Open Access Journals

Beginning in the 1980s but accelerating over the last decade, libraries have been unable to keep pace with the skyrocketing costs of scholarly journals. For both private and publicly-supported research universities the publication “circle” looks something like this: 1) scholar obtains money to conduct research, perhaps through government grants or internal, tuition-supported funding; 2) scholar conducts and then publishes research in peer-reviewed journal; 3) university library “buys back” scholarly research from for-profit or societal journal publishers. The problem? Academic libraries, whose budgets sometimes do not even take inflation into account from year to year, can no longer afford to buy journal titles, especially in the sciences. Did you know, for example, that the annual $19,396 paid by Brown University Library for the journal Nuclear Physics A & B, matches the price of a “new midsize car” (Brown University’s George Street Journal).

Libraries and others who care about open access to scholarly information are fighting back. “SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system… It’s pragmatic focus is to stimulate the emergence of new scholarly communications models that expand the dissemination of scholarly research and reduce financial pressures on libraries” (About SPARC). The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is another such initiative. DOAJ defines open access journals as ones that “use a funding model that does not charge readers or their institutions for access” (About DOAJ). Explore DOAJ’s list of 110 scholarly, open access journals in history. 

Who benefits from these initiatives? In my view scholars, libraries, small and even large publishers benefit when research is made readily available to industry and the public at large. Think about it this way: It is reasonable to expect that the public will be more willing to support research that is readily available, and that the impact of this research will be greater and longer lasting.

Perhaps the greatest challenge facing the open access community is scholars’ fear that publishing in open access journals will not advance careers or lead to tenure. After all, academic journals were created in the first place, in part, to promote the careers of authors. Scholars are also often concerned with a journal’s impact factor. Despite these concerns, however, new information technologies and initiatives such as SPARC and DOAJ are here to stay. Consider the benefits of open access today!

Jakobsen Lecture Available on iTunes U

Distinguished professor of women’s studies, Janet Jakobsen of Barnard College, lectured at Paley on April 7. Dr. Jakobsen is the Director of the Center for Research on Women at Barnard. Her research interests include: feminist and queer ethics; religion, gender, and sexuality in American public life; social movements and feminist alliance politics; and global issues of economics. Jakobsen’s research truly crosses disciplinary boundaries, and her engagement with a number of issues crosses the traditional lines established between the academy and activism. This lecture was part of a series presented by the Libraries and the General Education Program, which aims to bring interdisciplinary scholars in a variety of fields to Temple. The departments of Religion and Jewish Studies also played a significant role in sponsoring Dr. Jakobsen’s visit. Dr. Jakobsen’s lecture at Paley Library can be downloaded from iTunes U. When you see the Temple University page, click Paley Library at the bottom, then Janet Jakobsen, then click “Get” and wait for the download to complete. After the lecture, Dr. Jakobsen was interviewed by Professor of History, David Watt, and Professor of Religion, Women’s Studies, and Jewish Studies, Laura Levitt.

Blockson Collection receives collection from Dr. Jack Lutz, College of Ed alumnus

Temple University Libraries, Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection recently received a generous gift of books on education, culture and the arts in Africa by Dr. Jack Lutz, a distinguished alumnus of the College of Education. The Blockson Collection is one of the nation’s foremost research centers on the study of the culture and people of Africa and its diaspora. The collection holds materials with a special emphasis on the experiences of African Americans in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley region. It is located in Sullivan Hall on the main campus of Temple University, and was donated to the university in 1984 by renowned historian, Charles L. Blockson. Dr. Lutz has travelled the world through initiatives and programs that brought a quality education to all. Dr. Lutz spent most of his time in Africa, and from that experience he gained a passion for its culture. He also began collecting books and materials that help tell the history and story of those he met overseas. These books and materials have since been donated to the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University Libraries. Here are excerpts of a broad conversation between Dr. Lutz and Nicole Restaino of Temple University Libraries.

Nicole Restaino: How has your training at Temple’s College of Education impacted your life? You’ve traveled all over the world to bring education to those in need. How did your time at Temple prepare you for this?

Dr. Jack Lutz: Temple’s College of Education, along with the Boy Scouts and my time at Northeast High School, are some of the major influences in my life. My years at Temple imbued in me a sense of service, and I knew that is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I received so much sagely wisdom from so many of the professors at Temple over the years. The tutelage I received while earning my BA, MA and doctorate were truly inspirational.

