open textbooks and where to find them

One question that comes up a lot when we talk about open educational resources (OER) is what’s available and where to find them. So today’s post will be about finding open textbooks and other open educational resources.

First, some quick background information on OER. These are educational materials released under an open license so that they can be freely accessed, used, adapted, and shared with no restrictions. There are a few great things about open textbooks and OER more generally: they’re free, they’re easy to modify and customize, and research has shown that in courses that use OER there are lower DFW rates and students achieve higher grades (Colvard, Watson, and Park, 2018).

So where can you find an open textbook or other OER? If you’re interested in exploring what resources might be available, here are some places you can look.

  • OpenStax is an initiative out of Rice University that provides peer-reviewed, openly licensed textbooks that are freely available online. This collection has an emphasis on textbooks for introductory college courses.
  • Open Textbook Library is a catalog of free, peer-reviewed, open textbooks. All are intended for use with college classes. A fantastic feature of this resource is that faculty can post reviews, so many textbooks include a rating (out of 5 stars) and detailed reviews about things like accuracy, clarity, organization, and comprehensiveness of the book.
  • The BCcampus Open Textbook Collection is a catalog of open textbooks compiled by the BCcampus Open Textbook Project in British Columbia. It compiles hundreds of textbooks from a variety of institutions and includes open textbooks created by BCcampus for the top 40 highest-enrolled subject areas in higher education in British Columbia.
  • OER Commons is “a public digital library of open educational resources”. You can use it to find all kinds of open resources, like assignments, lesson plans, simulations, and lecture notes, in addition to open textbooks.

These are only a few of the more popular options. Contact Katie Harding, Teaching and Learning Librarian, if you’re interested in learning more.

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Open Access Research Tools: Browser Extensions

Every year during Open Access Week, we think and talk a lot about how authors and creators can share their work (articles, books, chapters, creative work, code, and data) openly and freely with others.  Open access content helps to create knowledge environments that are equitable to all.  Another important component to equitable information access is knowing where to look for open access information and discovering the best approaches to searching for open access content.  This year’s Open Access Week has inspired us to host a variety of events and workshops that circle around the theme: Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge.

In light of that, tomorrow’s Open Access Week workshop titled Open Access Research Tools will help researchers discover open resources beyond Dartmouth’s subscription or purchased collections to support their research at home and beyond their affiliation with Dartmouth.  If you can’t make it to the workshop, take a look at these free browser extensions that can help you locate open access articles on and off campus.

  • SPARC Open Access Button: Developers say that the “project started when students got tired of hitting paywalls (About the SPARC OA Button).”  The OA Button works on any browser, and after users add the extension, they can click the OA button on any webpage to find out if an open version of an article exists.  If the article is openly available, the OA Button will retrieve the PDF.  If it is not available, the user is directed to a page that will allow them to contact the author and ask for a copy to use in their research. The OA button does not search sources such as ResearchGate,, or Sci-Hub where copies of articles are sometimes shared illegally.
  • Unpaywall: This extension, developed by Impactstory, works on Chrome and Firefox and functions a bit differently than the OA Button.  When users find an article online, Unpaywall will present either a closed-lock icon or an open-lock icon. This tells the user whether they will be able to download the PDF from that page. Unpaywall also does not search sources such as ResearchGate,, or Sci-Hub.
  • Kopernio:  This extension, developed by Web of Science, works on Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.  If users register with Dartmouth credentials, Kopernio will go through the Library proxy when it encounters a paywall to check Dartmouth authentications and retrieve PDFs while searching off-campus (i.e. outside of your institution’s IP range).

Kopernio’s logo will appear on the  webpage while it searches for open access content. Like the above browser extensions, Kopernio also searches other open repositories such as and Dartmouth Digital Commons for openly available PDFs. When Kopernio can’t find content via Dartmouth resources or other open access resources, it will search for content via third party sources such as Google Scholar.  Users should be aware that this may lead to content posted on sources like ResearchGate where they may need to determine the copyright status before use.

This is just a snapshot of resources that can help researchers locate open access content.  For more information, join us for tomorrow’s workshop or contact me and set up an appointment!

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Research Impact: Opening up the impact of your work

As part of Open Access Week, we are exploring ways to increase our research impact by opening our research.  Making our research more inclusive and open not only helps disseminate our work, but can also help us justify and quantify future requests for funding or research investment.

