Open Access Week is a global event that highlights the movement to provide worldwide access to scholarly literature without the need for expensive journal subscriptions. You’ve probably heard of “think globally, act locally” in regard to environmentalism, but this way of thinking can also be applied to open access. By promoting a worldwide event like OA Week, we hope to inspire members of the Northeastern community to adopt an open access mindset where possible in their research, teaching, and campus activities. I’ll be writing a new blog post each day this week highlighting some of the work we’re doing here at Northeastern to support open access as well as the amazing things that are going on at other colleges and universities. I hope you’ll get inspired to learn more about how open access can dramatically improve the availability of information to everyone. First, you probably know about IRis, our digital archive of scholarship, publishing, and preservation. (And if you don’t know about it, now’s the time to find out!) But did you know that IRis contains over 1,700 items, from doctoral dissertations to undergraduate capstone projects to Faculty Senate meeting minutes? It’s like a time capsule for the university that keeps getting more and more comprehensive each week. And all the materials in IRis are intended to be openly accessible to the entire world — so it’s not like one of those databases that asks you to sign in with your myNEU username and password from off-campus. That means we — well, you, since it’s your material in IRis — get visitors to IRis from all over the world. It’s a fantastic way to showcase your research to a global audience, and anyone at Northeastern can participate. Visitors to IRis in 2010 In a previous blog post, I highlighted the impact IRis can have — an article on Wired.com cited an undergraduate engineering capstone project, bringing the student group 300 downloads of their project in a single month!
Earlier this summer, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an eye-catching article on digital repositories, using the University of Nebraska’s outstanding repository as its main example, as well as highlighting IDEALS at the University of Illinois and Harvard’s DASH repository. The Chronicle titled this article “Digital Repositories Foment a Quiet Revolution in Scholarship.” The revolution, we are given to understand, is that institutional repositories (or IRs) are finding their greatest successes in providing access to a previously untapped wealth of knowledge. And it’s a quiet revolution because these resources aren’t necessarily the most flashy — they’re the so-called grey literature (unpublished papers produced by institutes or research centers, conference proceedings, etc.) and the unique materials held by an institution that are not duplicated in the way that traditional library holdings are. An IR can provide global access to materials that might otherwise stay hidden in someone’s file cabinet — that is a revolutionary concept! Here at Northeastern, our Archives and Special Collections department has developed digital collections that spotlight its unique materials. And IRis, our digital archive of Northeastern’s intellectual output, provides access to materials that might otherwise remain unseen. We are actively developing these and other digital library services in order to expand the global reach of our collections. I read this Chronicle article and thought, someday I’d like Northeastern to be highlighted as a shining example of how digital repositories can change the way we gain access to information. So, let’s take on the quiet revolution and make some noise! What kinds of material would you like to see in IRis, in our online archival collections, and in our growing digital library?
On March 9, 2010, the popular website Wired.com published an article titled “Mile-High Mega Kites Could Pull Giant, Floating Power Plants,” by author Alexis Madrigal. Madrigal cited the work of six NU students, and included a link to their capstone project, which had been published in IRis, Northeastern’s digital archive of scholarship. In the past 2 months, their capstone project, “Hydroelectric Power Generator: Technical Design Report,” which the students created in the course MIME1501 in May 2002, has been viewed 350 times by readers of the Wired article. Congratulations to student authors Anthony Chesna, Tony DiBella, Tim Hutchins, Saralyn Kropf, Jeff Lesica, and Jim Mahoney! Want to increase your citation rate? Submit your work to IRis!
Founded by the Northeastern University English Department and published for over three decades, Studies in American Fiction is a well-regarded, peer-reviewed journal that covers both “emergent writers and canons, as well as American literary classics.” IRis has a small selection of recent articles, and will hopefully include more backfiles in the future. In Studies in American Fiction you can find articles on authors as diverse as John Cheever, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Sarah Orne Jewett, and on topics as diverse as missionary literature, Orientalism, and temperance. IRis also includes additional contributions from the Northeastern English Department, and you can even browse in IRis for more exposure to the fascinating array of subjects being studied by Northeastern’s other departments and research centers.
In addition to its academic departments, Northeastern University hosts multiple interdisciplinary research centers and institutes. These centers are the source of a great deal of original research. Many of them have chosen to place their publications and presentations in IRis, the Libraries’ digital archive that collects, manages, preserves, and shares the intellectual output and historical record of Northeastern University. One such center is Sport in Society, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. This center conducts research and offers programming and outreach with a mission of using the power and appeal of sport to foster diversity, prevent violence, and improve the health of local and global communities. Sport in Society has submitted an extensive set of reports, presentations, and research articles to IRis. You can read about athletes with disabilities and their legal rights to participate in recreational and sporting opportunities, or about violence linked to teams or universities with Native American mascots, among many other topics. Browse in IRis and you can find out about the fascinating array of subjects being studied by Sport in Society and many of Northeastern’s other research centers.