Open Access Week

Open for Whom logoThe University Libraries will celebrate our fourth annual Open Access Week next week from October 21-25! This year’s theme is Open for Whom? Equity in Open Knowledge. We’ll be considering the ways in which scholarly publishing can provide equitable access not just to the results of our research here at UofSC, but the ways in which anyone, anywhere can participate in the scholarly communication ecosystem. Have ideas? Tell us using the Twitter hashtag #UofSCOA.

We’ve created a few events and activities we hope you’ll enjoy throughout the week. Feel free to participate in one or all!

  • All Week: Increase Your Research Impact Challenge
    • Sharing your research openly can boost your research impact. Participate in one or more of the following activities designed to extend the reach of your research and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a prize. Simply email a brief recap to by 11:00 pm on Friday, October 25.
      • Archive one of your publications in Scholar Commons, UofSC’s institutional repository.
      • Submit a manuscript to an Open Access publication. Find one from our easy guide to OA publishing.   ​
      • Register for a free ORCID iD. Participating in the sign-up event counts!
  • October 21, 2019, 11 am – 1 pm: ORCID iD Sign Up and Information Session
    • Stop by Scholar’s Corner in TCL to learn more about how having an ORCID iD can help you disambiguate your research, simplify funding and publication processes, and fulfill mandates. Sign up and complete your ORCID registration while enjoying snacks and coffee.
  • October 23, 2019, 2 pm – 3 pm: Publishing Your Work: Understanding Your Rights as an Author
    • ​Location: Thomas Cooper Library, Multimedia Classroom 3.
    • Did you know that when you publish in traditional journals, you are typically required to transfer your copyright to the publisher? The publisher then decides how you may share your research with colleagues, students, and others. Join us to learn how to manage your works by scrutinizing publication agreements, negotiating your rights to make your research more widely available, and finding publishers with nonrestrictive copyright policies. Register from

Questions? Need more information? Visit or contact Amie Freeman.

New Report Shows Growth of Open Textbook Use

In a recently released report published by Babson Survey Research Group with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, affordable learning advocates received some very welcome news. Based on the results of a survey completed by over 4,000 faculty and departmental chairpersons across the United States, the report shows that both faculty awareness and adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER), or free online learning materials, has steadily increased over the past three years.  

Another interesting takeaway is that more faculty, for the first time, report a preference for digital course materials (40%) over print (25%). As the popularity of digital textbooks rises among instructors, the increasing numbers of OER in many subjects will likely prove a welcome addition to the available selection of course materials.

It’s clear that the actions of many USC faculty and instructors reflect the results of this study. To learn more and get involved, visit the library’s guide to Open Educational Resources and affordable learning.

-Contributed by Amie Freeman

Textbooks and Course Materials: Still too Expensive

Open Access Week, a global week-long initiative highlighting open access of research literature, took place  October 22-28, 2018. For the fourth consecutive year, UofSC Libraries hosted a series of events designed to advocate for open scholarship. As part of the week’s activities, we organized tabling in partnership with UofSC Student Government to draw attention to the need for more affordable course materials, particularly in the form of open educational resources (OER).

Despite the efforts of the UofSC community to provide affordable learning through the use of low and no-cost course materials, at this event we learned students are still paying too much for textbooks. 134 students self-reported they spent an average of $637.49 on textbooks during the Fall 2018 semester, a number that exceeds estimates provided by the College Board when accounting for half of an academic year.

UofSC students respond to the cost of textbooks.

What can we, the UofSC community, do to encourage affordable learning options?

  • We must continue to advocate for the use of Open Educational Resources and library-licensed course content. Research shows that OER adoption improves end-of-course grades and decreases course withdrawals and the grades of D and F (DFW grades). The library can help faculty locate and adopt OER.
  • UofSC instructors can create and modify openly available course content. A robust, high-quality body of course content provides previously unavailable options to faculty. Sharing back to the educational community is a good way to contribute to the affordable learning movement.
  • We support the inclusion of language that recognizes the development of OER in tenure and promotion policies.
  • We recognize faculty using affordable course content. If you are using no-cost materials, you deserve to be thanked! Apply to be a Professor for Student Affordability at USC or a Professor of Affordable Learning statewide.

-Contributed by Amie Freeman

Open Access Monographs: Current Initiatives and Issues

The Open Access movement, born primarily from scholars in the STEM related disciplines, has focused much attention on opening access to articles in scholarly journal publications. Often overlooked by the OA movement is the publication and dissemination of monograph materials, or open access to books. This oversight has serious implications on the larger picture of scholarly communication, as much of the research in social sciences and humanities-related fields rely heavily on monographs as a primary publication format. In this post, I’ll focus on past and current Open Access monograph initiatives and the main issues surrounding them.

