Web Archiving at UofSC – Happy World Digital Preservation Day!

World Digital Preservation Day by the Digital Preservation Coalition is shared under a CC-BY-NC-SA license.

Happy World Digital Preservation Day! Here at the Libraries, we recognize the importance of digital preservation to ensure that digital content remains secure and accessible over the long term. Last year, we shared information about the people involved in progressing digital preservation within the Libraries. This year, we’re introducing a new service to preserve digital projects.

Over time, digital humanities and digital scholarship projects may degrade or become inaccessible due to platform updates, domain expirations, or various other reasons. However, these sites often take years to develop and contain valuable data and research that remain important to the scholarly community and beyond. This content should be preserved for future use, even if the website is no longer unavailable.

To preserve these digital projects, the Libraries uses a wget command to create a zipped file containing all of the elements of the website, including the HTML, CSS, metadata, multimedia, and other files. This is called a WARC (Web ARChive) file. Not only does the WARC file preserve the content, it also allows individuals to view the website as it was previously available by either downloading a WARC player, such as the Webrecorder Player, or by viewing it in the browser with the help of tools like Replay Web. Once we’ve produced the WARC file for a digital project, we make it available in Scholar Commons, UofSC’s institutional repository. You can check out our collection of archived digital projects from https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/digipro.

If you have a digital scholarship project you’d like to preserve, let us know! You can submit a request through our brief intake form or reach out directly to the Digital Research Services department.

-Contributed by Amie Freeman

Open Access Week 2021

The theme of Open Access Week 2021 is It Matters How We Open Knowledge: Building Structural EquityWhat does this mean? Essentially, it is not enough that knowledge output is freely available. We must also focus on building up the infrastructure of open access in a way that is inclusive, equitable, and sustainable. These goals call for a commitment to the creation of structures that enable anyone, anywhere to act as both producers and users of scholarly knowledge.

OA Week 2021 logo

To celebrate Open Access Week, the University Libraries is hosting a series of Open Access Week activities. We hope you’ll join us for:

Open Access for Researchers – Tuesday, October 26, 2021 from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Register (Online)

Open access to research allows scholarly literature to be freely shared few restrictions. In this session, we’ll discuss the basics of open access publishing, advantages of making your work openly available, and ways that you can publish open access. We’ll also discuss advances in online publishing that have led to the rise of predatory publishers who abuse the open access publishing model for financial gain. You’ll learn to identify and avoid predatory publishers while increasing the visibility of your work in this session.

Open Access Information Table – Thursday, October 28, 2021 from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Scholar’s Corner, Thomas Cooper Library

Stop by to chat with a librarian and learn more about open access, equity, and inclusivity in scholarly publishing and readership. We’ll have snacks and library swag to share.

We also encourage you to enjoy free open access events hosted by other institutions. Many can be found by visiting Open Access Week 2021 and exploring the conversations surrounding open access on Twitter.

-Contributed by Amie Freeman

University Libraries Commit to Open Access Initiative

Last spring, we discussed the costs of publishing open access and the various models that can support the creation and publication of openly available research. Publishers, institutions, societies, and authors continue to search for fair and sustainable means of providing barrier-free access to scholarship. A familiar model uses APCs (author processing charges) to support publishing costs.

But what of the other less familiar but pragmatic approaches? Today, I’d like to review a collaborative, community-centered approach to open access (OA) publishing and talk about why the University Libraries supports such initiatives. This model depends on funding commitments, usually from libraries or institutions, to collaboratively support the publication costs of scholarship, resulting in the end-product being made available to all.

Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

Let’s walk through how this could work. Instead of many libraries buying separate copies of a published book, several of those libraries could pool their money to pay for publishing costs. Without the need to recoup publishing costs, the publisher can immediately make the book freely available online to anyone who wants to read it. The library has paid about the same price for something they would have purchased, but others beyond their affiliates benefit from the investment as well.

This type of model not only benefits those who have invested in the publication of the content, but other stakeholders who might not otherwise be able to access the research: practitioners, underfunded institutions, journalists, K-12 educators, and even policymakers. If institutions equitably contribute to diverse initiatives in lieu of exclusively purchasing unique content, overall costs could potentially decrease while access increases.

One initiative that has used funding commitments to publish open access content is Knowledge Unlatched. To support emerging publishing models and open access to research, the University Libraries pledged funding for two collections through Knowledge Unlatched. If the KU Select 2020 Communication, Cultural and Media Studies Collection and the KU Select 2020 Modern Languages and Linguistics Collection are fully funded, all of the titles within will be “unlatched” and published openly. If the pledging goals are not fully met, as many titles as possible will be made free to access. These valuable collections are carefully curated and include titles from Bloomsbury, De Gruyter, and other well-known publishers.

We are optimistic that other institutions similarly perceive the benefits of open access publishing and will be able to support these valuable initiatives.

-Contributed by Amie Freeman

New NIH Policy Expands Requirement for Data Management and Sharing Plans

Recently, the National Institutes for Health (NIH), the agency of the US government primarily responsible for biomedical research, released an update to its 2003 data sharing policy. The revisions hold ramifications for health research workflows and more importantly, the new policy, which will go into effect on January 25, 2023, sets an improved standard for data management and sharing in health sciences research.

