Using PIVOT to Find Funding and Publishing Homes for Your Research

When it comes to finding research funding and publishing opportunities, PIVOT is a valuable resource to make the search a little easier. Interdisciplinary and current, PIVOT provides a variety of ways to access information about grants and calls for papers, and to identify potential research collaborators. The red bar at the top of the page allows users to search by Profiles of successfully funded research; browse and keyword search functions for publishing opportunities is under Papers Invited; and the Awards link provides details about awarded grants, researchers, and sponsors.

[caption id="attachment_275530" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The main page of the PIVOT database guides users on how to search for the latest funding and publishing opportunities for researchers.[/caption]

For new users to PIVOT, a good place to start would be to check out the menu options under Funding Discovery.

The tabs to the right of Funding Discovery allow you to search by text, sponsor, or keyword, and the latter provides a broad alphabetical listing of research topics.

For those that would rather see available resources in their particular research interest and check other related research subjects, users can explore an interactive feature that displays the scope of all available funding within the database. Click on the Funding Discovery link, then Take a Tour and browse by keyword to see how much money is available by research topic.

[caption id="attachment_275531" align="aligncenter" width="300"] This interactive tool breaks down how much funding is available for various fields or topics.[/caption]

As always, if you have any questions about using PIVOT, or any other library resources, contact your subject librarian.

Behind the Scenes of the Freedom House Digitization Project

Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections has thousands of archival records available online through our Digital Repository System (DRS). While exploring our digital collections, you can learn more about the University’s past or dive deep into the history of social movements and community organizations in Boston. One of the library’s ongoing digitization projects is to make the Freedom House records more broadly accessible by digitizing and describing the collection, which provides a fascinating look at community activism in Roxbury in the mid-late 20th century. 

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="435"]Cover of the June 1973 issue of the Roxbury Goldenaires Heart Line newsletter Digitized during this project: The Heart Line newsletter, a source of poetry, humor, political content, and more for elderly Roxbury community members[/caption]

As a digital production assistant, I help to bring these documents from the archival box to your screen. Over the course of a typical day working on the project, I split my time between scanning materials and creating metadata. With archival documents, the scanning process is a bit more involved than simply feeding papers through a scanner. Once I have turned on our scanner and let it warm up, I open our digital imaging software and check to make sure that the settings match our project standards. Before scanning, I wipe the scanner down with an anti-static cloth to ensure there’s no dust or dirt in the image. I dust the scanner after every few documents, but if the materials are particularly dusty or dirty I may wipe it down between each individual scan. Once the scanner is ready, I set the item on the flatbed and pre-scan to get a preview of the digital image and make color and cropping adjustments as needed. From there, I hit “scan” and watch as the software scans and saves the file to our server. After scanning, I write the matching file name lightly in pencil on the back of the document. This creates an easy link between the digital file and the physical material, and helps us to quickly identify whether a document has been digitized. 

Depending on the size of the folders, I may get through several in a day or just one. As I go through a folder, I watch for duplicates (which I don’t scan) and staples, which I remove to avoid scratching the scanner and creasing the paper when scanning later pages in the document. There are a couple of intermediate steps that I take care of before I start working on metadata for a folder. First, I convert all of the newly-created TIFF image files to PDFs, combining any files that make up multi-page documents - the PDFs are the files that will be uploaded for use on the digital repository. Once I have PDFs for each item in the folder, I make the files text-searchable by running them through Adobe Acrobat’s OCR tool. From here, my supervisor conducts image quality control to make sure that the images are up to project standards and to catch any personal information (like a social security number) that may need to be restricted or redacted.

Once a folder has passed through image QC, I create a new metadata spreadsheet for it using a template that our metadata librarians have developed. When I work on metadata, I like to have the spreadsheet and digital files open side by side in my two monitors so that I can easily reference each item while I’m assigning its metadata. I move through the spreadsheet, filling in all of the applicable blanks, like title, creators, genre, dates, and subject headings. These are the pieces of information that will help you search through the digital repository, and they appear alongside items in the repository to provide contextual information about digitized records. The metadata creation process is collaborative: archival material can be complex, so when I come across something that I am unsure about, I reach out to my supervisor and metadata librarians to discuss the problem and come up with an appropriate solution. Once I have finished the metadata for a folder, the spreadsheet moves through a round of quality control before the digital files and accompanying metadata are uploaded to the digital repository. 

The process requires patience and an eye for detail. What I love most about working on this project is getting to learn about the activities that Freedom House was engaged in while working toward racial, economic, and housing justice in Roxbury. It’s exciting to help connect users with these interesting and inspiring pieces of Boston history.

Library Launches Podcast Publishing Service with Northeastern Classes

Is your class starting a podcast? Several Northeastern classes have adopted podcasting instead of the usual term paper or final project, and the library’s Podcast Publishing Team is here to help. Over the past few semesters, Jon Reed from the Digital Media Studios and Brooke Williams from the library’s Research and Instruction team have worked with classes in English, History, Architecture and other departments to help students learn how to create, record, edit and publish their own podcasts.