Currently, several separate platforms provide access to Open Access monographs. These include individual publisher platforms, such as digitalculturebooks, an imprint of the University of Michigan Press, and Luminos, an endeavor by the University of California Press. They also include some large publisher projects, such as SpringerOpen Books.

There are also a few notable platforms that attempt to centralize discoverability and access to OA monographs, including the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB), Knowledge Unlatched, Open Book Publishers, and JSTOR. Each of these attempt to work as an index and platform for peer reviewed monographs and edited volumes. Among the leaders of these platforms is the DOAB, a platform that offers publication guidelines and upholds strict standards for inclusion to ensure quality.

A primary issue related to the use and dissemination of OA monographs is discovery. As you’ve seen, there are several places to access OA monographs, but locating them can be difficult. The DOAB attempts to tackle this obstacle by inviting publishers to provide them with metadata to their open access books. This metadata is harvestable to aggregators such as library catalogs.

However, there is not one centralized platform, nor are there proficient practices for adding OA monographs to local discovery platforms such as library catalogs. In a 2017 article, Aaron McCollough highlighted the deficiencies of OA monographs in library discovery. Using a sample title from digitalculturebooks, McCollough tested many academic library catalogs to see if they contained a record and path to the OA holding for each selected title. The study found that out of the 192 library catalogs tested, 127 (66%) of them contained no indication of an open access version, even and especially in cases where the library purchased access to the book. Furthermore, only 40 (21%) of the catalogs tested included a record with a clear path to the online open access version of the book. Indeed, testing the same title in Thomas Cooper Library’s local catalog resulted in the first category, where the record fails to reflect a path to the Open Access version, and even states, “access may be limited to ProQuest affiliated libraries.” This poses an issue to anyone that is not a current USC student, faculty, or staff member, as access to this title would require a current authentication login. Therefore, if a non-affiliate came across this title in TCL’s catalog, there would be no indication that they would have free access to this item.

McCollough admits that the sample he used was too small to form overarching conclusions about OA monograph discoverability, but his findings do make a good case for how items not included in the DOAB, or another similar index with records that can (and often are) incorporated in subscription discovery services. The main deficiency that he points out is the failure of libraries to add OA materials to local catalogs. In other words, if an academic library does not pay for access to a vendor provided discovery service, OA monograph materials are unlikely to be added manually to a library’s local catalog. Alison Mudditt, the Former Director of the University of California Press, expanded on the issue during her presentation at the 2016 SPARC Meeting on Openness in Research & Education. Though there have been a number of initiatives to publish Open Access monographs, libraries have not kept up with efforts to make these items discoverable through local collections.

There have been several initiatives launched within the past year that will help strengthen OA monograph output, potentially forcing the hand of libraries to improve discoverability. These initiatives include TOME and Project Muse’s announced partnership with Knowledge Unlatched. Many of us at the University Libraries look forward to investigating these initiatives over the summer.

These comprehensive initiatives to produce and support the funding of publishing Open Access monographs should help us to integrate OA resources into library collections. If these initiatives continue to grow and thrive, the only difference between OA monographs and traditional monographs will be the cost. It appears to me that as long as funding continues, the only thing standing in the way of these materials being impactful to humanities and social sciences fields is discoverability. Libraries play a key role in contributing to these OA initiatives by developing best practices and standards to ensure that quality open monographs are easily discoverable to researchers from within library collections and beyond.

-Contributed by Brent Appling

Open Access beyond Graduation

Academic librarians often teach college students how to effectively conduct research by utilizing valuable online library resources. Students become familiar with their library resources over the course of their studies and may establish connections with their library. It is usually emphasized that most of library resources are paid and not freely available. However, on the very first day after graduation, our graduates become alumni. Unless our licenses include alumni as users, these graduates lose access to those paid databases.

According to a new study conducted by Project Information Literacy, recent graduates report learning the skills to evaluate information during college years. However, the same study shows that graduates have difficulty locating affordable resources once they graduate. It points out that very few graduates know how to use open access government databases such as ERIC.

What can librarians do to help our graduates find affordable resources? While some colleges may be well-funded enough to provide subscription databases to their graduates, most cannot. Fortunately, librarians have the tools to increase students’ awareness of open access materials and to keep them informed of new open access materials. Librarians and faculty can promote open access resources to students during the course of their educations, particularly through library instruction sessions. These students can then apply their information skills and visit their familiar library website for lifelong learning.

