open access

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.

Expanded Access to Online Research During COVID-19 Situation

While the COVID-19 virus has made completing the spring 2020 semester more complicated, including leading to the closure of the Snell Library building, Northeastern University Library’s staff is dedicated to continuing to provide quality research service and resources to students, faculty, and staff. Users can still get assistance from library specialists and can access our databases and electronic books, journals, and streaming videos online. For more information about accessing library services remotely, visit library.northeastern.edu/resilience.

In addition to the efforts of Northeastern University Library staff, many publishers of scholarly resources have attempted to ease the stress of this difficult situation by temporarily making their resources freely available. The library will be updating Scholar OneSearch to reflect this new access, and you can see the list of new resources below. This list will be updated as new resources become available.

AccessAnesthesiology

AccessAnesthesiology is an award-winning medical reference and teaching platform that delivers world-renowned, interdisciplinary content integrated with analytical teaching and learning tools. McGraw-Hill has made its AccessAnesthesiology collection available until September 14. Northeastern University credentials required.

AccessEngineering

AccessEngineering is an award-winning engineering reference and teaching platform that delivers world-renowned, interdisciplinary engineering content integrated with analytical teaching and learning tools. McGraw-Hill has made its AccessEngineering collection available until September 14. Northeastern University credentials required.

Annual Reviews

Annual Reviews provides definitive reviews in 37 scientific disciplines, focusing on biomedical, physical, and social sciences. It is an excellent source for finding overviews of new topics. Annual Reviews has made all journal content freely available until June 15.

Cambridge Companions

The Cambridge Companions collection contains guides to literature, authors, topics, periods, and more. Cambridge University Press has made access to this collection free until at least June 30. Northeastern University credentials required.

Cambridge Elements

The Cambridge Elements collection combines the best research on a topic from various sources, on topics throughout the arts and sciences. Cambridge University Press has made access to this collection free until at least June 30. Northeastern University credentials required.

Cambridge Histories

The Cambridge Histories collection provides access to more than 350 volumes in 10 subject areas focusing on various aspects of history. Cambridge University Press has made access to this collection free until at least June 30. Northeastern University credentials required.

Cambridge Textbooks

Cambridge Textbooks provides access to more than 700 textbooks in a wide variety of disciplines. Cambridge University Press has made access to these textbooks free until June 30. Northeastern University credentials required.

De Gruyter Ebooks

De Gruyter has made more than 69,000 ebooks available through June 30. Northeastern University credentials required.

EBSCOhost Databases

EBSCOhost has made the following database collections available through June 30. Northeastern University credentials required.

GeoScienceWorld

The Geological Society of America and several of their partner publishers have made their ebooks freely available on GeoScienceWorld through June 30.

Harvard Business Review Ebook Collection

More than 600 titles from the Harvard Business Review Collection are available through EBSCOhost through June 29. Northeastern University credentials required.

JoVE Science Education

JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments) Science Education is a video database dedicated to teaching laboratory fundamentals through simple, easy-to-understand video demonstrations. Each video is paired with additional video resources for you to view practical applications of the technique and other complementary skills. JoVE has made all Science Education modules available through June 15. Northeastern University credentials required.

JSTOR Archival Journal Collections

JSTOR has opened additional journal collections for use, including Ecology & Botany II, Hebrew Journals, Jewish Studies, Ireland Collection, and Lives of Literature, through the end of 2020. Northeastern University credentials required.

JSTOR Primary Source Collections

JSTOR has made the Global Plants, 19th Century British Pamphlets, Struggles for Freedom: Southern Africa, and World Heritage Sites: Africa primary source collections available through the end of 2020. Northeastern University credentials required.

JSTOR Public Health Journals

This set of  26 public health journals has been made freely available by JSTOR in collaboration with various publishers through the end of 2020.

LitCovid

LitCovid is a curated literature hub for tracking up-to-date scientific information about the 2019 novel Coronavirus, compiled by the National Institutes of Health. It is the most comprehensive resource on the subject, providing a central access to more than 1000 relevant articles in PubMed. The articles are updated daily and are further categorized by different research topics and geographic locations for improved access.

Microbiology Society Journals

The Microbiology Society has made their collection of scientific journals focused on microbes free for until further notice.

