Month: March 2017

Open Education Week 2017

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Open Education Week, March 27-31, is an opportunity to celebrate and raise awareness about the abundance of free and open educational resources (OER) available to teachers and learners around the world. OER are written by experts and often peer-reviewed, just like their commercial equivalents, but they are published under open copyright licenses so that they can be downloaded, distributed, and adapted for free. Many excellent examples of OER are available through online portals such as OpenStax College, the Open Textbook Library, OER Commons, BCcampus, and MERLOT.

To celebrate the growth of OER and the exciting opportunities they present, educational institutions from all over the world are coming together during Open Education Week to showcase what they are doing to make education more open, free, and available to everyone.

To mark the occasion at FSU, University Libraries and the Student Government Association are partnering to bring the #textbookbroke campaign to FSU. #Textbookbroke is a national campaign aimed at informing students about open textbooks, OER, and other low-cost alternatives to traditional textbooks. It is also aimed at empowering students to provide feedback on their course materials and encourage their instructors to explore more affordable alternatives. Stop by our event tables at Strozier Library on March 28th and Dirac Library on March 29th to share how much you spent on textbooks this term and learn about textbook affordability initiatives at FSU!

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In addition, FSU Libraries will also announce the successful applicants for its Alternative Textbook Grants program, which was launched in late 2016 to support FSU instructors who are interested in adopting or remixing open textbooks and educational resources to replace commercial course materials. Based on the applications we have received thus far, participating instructors could save FSU students up to $100,000 by the spring of 2018!

For more information about the open education movement and related initiatives at FSU, see our research guide on OER, or contact Devin Soper, Scholarly Communications Librarian at FSU Libraries’ Office of Digital Research & Scholarship. And don’t forget to follow the conversation on Twitter! #textbookbrokeFSU

Automagical Repository Harvesting

Over the last couple of years, FSU Libraries dedicated librarians and staff to in-house development of an institutional repository platform that is open-source, flexible, and modular. I was hired as the full-time repository specialist for the Office of Digital Research and Scholarship recently and I quickly realized the strategic importance of the institutional repository concept: its purposes, benefits, and potential future impact intersects with the key issues surrounding libraries, technology, scholarly communications, and digital scholarship today.

One of my early tasks focused automating metadata harvesting from other repositories. Figuring out a time- and cost-efficient way to tackle the tracking and depositing of new publications is a key challenge in the field of scholarly communication today. Aside from the issue of how much time this takes per scholarly object, this framework lends itself to human error and, as a result for researchers, decreased scholarship discoverability, accessibility, and validity, which at times can be in tension with the overall goals and purposes of an institutional repository. Publicly accessible APIs provided by public repositories offer the chance to eliminate or greatly reduce the time it takes to process a deposit and the risk that bibliographic information will be inaccurately transferred from one system to another.

In response to this challenge, I have developed two tools to increase the efficiency of repository ingest. PMC Grabber is a PHP-based tool that uses PubMed Central’s APIs to programmatically search the PubMed Central database, pull metadata from the database, and transform the metadata for ingestion into FSU’s institutional repository. With this framework, the Libraries can run constructed searches every six or twelve months and stay on top of new publications from FSU researchers posted in PubMed without a hassle. While the tool does not fully automate the ingestion workflow from harvest to deposit, it significantly mitigates the time-intensive task of manually discovering and creating ingest records for individual articles.

PMC Grabber Workflow Diagram

PMC Grabber Workflow Diagram showing distinct steps, database table layout, and outcomes.

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SQLite database management menu after using PMC Grabber.

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SQLite database embargo table populated after a search using PMC Grabber.

The other tool, codenamed WOS (Web of Science) Grabber, combines a workflow using different tools and applications as well as the core concept of PMC Grabber. The goal is to capture all FSU-affiliated publications appearing in Web of Science with minimal participation necessary on the part of authors. Using a combination of Web of Science searches, Zotero, SHERPA/RoMEO API calls in Google Sheets, and OpenRefine, thousands of publications can be identified and staged for ingest. The end result of the workflow  is a set of publications that can be filtered to discover different sub-sets of articles: (1) those that can be deposited into an institutional repository as publisher versions with no author intervention; (2) those that can be deposited into an institutional repository as accepted manuscripts/final drafts; and (3) those that only allow pre-print versions to be deposited into institutional repositories. Using WOS Grabber I was able to quickly and easily identify over 2,000 articles published in 2016 affiliated with FSU. 500 of these articles (a good 25% of all Web of Science indexed scholarship from FSU!) were open access and were immediately added to our ingestion queue, and a little more than 1500 of the articles were identified as allowing final draft deposit into a repository.

Overall, my involvement with this projects has been positive and signals a promising future for repository managers looking to leverage emerging technologies and centralized repositories. My experiences suggest that through the use of new tools and technologies, what is still being described as an unmanageable goal is quickly becoming a feasible solution for institutional repositories. Libraries with sufficient resources (in terms of skilled personnel and funding) should continue to push the envelope in this area and discover different ways to improve repository workflow efficiency and, ultimately, user access to scholarship. If my experiences are any indication, an investment in and a focus on this kind of work will have great returns for everyone involved.