-Contributed by Li Ma

Happy Fair Use Week!

I’m very proud that our University Libraries provide support for thousands of classes every year. Our course reserves service gives access to expensive textbooks and other resources.We also support you, our faculty, with electronic course packs. We save you time by posting readings in Blackboard so that you don’t have to find or scan the resources yourselves. At the library, we also pay close attention to copyright. We frequently pay licensing fees for these materials. However, we also rely on an important exception in the copyright law called fair use.

Fair use is a provision in the copyright law that acts as a safety valve. It allows you to sometimes use copyrighted works without permission from the copyright owner when your need to use the work is more important than the need of the owner to control the work. Copyright ownership varies, but for academic works, the owner is often the publisher.

If copyright owners could control every aspect of their copyrighted works, then we would not have freedom of the press or freedom of speech. Academics would also be profoundly affected. You would be unable to quote from an author’s works in conference presentations or writings, use examples from author’s works to illustrate mistakes or flaws in their research, or post copyrighted materials online for teaching without permission. Fair use can often allow these things. Most of us take this right for granted.

So what’s a faculty member to do? Isn’t it enough for you to understand geophysics of the Andes or phenotypic plasticity? The library is here to help with course reserves, classes and guides. But the bottom line is that it’s important to understand copyright because these are the laws that control the access and use of your work, and your work matters.

Happy Fair Use Week, USC! Go exercise your rights.

-Contributed by Tucker Taylor

Scholar Commons and the Elsevier Acquisition of bepress

Hopefully you’re familiar with Scholar Commons, the University’s institutional repository for research content produced by faculty, students, and staff. (If not, take a look at our previous post about sharing your work!) But either way, you are probably less familiar with the business deal between bepress (the company that created the digital repository service) and the academic publishing giant Elsevier that has sparked a lot of debate in the library community.

Last August, Elsevier acquired bepress for an undisclosed sum. According to Elsevier this purchase, along with other recent acquisitions, signals the company’s shift from solely being a publisher of academic journals to being a research and technology data management business. And bepress believes that joining with Elsevier will allow them to provide more services to their customers while enhancing their current products and services with increased analytics capabilities.

The response within the academic library community to this event has been decidedly mixed. While many are taking a wait-and-see approach, a fairly significant and highly vocal contingent within the library world have voiced their strong fear and concern over these developments.

While some worry about the lack of transparency in the deal, the primary issue for most is simply the involvement of Elsevier at all. For many, Elsevier has earned an extremely negative reputation for price gouging and other unfair practices and the fear is that Elsevier’s commercial financial objectives will poison the support that bepress has historically had for the academy and academic libraries.

At the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) annual meeting in December, the situation was addressed from several perspectives. Librarians from Penn discussed their plans to ultimately leave bepress, including identifying current alternatives to the Digital Commons product and exploring the possibility of developing a new product that would include support for, among other things, online institutional repositories. But the managing director of bepress also held a session to address librarians concerns and explain plans for the future.

Why might this acquisition matter to you as a researcher?

  • With the Elsevier acquisition of bepress in addition to Mendeley, SSRN, and Plum Analytics, the possibility arises that scientists will become locked-in to a prescribed academic workflow.
  • Elsevier has a history of removing or issuing take-down notices for self-submitted content in SSRN and other self-arching websites. Concerns have been raised that faculty research archived within the repository could potentially be affected in a similar manner.

The University Libraries have, at this time, adopted a “wait and see” approach. We’ll keep you informed of any changes and welcome your feedback.

-Contributed by Glenn Bunton

Finding and Using Datasets for Research

Not all researchers collect new data during the course of their investigation. Many find new uses for data previously collected by other researchers, or integrate existing data and newly collected data into research projects. Data that is openly available for redistribution and reuse is called open data. Reuse of data available through open repositories reduces the need for duplication of effort, saves time and money, and adds value. For more on open data, visit the Open Data Factsheet from SPARC.

There are plenty of places where you can find datasets to use in your research. Many funders, such as the NSF, NEH, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Institute for Education Sciences, and others require that data collected during funded research be made public after the project’s completion. The government also makes a lot of the data it generates publicly available. These (and other) datasets are available for reuse to reproduce results or for a different purpose. Here are just a few places to find open datasets.

ICPSR – Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. The University of South Carolina is a member institution, and USC-affiliated users can download datasets. For more on creating an account with ICPSR, click here. – This searchable directory lists data repositories by discipline. It’s a useful way to find the archives containing the types of data needed for specific projects.

Figshare – Search or browse datasets from a number of disciplines.

