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Institutional Repository: ODU Digital Commons

Why would I want my work to be included in ODU Digital Commons?

ODU Digital Commons serves as an archive of university, student, and faculty publications, and showcases some of the great work being produced here. An institutional repository benefits the institution, the researcher and anyone interested in scholarly outputs. From an institutional perspective it provides a record of scholarly activity taking place within the university. For a researcher, it creates stable and reliable records of your work.

If you include your work, it will:

  • Be given a permanent link that you can use to share your work with friends and family.
  • Be accessible from all around the world by scholars and researchers.
  • Help highlight the quality of work from ODU students and faculty.
  • Give you monthly reports on how often your work is being accessed.
  • Help you build a portfolio for future employment or for faculty tenure.
  • Establish publication dates to prevent copyright theft.

Can I have my paper in the Digital Commons and still publish it in the journal of my choice?

Most journal publishers now allow authors to deposit their papers in repositories, but different journals have different rules. If you are unsure about a particular journal, email us and we'll help you figure it out. 

Some allow inclusion in a repository before (pre-print) or after (post-print) the paper's publication. Some have an embargo period between publication and deposit in a repository. Some will also stipulate how post-prints should be formatted. The SHERPA project website gives details of publisher's current policies on self-archiving and copyright.

If you're ready to sign a publishing agreement, make sure you investigate the option to self-archive (in the university repository).

I don't have electronic versions of old papers. Is it okay to scan the printed page to a PDF file?

Yes -- scanning printed pages is a great way to create PDF files for inclusion in the repository. There are two ways to scan a page: using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) or scanning the page as an image. Making OCR scans requires careful proofreading and loses the original formatting of the documents. Image scans cannot be searched. The best solution takes advantage of both of these methods. Many software applications allow for the OCR capture of image scans. When documents are scanned this way, users see the image scan but search the full-text of the document. This is the preferred method for scanning documents for the repository.

How do I get my work in the repository?

Initially library staff will deposit works using individual faculty vitae or web pages. Any faculty or researcher wishing to establish an account for self-archiving is encouraged to do so.  

Contact the repository manager for details:  Karen Vaughan kvaughan@odu.edu

How do I include accents and special characters in the abstracts and titles?

The repository software supports the worldwide character set (Unicode, utf-8). Accents, symbols, and other special characters may be copied and pasted into the abstract or title field from a word processing file or typed in directly. Windows users may also use the Character Map to insert these characters. Macintosh users may use the Character Palette (available via Edit > Special Characters in the Finder).

What types of materials can be included?

ODU Digital Commons can accept any material that is in digital form, including but not limited to text, video, image, and audio. If your digital object consists of multiple files of different formats, it will be placed in the repository as a set (for example: as a PDF file with associated files).  For materials not in digital form, the libraries can help with digitization.

Possible material to place in the ODU Digital Commons includes but is not limited to the list below:

  • Articles (preprints, post prints, and publisher copies)
  • Book chapters
  • Research projects, reports, etc
  • Data sets
  • Working papers
  • Technical reports
  • Conference papers, presentations, posters
  • Dissertations, theses, capstone projects
  • Newsletters
  • Multimedia presentations (PowerPoint  presentations, podcasts, images, video) 
  • University  publications, archival material, special collections

ResearchGate/Academia.edu vs. Institutional Repositories

There is often confusion about whether to include your publications in ResearchGate or Academia.edu or your Institutional Repository or all three. The University of California Office of Scholarly Communication provides some valuable information that is extracted here:

ResearchGate and Academia.edu (both commercial companies) "are social networking platforms whose primary aim is to connect researchers with common interests," like Facebook or LinkedIn, but for the research community. "Users create profiles on these services, and are then encouraged to list their publications and other scholarly activities, upload copies of manuscripts they’ve authored, and build connections with scholars they work or co-author with." "Although Academia.edu has a “.edu” URL, it isn’t run by a higher education institution. The domain name was registered before the rules that would now prohibit this use went into effect...."

Institutional repositories (IRs) "are generally library-run websites that enable authors to upload a version of their manuscripts for public “open access” display." ODU's is called ODU Digital Commons. "The primary aim of institutional repositories is to make the scholarly outputs of the university as widely available as possible and to ensure long-term preservation of these outputs."

"Subject-based repositories collect publications in a particular discipline or a range of disciplines, so that authors in a field can share and solicit feedback on their work from colleagues in that field, regardless of where they work."

Here are some of the major differences:

Repositories vs Academia.edu vs ResearchGate

Openness and Interoperability:

  • "ResearchGate and Academia.edu do not permit their users to take their own data and reuse it elsewhere." 
  • Institutional repositories "are largely committed to complete openness and re-use of data," which makes them "good places for publications you want people to be able to find."

Long-term Preservation and Access:

  • "Academia.edu and ResearchGate are independent for-profit companies that could theoretically close up shop at any time."
  • "Open access repositories are usually managed by universities, government agencies, or nonprofit associations. ... and are likely to be around for a long time."

Bottom Line:

"In the end, both types of services have unique offerings, and both likely hold some value for researchers. Academic social networking sites, such as ResearchGate or Academia.edu, might be valuable when trying to find others in your field conducting related research, or for providing access to your papers to those people you know use the site.

The value provided by the institutional repository, however — particularly the long-term preservation and commitment to open access, should not be overlooked."