Goodbye for now

The Scholarly Communication @ISU Libraries blog is closed but Scholarly Communication services continue at the Iowa State University Library.

Please see: for the most up to date information on what we’re up to and how to contact us.


Open Access Week 2015


October 19-25th is International Open Access Week and we celebrating here at Iowa State University! Open Access Week provides an opportunity for the research and academic community to learn about the benefits of Open Access. To start of the week, let’s cover a few Open Access basics:

What is Open Access?
Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles, coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment.
Open Access challenges the current research landscape, which requires readers (and libraries) to pay large, and increasing, subscription fees to access research.

Although many researchers can access the journals they need via their institution and think that their access is free, in reality it is not. The institution has often been involved in lengthy negotiations around the price of their site license and re-use of this content is limited.
-PLOS “Open Access”

What can you do to promote Open Access? 
Do you publish research? There are a variety of ways to publish Open Access. You can find a publisher that produces Open Access journals OR you can self-archive versions of your work in a repository. For ways to publish Openly, see the Open Access Research Guide:

Learn more.
There are plenty of great resources out there on Open Access, here are a few of our favorites:
Open Access Without Tears by Barbara Fister
SPARC Open Access
A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access by Peter Suber

Examples of Open Access at Work
PLOS ONE is a multidisciplinary, peer reviewed Open Access journal. PLOS (Public Library of Science) applies the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) to all works published. Works are published through Open Access publication fees and are made available to all readers, no matter their institution or lack thereof.

Digital Repository @ Iowa State University
Iowa State’s repository provides free, public access to the research and scholarship of Iowa State’s faculty, students and staff. This includes: journal articles, conference proceedings, theses & dissertations, and much more.

Resources for the Digital Repository @ Iowa State University:
FAQs about Digital Repository @ Iowa State University
Resources for Authors
Resources for Departments
Email DR@ISU with your questions.

Open Access is just one aspect of scholarly communication that libraries are invested in promoting. It is our hope that through investigating new modes of publishing, altmetrics, open peer review, open data, author rights, fair use, and Creative Commons licensing we can unlock research, support researchers, and empower the public.

Check out this blog every day this week with more updates and further information on Open Access.

ISU Library to host 2015 ACRL Scholarly Communication Roadshow!

You may have heard back in late December that Iowa State University is one of four sites chosen to host the ACRL Scholarly Communications Roadshow Workshop “Scholarly Communication: From Understanding to Engagement” in 2015. The application was a joint effort by Iowa’s three regent university libraries: Iowa State University, University of Iowa, and University of Northern Iowa. We only received confirmation of the date and speakers a short while ago and are in the process of pinning down all of the details of this exciting event.

You can sign up to be notified when more details are available, or to ask a question, on the event page.

What we can tell you is…

When: Wednesday April 15th, 2015. The workshop is an all day event.

Where: Iowa State University, Ames, IA.

The presenters: We are excited to announce that Stephanie Davis-Kahl (Scholarly Communications Librarian, Illinois Wesleyan University) and Kevin Smith (Director, Copyright and Scholarly Communication, Duke University Libraries) will be co-presenting the workshop.

Who should attend: Practitioners. “The workshop is appropriate for those with administrative responsibilities, with new leadership assignments in scholarly communication or digital publishing, as well as liaisons and any others who are seeking to advance their professional development in scholarly communication.” – ACRL.

How do I sign up? We are NOT taking reservations at this time but if you are interested in possibly attending please fill out the form at the bottom of the event page.

Will there be any registration costs involved? We hope not, but cannot commit to this yet as we are still busy working out all of the details. If there is a fee it will be minimal.

Altmetrics workshop recap: part 2 – The workshop and reflections on altmetrics

This is my final reflection piece on our first Altmetrics workshop which was held on Thursday November 13th. Sorry it took me so long to post; life and work happened.