Stated simply, maximizing your research impact can be organized around three step:

  • establishing and monitoring your scholarly presence
  • optimizing your dissemination and discoverability
  • tracking the impact of your work

Establishing and monitoring your scholarly presence is the crucial first step. The problem of author name disambiguation can be addressed by being the same, standard, and consistent.  Consistently use the same variation of your name along with the standard version of your affiliation on all your works.  You can also sign up for an ORCID iD, a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from other researchers and integrates throughout your research workflow.

Optimizing your dissemination and discoverability primarily centers around journal selection.  In general, you want to publish in a journal that will give you the biggest impact (and be most discoverable), but you also want to retain your rights to be able to use or post your work in other places.  SHERPA/RoMEO is a searchable database of publisher open access policies from around the world that provides summaries of self-archiving permissions and author rights on a journal-by-journal basis which can help you select the right journal.   But keep in mind that your research is more than just your published articles. Publishing supplemental information (SI) in discoverable and citable places, like open data repositories, also increases the impact of your work.

Once you have consistently identified and broadly disseminated your work, you can begin to track its impact.  Bibliographic metrics can track the author level, as well as the journal and article level. Tools like Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar calculate an h-index that measures both the breadth and depth of your citations. Additionally, altmetrics look at a range of sources to capture the “buzz” surrounding your publications and are more immediate than bibliographic measures. PlumX provides a dashboard of altmetrics to help you visualize and track your impact.  It is also integrated into the Dartmouth Digital Commons, Dartmouth’s open repository!

These are just a few things to consider to help optimize your research impact.  For more information and assistance, contact your liaison librarian or the Scholarly Communication, Copyright, and Publishing Program


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NIH Open Access Policy Increases Access to Medical Literature

Scientists communicate their research findings through journal articles.  This is true for both medical research and translational research, which translates basic science research to clinical practice with the express aim to improve patient health outcomes.   Keeping up with advances in clinical research is essential for health care providers to provide the best care for their patients meaning they need to timely and ongoing access to journal articles.  However, only a minority of medical journals are open access; most require a subscription which can be costly. In 2017 health sciences journal’s subscription costs averaged $1,732 per journal annually (titles in Clarivate Analytics Indexes).  Pay per view costs for single journal articles frequently ranging from $30 to $50 per article.  Health care providers not affiliated with hospital or medical center with a library to negotiate and pay for journal subscriptions are often left on their own to pay for journal articles.

Within this context, the importance of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) passage of its Public Access Policy on April 7, 2008 becomes apparent.  The Policy states that all peer-reviewed articles based in any part on NIH funded research must be made publicly available through PubMed Central within 12 months of publication.  PubMed Central is a free, full-text repository.  NIH promotes compliance to this policy by delaying continued and future funding if investigators don’t follow this policy.  NIH’s rationale for the mandate was that the results of publicly funded research should be available to the public.  Currently 5.1 million articles are archived in PubMed Central.  However, an article published in 2015 reported that 76% of physicians recruited to their study were unaware of the NIH Public Access Policy.  This indicates a clear need for targeted publicity of the policy.  It should be noted that a knowledge of the NIH Policy is not needed to access articles made available through PubMed Central because of the policy.  PubMed Central articles are clearly linked to from PubMed, a freely available online article database of biomedical journal articles.  In addition, medical-related searches in Google Scholar frequently link to PubMed  or PubMed Central records, again providing access to the full text articles.

The NIH Open Access Policy is an important step toward open access to medical journal articles.  Because the mandate allows a 1 year embargo before articles are made open access, access to current research is delayed, but it has made millions of articles available to the public.  Despite a lack of awareness of the policy by physicians, they still have the opportunity to access full text articles through PubMed Central.

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This week is Open Access Week!

The Scholarly Communication, Copyright, and Publishing Program, Open Dartmouth Working Group, the Library, and campus partners are celebrating Open Access Week 2018, October 22-26. Open Access week is a global event centered around Open Access: free, immediate access to information with rights for reuse. OA Week at Dartmouth will feature a broad range of discussions, workshops, films, and other events focused on this year’s theme, “Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge.” This theme has inspired exciting collaborations with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, the Rauner SpeakOut and Historical Accountability programs, and an acclaimed film producer/director, Jason Schmitt (Paywall: the Business of Scholarship), that will provide opportunities to share ideas about inclusive, equitable, and accessible knowledge that can truly serve the needs of a diverse global community. For more information and registration information the events please visit: 

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Plan S for Open Access

What is Plan S?

