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.

Open Access Week 2017

An important topic to many of us at the University Libraries is the sustainability of the scholarly publishing system. We care about the affordability and accessibility of research not just to USC affiliates, but to the larger research and learning community. That’s why we’re celebrating Open Access Week 2017 by focusing on the theme selected by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC): “Open in order to…“.

What does “Open in order to…” actually mean? To me, it means examining the practical implications of making research openly available. It goes beyond the theoretical concept of “open access,” with all of its positives and negatives, to celebrate what can actually be accomplished when research is not only free, but can be adapted and built-upon by others.

During Open Access Week 2017, we’ll give a number of researchers the opportunity to discuss what publishing openly has allowed them to accomplish. The library is hosting two events in celebration of Open Access Week:

Increase the Impact of Your Research and Share Your Work by Retaining Your Rights

October 24, 11 am – 12 pm, Thomas Cooper Library Room 412 (Level 4)

Register to attend:

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 scrutinize publication agreements, negotiate your rights to make your research more widely available, and find publishers with unrestrictive copyright policies.

Faculty Panel: Open in Order to…

October 26, 11 am – 12 pm, Thomas Cooper Library Scholar’s Corner (Main floor)

Please join us for a panel discussion of USC faculty on publishing open research. Each panelist will discuss the tangible benefits and potential pitfalls of making their research openly available. No registration is necessary.


Steven Rodney, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Lisa Bailey, Darla Moore School of Business
Patrick Scott, Department of English Language and Literature
Susan R. Rathbun-Grubb, School of Library and Information Science

For more information on Open Access Week 2017, please visit

-Contributed by Amie Freeman


What’s New in Data Management Planning at USC?

By Stacy Winchester

Creating a plan to manage your data is an essential component of the research process. Having a data management plan saves you time and resources. It also promotes increased data sharing, transparency, and reproducibility. Moreover, many major funding agencies, such as the NSF and NIH, require data management plans, or DMPs, as part of the grant application process. These documents are generally about two pages long and contain descriptions of some or all of the following:

  • Roles and responsibilities of research project personnel
  • Types of data to be collected
  • Data formats and metadata to be used
  • Access, sharing, and privacy concerns
  • Policies and provisions for re-use and re-distribution
  • Data storage and preservation plan
  • Costs

University Libraries at USC offers several resources to help you create a DMP that meets funder requirements.

Online Guide to Data Management

Learn about the principles of data management, including data management planning, metadata, sharing data, regulations and security issues, and more!

Collection of DMPs by USC Researchers

View data management plans for funded projects written by USC researchers. Plans are available for NSF and NIH projects.

Data Management Planning Workshops

Learn about the data management planning process and get hands-on experience with DMPTool, an online wizard for creating DMPs that meet specific funder requirements.

Data Archiving Consultation

If you’re applying for funding from the NSF or a number of other agencies, you may be required to archive your data to make it available for re-use. Information about the data repository you select may be required for your DMP. Although USC doesn’t currently have a university-wide archive to permanently store datasets, many discipline-specific and general data repositories around the world accept research data. is a directory of data repositories across many disciplines worldwide.

ICPSR, the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Science Research, is the world’s biggest archive of digital social science data.

And, there are many non-discipline specific archives like these:

DataOne Dash

If you’d like help finding an open repository for your datasets to satisfy funder requirements and promote data sharing and re-use, contact me at or 803-777-1968.

Open Education Week Recap

Your librarians love a good excuse for a fun event or three. Open Education Week took place this year from March 27-31, and we embraced the opportunity to share our enthusiasm for the Open Education movement.

What did we learn during our week of festivities? A few things:

  1. There’s room for the movement to grow across campus. We’d like to spread basic awareness of what open educational resources (OER) are: freely available teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under a license allowing for their reuse and re-purposing by others. In a nutshell, this means that there are plenty of materials free from costs and restrictions out there that faculty can utilize in their courses. Want to learn more? Visit
  2. Our Textbook Heroes are lifesavers. Faculty members Lana Burgess, Karen Edwards, and Shelley Jones, who have saved their students money by switching to OER, were able to share their stories in an engaging panel moderated by Thomas Cooper Library Circulation Department Head Tucker Taylor. If you missed it, you can still read some of their stories from
  3. Our students are still paying way too much for textbooks. When asked how much they spent on textbooks over the past year and what they could have purchased instead, our students had some interesting answers:
    Some of our favorite potential purchases include “600 chapsticks”, “12 chocolate lab puppies”, and “new clothes for a job”.

If you missed our events during Open Education Week, don’t worry. You can always contact Amie Freeman or Tucker Taylor, visit our guide at, or come to a workshop to learn more about Open Educational Resources.

Contributed by Amie Freeman

Altmetrics: New ways of looking at attention and impact

Altmetrics, formally introduced in 2010 with an online manifesto, are alternatives to the traditional measures of scholarly impact. They are meant to supplement, not replace, existing metrics and filters such as peer review, citation counts, and Journal Impact Factor (JIF). Altmetrics are a response to some criticisms of these traditional metrics as well as the movement of scholarship to the web.

The scholarly environment and scholarly output have become more diverse and accessible, and old methods of measuring impact aren’t keeping up with what’s possible. Researchers now easily share not only their published research articles but also their presentation slideshares, posters, datasets, software code, personal blog posts, and other work online. And these various research outputs are now shared and discussed through a variety of channels, including social media and the popular press. Unlike citation counts, altmetrics can measure attention to all types of research output within and beyond academic publications. For example:

How many people have stored the article in a citation manager like Zotero or Mendeley?
How many times has a dataset or a slideshare been viewed? Downloaded? Shared? Tweeted?
How many news stories in the popular press mentioned the research?
How many citations does it have in public policy documents?
How many views did a blog post get? How many comments, and what are they saying?
How many syllabi include it as a course reading?