3 (+2) Librarians

There were about 16 attendees in-person (I think there were more but only 16 turned in an evaluation and I forgot to count – lesson learned) and 4 online attendees. I was very happy to see that we had participants not only from across campus but in various stages of their careers. We had three librarian presenters at the workshop and two more helping with recording and chat support. At first I was worried that three presenters might be too many but it worked. I had spent a lot of time developing the guide and experimenting with different altmetrics tools but Emma, who is savvier with Twitter than I, was able to answer some of the questions I was unsure about while Lorrie, who is a tenured professor as well as a librarian, was able to speak in terms of “as faculty.” Having a variety of views and experiences seemed to get people’s attention and hopefully allowed everyone, regardless of where they were in their career, to relate to the topic.

We had a good time and sharing helped.

We ran the workshop in a fairly loose manner. If one of us had something to add we’d run up to the person with the mic and speak into it or have the person with the mic repeat the comment. We also received some excellent questions from the audience. Once we have some more time we plan to create a list of all of the questions, but one of the most noteworthy questions asked was if we knew of any other land-grant institutions using altmetrics to track the reach and usage of extension work. The answer was no, not that we know of, but there’s no reason why Iowa State can’t be the first!

I also took a risk and made an example of myself. I shared both my bepress author dashboard and my Impactstory profile, which, as I’ve gone on record, is less than impressive since I’m only a year and a half into my career (and my first paper is stuck in “approved” status atm). I also shared a copy of an email update that Impactstory sent me the day before the workshop. While the numbers in the email are, once again, less than impressive, they did show that small increases every week add up. I jokingly asked my audience to “not judge me” when I showed them my profiles. Lorrie also logged into her ORCID iD profile since hers is much better developed than mine and she has more experience with its quirks. A number of Impactstory Advisors give me permission to share their profiles for the workshop – thank you very much everyone! It really helped!

For now, things are messy.

One of the things we ran into when developing the guide and during the workshop was the inherit messiness of the internet and altmetrics. I think it’s fair to assume that most people don’t understand how linked data works so the value of a DOI or an ORCID iD is not readily apparent. Nor is it easy to explain why some platforms and websites support altmetrics, why others don’t, or if they do, why they work differently or are incompatible with other systems. Because of this messiness, we had a number of questions on what ORCID iDs are and how they work with Impactstory, online resumes, repositories, etc.

It is my belief that the messy nature of the altmetrics landscape is one of the main barriers to participation. Research Gate and for example provide some metrics but neither shares this data outside of their system and the data is limited to interactions within the system. Our own repository, a bepress repository, provides metrics but only to the authors. Closed systems such as these reflect a flaw in their approach to altmetrics: that altmetrics are only a benefit to the authors, not the “users.” This belief is also reflected in how Scopus has implemented the Altmetric API – it only displays on item records and cannot be used as a re/search aide. Hopefully the closed systems out there will see the benefits to “opening” their data. Impactstory’s greatest strength is that it provides one central location to collect and manage all of your (open) altmetrics data. This seemed to be a major selling point with our workshop attendees.

Altmetrics are for everyone.

Altmetrics are often portrayed as a “science thing.” Yes, the movement and idea sprung from the science disciplines and they have been among the earliest adopters, but altmetrics are not a “science thing” any more than the internet is a “science thing.” Altmetrics simply are. How and what they are used for is up to you. I took a lot of care when crafting the guide that accompanied the workshop to use neutral language in order to keep altmetrics discipline-neutral.  It turned out that this was a good thing as the workshop had more participants from humanities and social science departments than from science and engineering departments. Altmetrics work for all disciplines and our workshop attendance shows that it’s not just the science community who’s interested in participating.

And Impactstory, I love you, but your advertising talks about “scientists” (scroll down on the homepage to see “for open scientists” as the first selling point) not “researchers.” Food for thought.

Altmetrics workshop recap: part 1 – the Altmetrics Guide

Instead of writing one large post I’ve decided to break it up into multiple posts. In this first post I’ll cover the guide that was made to anchor the workshop.

Start and stay simple.