Data Citation Index – A subscription database available from USC’s University Libraries, DCI provides the Web of Science search interface to find datasets from repositories around the world.

Still want more? See additional lists here or here or here.

You’ll need to find and understand the terms of use for the dataset you want to use. Open datasets should allow for reuse and distribution by anyone. Usage terms are commonly provided through a Creative Commons license. They may require that the user provide attribution and license their resulting dataset under the same terms. More information about Creative Commons licenses can be found here.

It’s important to cite the dataset you use in order to give the researchers who collected it credit for their work. Although no formal style for data citation exists, a recommended format is:

Creator (PublicationYear). Title. Publisher. Identifier

Or, if version and type of resource are available:

Creator (PublicationYear). Title. Version. Publisher. ResourceType. Identifier

Here’s an example:

Allegrucci, Giuliana; Sbordoni, Valerio; Cesaroni, Donatella (2015): Polymorphism estimates in sampled
populations of Dolichopoda cave crickets. Figshare.

Many repositories provide citations for their datasets that you can copy and paste or download.

If you would like assistance finding a dataset to use in your research, I’d love to help. Please contact me at, 803-777-1968, or make an appointment with me at

-Contributed by Stacy Winchester

Sharing through ScholarCommons: UofSC’s Institutional Repository

By Brent Appling

Our last post covered recent issues associated with sharing research on popular scholarly networking sites, but there are other options out there for USC researchers who want to make their work freely available.

ScholarCommons is the institutional repository (IR) for the University of South Carolina, and it supports archiving and distribution of work that is copyright free or has the approval of the copyright holder. This can include works-in-progress, copies of published articles, book chapters, and conference papers. The repository also houses student work such as presentations, dissertations, master’s theses, and undergraduate honors theses. ScholarCommons is unique not only because it contains the work of USC affiliates, but also because it hosts several journals that are published or managed by USC faculty, such as Studies in Scottish Literature, a leading publication in its field.

Managed by University Libraries, ScholarCommons is an essential tool that can exponentially expand the global visibility of the university’s scholarly output. Take a look at the readership map for a visual representation of how often, and from where, the work in the repository is being accessed. The IR platform is powered by Digital Commons, which provides a network of institutional repositories and has quickly become a standard service for many colleges and universities. This means items in ScholarCommons are discoverable by any other institution that utilizes the Digital Commons network, and vice versa.

Submitting your work to ScholarCommons is quick and simple: create an account and follow the prompts to upload your materials. Make sure your author agreement allows archiving in an IR; you can use SHERPA/RoMEO to check general publisher policies. To supplement the text of articles, you can include sound and video files, data sets, and executable files. Within ScholarCommons, you can choose to have your work listed in a discipline-specific collection. Additionally, uploaded items are indexed by Google and Google Scholar, making them discoverable on the open web.

Questions about how you can increase the reach of your work by archiving it in ScholarCommons? Please contact


ResearchGate v. The Coalition on Responsible Sharing

By Kathy Snediker

There’s been a lot in the news lately about major publishers threatening take-down notices and litigation against the scholarly collaboration network ResearchGate. The situation has yet to fully play out, but here’s where we are now.

Over the past several years, it has become increasingly common for researchers to share their published papers online, particularly on popular scholarly networking sites like and ResearchGate, whether or not they have the legal right under copyright law and/or the author agreement they signed with the publisher. The sites take the stance that while they explicitly ask users to comply with copyright law, they aren’t responsible for enforcement.

Not surprisingly, most publishers object to the unauthorized sharing of copyrighted articles and have tried different methods for addressing the practice, including allowing authors to “self-archive” submitted versions (as opposed to the final published version – see Springer, Wiley, Elsevier examples.) They’ve also used legal actions, like in late 2013 when Elsevier sent thousands of takedown notices to and other sites including universities. Yet unauthorized online sharing proliferated.

So what’s the latest? Publishers, claiming they have tried unsuccessfully to negotiate solutions directly with ResearchGate, have formed a Coalition on Responsible Sharing to take action against the site, including threatening a massive number of take-down notices. Also Elsevier and the American Chemical Society have filed a lawsuit against the company in Germany where ResearchGate is based. It appears that ResearchGate may have given in to the pressure and started removing copyrighted articles, though the company has not made a formal public announcement about it.

There is certainly a lot of debate over whether researchers should have the right to share their own papers freely wherever they choose, regardless of publishers’ views, but as of now that’s not a legal reality. Though in many cases, the difference between legal and illegal behavior can be simply posting a pre-print or post-print version instead of the final version, or adhering to the embargo period set by the publisher.