One of the questions the team was asked when working with faculty was “how do I get my class assignments into Apple Podcasts?” Using the university’s Digital Repository Service and the Library’s CERES Wordpress platform, the Library is able to create a stable website for your class assignment to be sent out to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and the world. The first podcast published was Speak Up! Podcast, coordinated by English Professor Elly Jackson. 

“The library podcast opportunities are as good as they get and should be blasted all over the campus and around the world,” says Jackson. “My classes set up podcast assignments that have now reached 25 published podcast recordings from undergraduate research, and these are up on Apple Podcasts. I believe educational podcasting has a great future and I am proud of the tram at our library's podcasting service. This is a stellar partnership and I cherish their talents and commitment to experiential education.”

Some examples of podcast episodes produced by the Speak Up! students include “Death By Chocolate” and “Jet, Set, Go - A Podcast on Medical Tourism.”

Sarah Sweeney, manager of the Digital Repository Service, and Patrick Murray-John, Associate Director for Systems, have both played major roles in getting the podcast publishing program up and running.

Interested in bringing podcasting into your remote classroom? Email the team at Library-PodcastTeam@northeastern.edu. We look forward to working with you closely if even physically afar!

Affordable course materials: reducing costs and promoting student success

We all remember textbooks. Memories of those big chunky books organized into chapters and sections, with tons of figures and charts explaining everything there is to know about a discipline. We stayed glued to them throughout each semester for the assigned activities and exercises they included. We studied them front-to-back for midterms and final exams.

From Anthropology to Zoology, textbooks are still used heavily. They are written by experts, reviewed by experts, and published by reputable academic publishers and other media companies—they are reliable. The problem is that prices have risen sharply, students in turn are paying more and must often turn to alternatives or choose different paths in the curriculum if none can be found.

Multiple studies have broken down the rise in the price of textbooks. A study concluded early in the last decade showed that between 2002 and 2012 the price of textbooks increased 82%. Another looked at 2006-2016 and found an 88% increase. More studies are underway. As the price of textbooks rises students are spending more; in the 2018-2019 academic year, students spent over $1200 a year on average on course materials, mostly textbooks.

When students can’t afford new textbooks, they have no alternatives but to pool funds to share books, rent, or purchase used copies, or use a copy on reserve at the library. Sometimes the only option is to purchase a new copy of a required textbook when the book includes accompanying online content in the form of activities, quizzes, or other coursework—a used or shared copy is of no use. Given these factors, in various surveys students have reported making decisions on which courses to enroll in based on what the required textbook(s) will cost.

It is no wonder there is a growing movement to utilize free/open educational content, and Northeastern University Library is on the front lines. Working with faculty and partners across the institution, librarians are helping faculty discover, evaluate, and integrate freely available textbooks and other Open Educational Resources (OERs), many of which are authored and reviewed by experts. In the case of Biology, multiple faculty members discontinued use of costly textbooks in favor of freely accessible, open texts: students enrolled in various Biology courses have saved over 100K since the summer of 2018. In related work, librarians are working to ensure faculty know how to maximize use of library-subscribed content such as online journal articles and e-books through dynamic reading-list creation tools and other services.

The library is actively presenting, creating partnerships, and raising awareness about the issues students face, and the options faculty have for finding and integrating alternatives and utilizing existing library content. Savings will continue to grow as the library works with more departments. The library is proud to be a part of this important movement.

For more information, visit the Affordable Course Materials guide.

Discovering Roxbury

Northeastern University has the advantage of being surrounded by many different and distinct Boston neighborhoods. The Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections works to preserve the voices from these communities by collecting from different organizations. One of the newest collections available is from the non-profit organization Discover Roxbury.

As its name implies, Discover Roxbury aims to help people, both locals and tourists, to discover all of the things Roxbury has to offer. Originally named the Bridges Program, this organization was started by Marcia Butman in 1995 in order to introduce urban neighborhoods to suburban parents and students in the METCO program. The organization offers foot, trolley, and bike tours that include visits to historic sites, art galleries, and restaurants. These themed tours are lead by trained Roxbury residents passionate about sharing their knowledge on the history of the neighborhood and its current vibrant arts and culture scene.

Butman’s vision for the organization has always been collaboration, which has led to partnerships with organizations such as the Roxbury Cultural Network, The First Church in Roxbury, Roxbury Heritage State Park, and the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau. Through these partnerships Discover Roxbury has been able to hold events supporting local artists such as Roxbury Open Studios and ArtRox, events supporting local restaurants and cuisines like Roxtoberfest, as well as holiday pop ups and their annual fundraiser Heart of the Hub held at the historic Hibernian Hall located in Dudley Square. 

The collection includes marketing materials for events and programs, administrative materials, and research used for teaching resources and tour scripts. The collection is currently unprocessed, but if researchers are interested in using the materials, please contact archive staff at archives@northeastern.edu.