The new NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing covers all research funded by the NIH that results in the creation of scientific data. The NIH defines scientific data as “The recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate and replicate research findings, regardless of whether the data are used to support scholarly publications” (NIH DMS Policy). The new policy sets an expectation that a data management and sharing plan must accompany all proposals for research that will produce scientific data, an expansion on the previous requirement that only proposals over $500,000 include such a plan.

A draft of the new policy was released last year with a request for public feedback. Here, summaries of public comments and the wording of the new policy can be found. While the NIH encourages sharing of research data, the new policy stops short of requiring that the sharing of all data becomes the norm. A number of commenters felt that the NIH should have voiced a stronger commitment to data sharing, although this new policy does encourage sharing more strongly than in the past. Interested readers might consider reading through the public comments and changes made to the draft based on that feedback.

Although the new policy doesn’t go into effect until January of 2023, planning for these changes should be considered now. For NIH researchers who haven’t needed a DMP in the past, there are many resources available to help with data management and sharing plans, including these: Elements of an NIH Data Management and Sharing Plan, Selecting a Repository for Data Resulting from NIH Supported Research. And for those looking for a template and more guidance, DMPTool is an online resource that helps researchers create data management plans that meet specific funder requirements, including the NIH. As funder requirements change, the staff at DMPTool update templates and guidance, ensuring that researchers are prompted to include all needed plan components. For more help with planning for the management of research data (federally funded or otherwise), contact Digital Research Services at the University of South Carolina Libraries.

–Stacy Winchester, Research Data Librarian

Celebrating GIS Day through Career Discovery

In celebration of GIS Day, 2020, I interviewed my brother, John Foster, Senior Manager, GIS at Apex Clean Energy to learn how he uses GIS in his profession.

Getting Started
In 2001 John received a master’s in Environmental Planning at UVA’s School of Architecture. While in graduate school, he happened to take a class in GIS, which was a relatively new discipline at the time. Upon graduating, this experience helped him land a job at a local land trust. There was one other colleague at the time working on GIS and the two of them worked together for seven years, honing their analytical and mapping skills.

In 2009, John was hired by a renewable energy development start up, Apex Clean Energy, based in Charlottesville, VA. At the time the company had around 20 employees, and had its sights set on developing utility scale wind projects throughout the Midwest for utilities and corporate entities. Helping answer the question of where (and where not) to develop, the need for GIS support increased as the company grew to 200+ employees. While the GIS team at Apex currently consists of 8 full time Analysts and Developers, the company’s Environmental, Land, and New Markets departments have also added team members proficient in GIS. Apex’s projects completed to date range in size from 100 to 525MW, and total over 4GW of wind and solar power providing electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes, and companies such as Apple, Facebook, Starbucks, IKEA and McDonalds.

Data Gathering with GIS
Within the GIS team, Analysts are assigned to specific solar and wind project development teams, and provide critical information throughout the development process. The wind projects tend to be more complex, because they range in size from 20,000 to 45,000 acres, and can include thousands of parcels of land owned by hundreds of landowners, whereas the solar projects are significantly smaller in scale geographically.

The majority of the data used to site wind and solar facilities is publicly available and gathered by Apex’s New Markets GIS Analysists, and then handed off to the GIS team, which uses it to create the blank canvas on which project facilities (turbines, underground 34kV collection lines, access roads, and overhead transmission lines) are designed. Areas to avoid, otherwise known as setbacks, are calculated using a Python script which takes into account the type of feature- houses, barns, pipelines, roads, and then the dimensions of the wind turbine, which typically exceed 500’ in height. These setback distances are determined by local zoning ordinances, as well as industry accepted safety standards. Additional data is collected by wildlife consultants who conduct surveys for the presence of endangered species, such as eagles, bats and prairie dogs. Consultants also provide GIS data related to air space constraints, and geology, but ultimately it’s the landowners who agree to lease their land to the project that determine if a project gets sited within a community.

Data Sharing
The foundation of the GIS team’s ability to share data throughout the company is a web map, known internally as “Atlas,” which is built on ESRI’s Portal and Enterprise GIS software platforms. As the quantity of data managed has grown, new web maps have been created specific to solar and wind, as well as project and department specific web maps. As the goal of the GIS team is to provide as much transparency as possible into the spatial data influencing the placement of facilities, company wide facing web maps offer the best visibility into the data the GIS team manages.

Everyday Work, Changes, and Possibilities
What John likes about his job is helping people find answers to questions quickly and efficiently using this powerful software. Although some of the spatial analysis can be repetitive, the use of Python, algorithms, and machine learning have automated many of the processes and increased the accuracy of analysis. John thinks the future of GIS will bring more automation, and an ever increasing flood of data from companies like Google, Microsoft, and local governments. The biggest challenge at the moment seems to be quality control. While many operations have been automated, the human eye is still required to catch many of the nuances that are difficult to decipher in an aerial image or a complex map.

Although John has learned most everything he knows on the job, he does recommend taking advantage of the immense amount of training on ESRI’s website, as well as online courses available at colleges, universities and community colleges in your area. While programming languages such as Python are becoming essential, having the ability to effectively communicate details and complexity with a single map or image is equally critical.

If this post interests you, check out Apex’s paid internships, where you will be on the front lines assisting the company with their next project.

— Contributed by Kate Foster Boyd and John Foster