GW ScholarSpace Is the Next Step toward A 21st-Century Library

Repository highlights university commitment to scholarship during Open Access Week, this week.

October 19, 2015

By Brittney Dunkins

In the 21st century, libraries are not limited to long study tables and dusty shelves of books. 3-D printers, computers and other technology have made these campus hubs more responsive to how modern students learn.

At the George Washington University, the next step in that evolution is the launch of GW ScholarSpace, an open access repository for scholarly work created by GW students, faculty and staff.

“Creating an institutional repository was a natural progression because we have had increased demand from faculty who want to share their work with multiple groups and students who want more access to journal articles and research,” said Matt Mihalik, GW Libraries director of information technology.

“GW ScholarSpace will raise the visibility and accessibility of faculty research and student work. It’s the way that things are moving for libraries.”

Designed by GW Libraries, GW ScholarSpace will store the academic work of the GW community, including academic papers, articles, data sets, artwork, photos and other digitized works. It will act as a permanent record of the scholarship produced at GW.

All works stored in the repository will be publicly accessible but will require a citation when repurposed. Authors who submit to GW ScholarSpace retain the rights to their work and can indicate the level of accessibility for each piece submitted. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to provide a Creative Commons license, which allows free distribution and use with proper citation.

The project is an example of the university’s commitment to an “open access” environment. GW defines open access as the “free availability of journal articles on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link” to these works. The Faculty Senate approved the Open Access Policy in February.

GW will join colleges and universities across the country in observing Open Access Week with a series of events Oct. 19-25.   Provost Steven Lerman and GW Librarian and Vice Provost for Libraries Geneva Henry served as the keynote speakers for the Catholic University of America’s Open Access Week headlining event last Tuesday.

“We’re looking forward to educating the university community about the benefits of open access,” said Data Services Librarian Amanda Gooch. “ScholarSpace puts the power in the hands of the author to make a contribution to university scholarship that is permanently accessible.”

GW ScholarSpace is modeled after similar projects at Rice University and Harvard University. To date, more than 517 higher education institutions around the world have created open access repositories.  

Ms. Gooch said that the growing number of institutions with open access repositories indicates a cultural shift of which publishers are aware. Typically, publishers embargo a work for a specific time and will often allow the author to use it as he sees fit. A waiver form is available to those whose publishers do not permit them to submit their work to the GW repository.

“These stipulations are often spelled out in publishing contracts, and if not, faculty should know that they have the right to control access to their work,” Ms. Gooch said. “If faculty have questions about this process, they can reach out to the library staff, and we can talk them through it.”

To upload a work, students, faculty and staff will fill out an online deposit form. Library staff will manage and publish the materials. Once uploaded, a work is assigned a permanent link, and there are no restrictions on the number of times it can be downloaded. Citation software such as Endnote is also compatible with the repository.

“There is so much great work coming out of the university, and we hope everyone will see this as a record of the scholarship of GW,” Mr. Mihalik said.

View a full list of GW Open Access Week events held at the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library.

Wednesday, Oct. 21

Open Access Salon
9:30 a.m., Room 219
The GW Libraries Scholarly Communications Committee will host an informal salon to introduce faculty and students to the GW Open Access Policy. A presentation on ScholarSpace will begin at 10:30 a.m.

Responsible Conduct of Research Lecture Series: Data Acquisition and Management
Noon to 1:30 p.m., Room 702
The Office of the Vice President for Research will host a panel discussion with Jody Ganiban, professor of psychology; Tara Sinclair, professor of economics and international affairs; and Alexander J. Van der Horst, professor of physics. University Librarian and Vice Provost for Librarians Geneva Henry will speak.


Thursday, Oct. 22

ETDs: Open Access vs. Traditional Publishing
12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Room 219
Valerie Emerson, ETD (Electronic Thesis and Dissertation) administrator, will lead a workshop on the interface for uploading a thesis or dissertation with a special emphasis on explaining the difference between open access and traditional publishing.

Friday, Oct. 23

Celebration of Faculty Authors
3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Room 702
This invitation only reception will celebrate all faculty members who published works in 2014. 

Tuesday, Oct. 27

Open Access Salon
4:30 p.m., Room 219
The second informal salon hosted by the GW Libraries Scholarly Communications Committee will introduce students and faculty to the GW Open Access Policy. A presentation on ScholarSpace will begin at 5:30 p.m.