Plan S was announced on September 4th, 2018 by cOAlition S, a group comprised of the European Commission, the European Research Council, and 11 European national funders.  It is an ambitious  initiative that aims to ensure (by 2020) immediate open access publication of research funded national funding organizations.  Plan S states:“After 1 January 2020 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.” Read more at the  Ten Principles of Plan S.

How does Plan S impact Open Access in the United States?

Although Plan S is a European initiative, developments in Europe have an important influence on open access and scholarly communication conversations in other parts of the world, including the United States.  Authors, librarians, and scholars have observed European academic publishing and institutional practices closely as leaders in open access development and implementation. For example, members of the 2002 Budapest Open Access Initiative coined the term “open access” and articulated ways in which scholarship could be published and shared openly online. After that, the 2011 Horizon 2020 proposal recommended that all funded research in Europe be made openly available via open access publication or an open repository, a proposal that saw implementation by 2013.  Following European progress towards and support of openly available research, in February 2013 the Obama Administration issued the “Expanding Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research” policy memorandum stating that publicly funded research must be made easily and openly available to the public.  The memorandum resulted in the 2015 Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Mandate for Public Access to Federally Funded Research Results. Now research funded by public organizations (e.g., NSF, NIH, etc.) must be made publicly available once it is published.

Today, Plan S takes the OSTP Mandate a step further by stating that research funded by public grants must be published in open access journals or immediately (in its final published state) on open access platforms. While the United States may be months or years from takings steps like this, Plan S has already generated significant conversations within US scholarly communication, open access, and research circles. There is both healthy optimism and concern around Plan S and its success, and these conversations are sure to lead towards progress and innovation in efforts to increase open access to the world’s research and scholarship. Follow some of these conversations on Twitter, #plan_s

For questions about this or other scholarly communication issues, please reach out:

Jen Green, Digital Scholarship Librarian


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Federal Open Textbook Pilot: Call for Applications

This past Spring 2018, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and other advocates for open access to information, scholarship, and knowledge received the exciting news that Congress voted to approve a $5 million Open Textbook Pilot Program. SPARC has played a key role in seeing this issue through Congressional vote and implementation at the Department of Education, and  SPARC’s work on this important issue will continue beyond the 2018 fiscal year (FY18).  On July 30th, the Department of Education issued a  Call for Applications aimed at academic institutions working to create and improve access and use of open textbooks.  The application deadline is August 29th, 2018.

In a summary provided by SPARC: “The Department will award the $5 million in 1-3 grants large grants to consortia of at least three higher education institutions with employer, workforce, and community partners. The program is focused on student savings through expanding open textbooks for high-enrollment courses within a sequence or degree program, and the Department heavily emphasizes Career and Technical Education (CTE).”

SPARC’s Open Textbook Facts:

Cited online at SPARC, August 24th, 2018:

  • Open textbooks and open educational resources (OER) are academic materials that are freely available to download, edit and share to better serve all students. These materials come in all formats, including print and digital, and have an open copyright license that permits free and flexible use.
  • Numerous institutions of higher education have launched open textbook pilot programs.  An analysis of open textbook pilot programs by the Student PIRGs found that these programs saved students $128 per course on college textbook costs. If every undergraduate took one course that used an open textbook, students would save more than $1.4 billion per year.
  • Open textbook grant programs at the state level have a strong track record of achieving savings for students. States including Georgia and North Dakota have funded open textbook grant programs that have ultimately saved students more than ten times the amount invested. As such, a $5 million investment could save students $50 million or more.
  • Peer-reviewed research has found that students assigned free, open textbooks do as well or better than their peers in terms of grades, course completion, and other measures of academic success. Open textbooks can reduce costs while also supporting student success.

If you would like to know more about open textbooks, open educational resources, and the Open Textbook Pilot program, please don’t hesitate to contact Jen Green, Digital Scholarship Librarian or Katie Harding, Education and Outreach Librarian.

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