MIT Press Direct

MIT Press Direct contains ebooks on wide variety of subjects. MIT has made more than 3,000 of those titles freely available through June 30.

PolicyMap

PolicyMap is a mapping tool for accessing data on demographics, real estate, health, jobs, and more about communities across the U.S. to make better-informed decisions. It is freely available through August 15. Northeastern University credentials required.

ProQuest Coronavirus Research Database

ProQuest has assembled a database of only available articles concerning coronavirus and related topics. All content is open, although Northeastern University credentials are required.

The Royal Society Journals

The Royal Society has temporarily removed all paywalls for its journals, which focus on the sciences.

University of California Press Journals

The University of California Press has made all of their journal content freely available through June.

Data Fest is coming in February

Since Love Data Week and Endangered Data Week both happen in February, we thought we'd use this month to showcase some of the great data-related services and resources we have to offer here at Snell. We're calling it Data Fest, and you're invited!     Here's a taste of what we have planned: Stop by and lend a hand at our Citizen Science: Health Hackathon Make friends with your command line at our Intro to the Unix Shell workshop Learn how to create impressive charts & data visualizations at our workshops on Tableau and free web-based tools   And more! Check out the full lineup and register here: http://bit.ly/snelldatafest18   

Open Access Week is 10 Years Old!

The theme of this year's International Open Access Week, "Open in order to...", highlights the multitude of reasons why Open Access is important to researchers, students, funders, patients, and everyone else who benefits from increased sharing of knowledge. This year marks the 10th celebration of International Open Access Week, held during the last full week of October to advocate for fewer barriers between people and the information they need. At Snell Library, we support Open Access in lots of ways. In 2016, our staff adopted an open access policy for our published research and presentations - you can find them in our Digital Repository Service. These materials have been viewed almost 2,000 times and have been downloaded by readers more than 1,000 times! If you're a researcher at Northeastern and would like to get started using the DRS to make your work more accessible to readers around the world, it's easy. Also of interest to researchers: we've recently updated the page on our website about Open Access, and it now includes a list of publishers that offer Northeastern-affiliated authors a discount on the article processing charges for publishing open-access with them. Snell Library also supports Open Access journal publishing on campus through Open Journal Systems (OJS). We currently work with four journals being published at Northeastern - including NU Writing, which recently moved over to our OJS system from the platform it was previously using. NU Writing just released their first issue using OJS! And, we support Open Access publishing and sharing through our memberships in initiatives such as the Digital Commonwealth, the Digital Public Library of AmericaHathiTrustKnowledge Unlatched, and SCOAP³. In October 2008, we celebrated the first international Open Access Day at Snell Library. Since then, as the Open Access movement has grown, we’ve expanded our programming as well – first, with Open Access Week, and then in the past two years with Open Access Month in October. This year, we’re expanding the concept even more – we want to highlight openness in research, teaching, scholarship, and creativity throughout the academic year. After all, at this point, open access is something that we should be acknowledging as an established facet of the scholarly ecosystem, rather than a special topic that only gets attention once a year. So, stay tuned for open access–related news and events to come. Banner image and poster openly licensed by SPARC, CC BY 4.0

October is Open Access Month!

Open Access Month header

 

In October the Library celebrates Open Access Month—a time to highlight the importance of making research and information more accessible without cost. Events throughout the month will showcase many ways in which people here at Northeastern and around the world are working to make Open Access a reality, including projects in which you can participate! 