One of my guiding design and writing principles is keep it simple. That’s not always easy to do when discussing something as complicated as altmetrics. I knew we couldn’t get too in-depth because while the workshop was an hour and a half we needed to plan for only an hour of content, that way we would have enough time to do the hands on part, answer questions, and troubleshoot problems. So, with Emma’s help, we broke altmetrics down into three main ideas to cover:

What are altmetrics? Where do altmetrics come from? How do I make altmetrics work for me?

The first page would serve as an introduction to the concept of altmetrics – i.e. of measuring/monitoring research impact beyond the printed page. I broke this up into 4 sections: defined, why they matter, how they work, and, at Kelly’s suggestion, altmetrics vs. Altmetric (the company). The second page would cover where altmetrics are “found.” This was actually kind of a hard thing to parse so we approached it with the goal of “if I wanted to locate all of my altmetrics, where would I need to look?” This page ended up with the name “Where do altmetrics come from?” which invokes images of storks but was also the most straightforward name for the concept we wanted to cover. Lastly we wanted to make a page that would provide a list of services that are “altmetrics friendly.” Since this was an introductory guide I choose to name it “Make altmetrics work for you” since that was the goal of the page.

Write for your audience.

I wrote most of the copy on the guide over a period of a couple of weeks. I took inspiration from many places including the PLOS Altmetrics collection, the original manifesto, and from other guides on the topic. While there is a lot of information on altmetrics available much of it is either 1) targeted to a specific type of audience or 2) long or advanced in nature. This guide was to be neither of those things. It needed to be an introduction to the topic which meant that I needed to make it relatable to our audience which could include faculty, administrators, graduate students and other librarians.

So I started from scratch.

I tried to keep each section short and straightforward. If there was something that needed two paragraphs I reread it multiple times to make sure it was necessary. I repeated certain things in the right places but tried to say something once and to make sure it was meaningful when I did. This is harder than it sounds but I think it paid off. Lots of thanks to my proof readers (who were also fellow presenters) – I am a horrible speller and typist.

Make it pretty.

For every text section I choose icons from Icons8 that symbolized the concept being covered. I’m a visual learner, and I find large blocks of text on webpages to be very unfriendly and a bit difficult to read. So, because I knew I’d be presenting this guide on a “smaller” screen, and to make reading easier, I increased the font sizes and spacing. This pushed some important content “below the fold” but since infinite scrolling websites like Pinterest and tumblr have gained popularity this is a dying idea. As long as there was something to catch the eye near the bottom of the screen people would scroll. The icons and images helped with this, as did the large headings.

I will add a word of warning to fellow librarians using LibGuides 2 – the editor often “breaks” when images are involved. Springshare got three reported bugs from me because of this guide. Be prepared to have to edit the html when it gets messy. To make damage control easier I put most of the text/image pairs in their own content boxes. I still had to devote an unexpected 90 min the night before the workshop on the guide due to bugs, so be ready!

In closing

So not only do we have a guide with that’s full of original content that’s tailored to our audience, we also have a guide that’s visually pleasing and easy to navigate. It may be my art degree talking but I find those last two to be nearly as important as the first two. If you have any feedback on the guide, or find an error, please let us know! After getting some attention on Twitter this afternoon I also added a CC-BY license to the guide on the “About” page. This is something that’s going to be rolled out onto all of our guides but hey, why wait?

In the next post I’ll cover the actual workshop.

Open Access & the Land-Grant Mission: Discussion Panel

One hundred and fifty years ago, Iowa State University was officially designated a land-grant college and operated on the belief that education should be accessible to all. Although a lot has changed in 150 years, including the way we teach and research, Iowa State remains committed to the ideals of the land-grant mission. To honor the continued commitment to educational and research accessibility, researchers from across campus will join members of the library to discuss a future in which we can truly, “share knowledge far beyond the campus borders.”

Open Access & the Land-Grant Mission

Memorial Union Sun Room
Tuesday, October 21st