These examples demonstrate some of the major advantages of altmetrics, including their speed and diversity. And because the source data for some altmetrics is also readily available, such as what is being said in those comments and tweets that are being counted, the best altmetrics provide context and qualitative assessment in addition to quantitative measures.

But altmetrics are still relatively new and, like all metrics, have their own limitations and potential for manipulation. There is still plenty of discussion and debate about how to define them and how they can and should be used. Do they measure impact or simply attention? How are they viewed by administrators, T&P committees, or funding institutions? Right now there may be more questions than answers, so find out more and join the conversation!

Contributed by Kathy Snediker

Open Access Publishing: A Primer for Researchers

Open Access (OA) literature consists of peer-reviewed publications that are freely available online and are free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. This mode of publication allows authors to share their work without restrictive access barriers and to retain copyright of their material. In general, open access allows for the pursuit of open data, open government sources, open education resources, free and open-source software, and open science. This all sounds wonderful, but there are plenty of caveats to know about in order to make smooth use of Open Access publishing, both as a researcher and as an author.

An essential element of OA publishing to be aware of are the different models of Open Access publishing.

Gold Open Access (OA Journals):

Gold Open Access generally refers to peer-reviewed journals that make their published content freely available online. In this model authors retain copyright of their work, and licensing of Open Access materials are typically made under a Creative Commons license.  Access to Gold OA materials is often made available directly after publication, which can potentially lead to faster impact and a wider engagement with the scholarly community.

The costs of Gold OA publishing are usually covered through publishing fees, also known as Article Processing Charges (APC). These costs vary among titles and disciplines, though in many cases there is no APC at all. For publishers that do require an APC, it is done so to cover the costs of everything involved with the publication of the eventually disseminated material, such as editorial work, marketing of journal content, and maintenance of domain and server space. Funding to cover APCs vary greatly among academic institutions. Most APCs are expected to be covered by the author, and the range of these costs also vary.  For example, the APC for PLoS One journals range from $1,495-$2,900 per article. Authors may have options through their parent institution to apply for grants or other funding means to help cover the cost of APCs. Also, specific publishers, like PLoS One, and certain scholarly societies may provide additional funding options.

Green Open Access (Institutional Repositories and Self-Archiving):

The Green Open Access model deals mostly with institutional or subject repositories as well as with self-archiving of an author’s work.  Publishers that support Green OA publishing allow authors to house their work in an institutional repository, a subject repository, or on their personal website. ScholarCommons, managed by the Thomas Cooper Library at the University of South Carolina, is a great example of an institutional repository where faculty members of the university have the option to archive their work. Subject, or disciplinary, repositories can accept materials within specific fields of study, regardless of an author’s institutional affiliation.

Often publishers that support this model will only allow pre-print versions of the articles to be archived this way, though some do allow for the full published PDFs to be archived. This matter is completely up to the publisher though. In order for an author’s work to participate in Green OA, the publisher of the material must allow the author to do so. SHERPA/ROMEO is an excellent tool for finding out if a publisher allows for self-archiving within their author agreements.

Another key thing to know about Open Access is the different levels of Open Access, or “openness,” that exist within scholarly publishing. There is a spectrum of “openness” among individual journal titles that include all elements of reader and author rights.  For example, a publication that is determined to have a high level of openness will allow for readers to access articles freely and immediately upon publication and will allow authors to hold copyright of their work with no restrictions. Alternatively, a closed publication requires a paid subscription, pay-per-view, or membership in order to access a published article and the publisher will hold copyright with no author reuse beyond fair use. The Open Access Spectrum Evaluation Tool can with assessing a publication’s level of openness.  The spectrum that the tool uses is shown below.



Contributed by Brent Appling

Welcome to the blog of the University Libraries Scholarly Communications Team!

Welcome to the blog of the Scholarly Communications Team of the University of South Carolina University Libraries! We’re a group of assorted librarians with plenty of thoughts and ideas on how laws and technology affect information. We specialize in a number of areas throughout the library: research, resource sharing, collection development, and technology systems. While none of us are specifically “scholarly communication librarians”, in a way, we all are. Our different vantage points gives us insight on how scholarly communications affect our different areas of the library, and how we work together as a whole.

So, what is scholarly communication? It’s a fancy term to describe the way we create, evaluate, share and preserve research. As a team, we like to focus on new and emerging trends in scholarly communications like open access and altmetrics. But we’re all stakeholders in scholarly communications. When you want to borrow an article but you’ve reached your limit, that’s scholarly communication. When a graduate student writes his dissertation and you preserve it in your repository, that’s scholarly communication. When you discover that you don’t have access to the full text of an abstract, that’s scholarly communication. All these issues we face daily, and they’re all scholarly communications. It’s the new way to library.

So, while our team and our blog may be new, we’re old hands in the scholarly communication field—just like many of you. Scholarly communication may be a fancy term with new buzzwords and tools, but the underlying foundation of sharing and preserving information is still what we do. It’s just today’s interpretation. We’re looking forward to sharing our thoughts on scholarly communication topics, both old and new. Maybe you’ll have some thoughts of your own to share with us, too.

Contributed by Amie Freeman