Open Access Month: Schedule of Events

Download a PDF schedule!   Zotero in 30 Minutes Tuesday, October 4, 2:00-2:30 DSC Media Lounge Learn about using Zotero, one of the most well-known free, open source citation management tools, to organize your research. Track and gather all of your research in one place and automatically format citations and bibliographies—bring your laptop to get started right away. DH Open Office Hours Wednesday, October 5, 12:30-1:30 DSC Media Lounge Understanding copyright and fair use in the Digital Humanities will be the focus of this week’s regularly scheduled DH Open Office Hours. Citizen Science in Action with Zooniverse Thursday, October 6, 4:00-7:00 DSC Media Lounge Want to see how easy it is to contribute to citizen science research?  Drop in for a hack-a-thon style session and work with us on a Zooniverse project!  No prior experience is necessary. We’ll provide guidance (and pizza!), just bring a laptop or tablet to participate. More info available here! Refreshments will be served. Wikipedia Edit-a-thon Wednesday, October 12, 4:00-7:00 DSC Media Lounge Join us to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of under-represented groups in Massachusetts and U.S. history. This hack-a-thon style session will focus on editing and updating Wikipedia pages in a group setting. You do not need any prior experience with Wikipedia to participate. We’ll provide guidance, just bring a laptop or tablet to participate. Refreshments will be served. Managing Your Research Output for STEM Graduate Students Thursday, October 13, 11:00-12:00 422 SL Learn how and why to share your conference posters, presentation slides, codebase, and other products of your graduate research. Bring your questions about author rights, copyright, theses/dissertations, and anything else relevant to managing your output! We’ll provide info on resources available for you at the Library and elsewhere on campus. DSG/NULab Fall Welcome Event Monday, October 17, 3:00-6:30 90 SL Join the DSG and NULab at 3:00 for a keynote by Dan Cohen, Founding Executive Director of the Digital Public Library of America. This event will also feature lightning talks by Northeastern students, staff, and faculty about their recent work in digital scholarship, from 4:00-5:15. It will end with an informal reception where you can continue the conversation with area colleagues. Because space is limited, please register at bit.ly/DSGNULab2016 by October 10. Refreshments will be served. Decoding the Dragon Wednesday, October 19, 12:00-2:00 DSC Seminar Space Learn to read Northeastern University’s only medieval manuscript with faculty member Erika Boeckeler. Write Gothic letters with quills, tweet using medieval texting (aka abbreviationes), get a parchment souvenir and a Gothic henna tattoo. Level up through activities to become a "scribe" and contribute original research that will integrate into the manuscript's website. We’ll provide guidance (and pizza!), just bring a laptop or tablet to participate. Refreshments will be served. Sourcing Multimedia for Your Course Thursday, October 20, 10:30-12:00 140 SL The Internet offers a variety of public domain and Creative Commons images, movies, and documents that may be used to support teaching and learning. Learn strategies for finding relevant media and crediting the media appropriately. Hosted by Academic Technology Services Creating Interactive Open Educational Resources Friday, October 21, 1:00-3:00 140 SL This course will show you the basics of using Storyline to create interactive educational resources. You’ll learn how to incorporate open source multimedia, create your own text, audio, and image content, and create interactive features. Finally, we’ll discuss options for publishing on the web and posting to open educational resource aggregator sites. Hosted by Academic Technology Services Storing and Sharing Files Using the Digital Repository Service Monday, October 24, 2:00-3:00 DSC Media Lounge Did you know the library can help you preserve your project and research materials, while also making those materials accessible on the web? This session will introduce faculty, staff, and students to the Digital Repository Service, the library's trusted resource for storing digital materials created or acquired by the Northeastern community. Data Management Plans and the DRS Tuesday, October 25, 12:30-1:30 DSC Media Lounge How can you effectively share and preserve research data while fulfilling grant requirements?  This session will describe the library’s support for research data management, including the DMPTool as an option to generate data management plans, and the Digital Repository Service as an option for preserving and sharing research data. Refreshments will be served. Film Screening & Discussion: The Internet’s Own Boy Tuesday, October 25, 4:00-6:00 90 SL Join us for a screening of a special one-hour edit of this documentary about programmer and Internet activist Aaron Swartz. An audience-guided discussion will follow the film. Refreshments will be served. Archival Collections Transcribe-a-thon Wednesday, October 26, 4:00-7:00 DSC Media Lounge Digitized collections of manuscripts and ephemera need help from human eyes to be more useful to readers and researchers. We’ll highlight several major archives where anyone can participate in transcribing digitized materials online and get you started on some of these fascinating projects, which range from historical restaurant menus to explorers’ logbooks to anthropologists’ field notes. Drop in at any point during the session and bring a laptop or tablet to participate. More info available here! Refreshments will be served. Hypothes.is in 30 Minutes Friday, October 28, 11:00-11:30 DSC Media Lounge We’ll go over the basics of how to use this open-source annotation tool in your research and teaching! For more information and to sign up for an account in advance, visit hypothes.is.