NR: What struck you about your time in Africa? Do you have any stories or anecdotes about a favorite place or experience? JL: As much as I served Africa, Africa served me ten times over.

I was a professor at Glassboro College (now Rowan University) and was offered an opportunity to join UNESCO as an education advisor. I spent over 24 years in Africa in this position, developing teacher’s colleges. During my time in Africa, I am met my wife, Dr. Paz Lutz. A Fulbright Scholar and doctor of education herself, she served many years in Africa as well. While I was in the village of Abraka, Nigeria developing teacher training programs for UNESCO, I realized that only two universities in Nigeria offered master’s in education. Both universities were quite a way from Abraka, so I proposed the idea of starting a program at the University of Benin, which was much closer. I presented the idea to the government of Bendel State and the university. We all concurred that starting a graduate teaching program was a step in the right direction. And that is when I got Temple on board. I further proposed that Temple professors come teach in Abraka, and the new graduate program would be a joint venture between the University of Benin and Temple University. Shortly thereafter, the Dean of the College of Education at that time, Paul Eberman, along with late Temple University President Marvin Wachman, came to Abraka, Nigeria, to implement the cooperative program with financial help from UNESCO. This arrangement existed for six years, I am proud to say, and graduates were awarded a dual diploma from Temple and the University of Benin. Outstanding master’s candidates in the program were offered an opportunity to study for their doctorate at Temple’s campus in Philadelphia. I believe that many top educators in Nigeria have their doctorate from Temple, in fact. Another important part of my time overseas was my participation in communal life and the rites of passage of the diverse nations I lived in. I spent most of my time in Nigeria and Sierra Leone. I also lived in the Republic of Malawi, Uganda, Ethiopia and Swaziland. In Nigeria I was named Chief Dr. Jack Lutz, the Ehele of Abraka; Ehele being a Uhroba word for an “old warrior, not afraid to stand up and fight.” The cultural practices I was welcomed into have made such an impact in my life. In fact, my wife and I were wedded by a female Muslim magistrate (that’s quite unique!), a Catholic priest, and a justice of the peace while living in Sierra Leone. The warmth and diversity we experienced overseas was extraordinary. When we came back to Philadelphia after our wedding, we were also blessed in front of the Torah at a synagogue by a prominent Philadelphia Rabbi. (We touched all the bases!)

NR: What was your impetus to begin collecting books and objects while in Africa?

JL: I began to amass materials related to curriculum and education in the countries in which I worked. My doctoral area of specialization was curriculum development and I helped to rework curriculum strategies in Nigeria, and documented that process. My interests later expanded and I started exploring materials on art and culture of local communities.

NR: How did you find out about the Blockson Collection? Why did you see this as a fitting home for your outstanding collections?

JL: I knew collection founder Mr. Charles L. Blockson from Norristown, PA, years back, and that is how I first learned about the collection and its mission. My ultimate respect for Mr. Blockson and the collection’s goals to preserve African, African American and African Caribbean culture, led me to make my donation to the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University Libraries. I’m proud to know, as a Temple grad, that the university prioritizes this amazing collection, which is one of the best around on African and African American life. I’m also proud that I could contribute to its mission with my donation.

NR: How can the Temple community benefit from your gift? Are there any specific ways in which College of Education students might utilize the materials now housed at the Blockson Collection?

JL: The materials I donated to the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection are good research tools for the Temple community as a whole. These materials will be of particular use to students in the College of Education, in the areas of comparative educational and cultural studies, in specific. Graduate students can use these primary sources for doctoral and masters level research, while undergraduate classes can have a directed experience with the materials; they can be closely tied to a course syllabus at the undergraduate level. Courses in many areas, such as Africana studies, American studies, International studies and regional/area disciplines will also benefit from the materials. Several of the books, which are on African arts and crafts, should be useful to students in the Tyler school of fine arts as well as students of art history and anthropology.

NR: Thank you so much, Dr. Lutz. Temple University Libraries and the Temple community are certainly thrilled by your contribution to the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection. I can’t wait to see the materials myself, in the collection’s wonderful new home in Sullivan Hall. Thanks again. To finish off our conversation, what are you and Paz doing now?

JL: We continue to be deeply involved with service and education overseas. Most recently, our endeavors have taken us to Eastern Europe, where we served in the Peace Corps, which we joined in 1997, when I was 75 years old. We spent four years in Poland, working in a small town by the name of Nowy Sacz (about 100 miles SouthEast of Krakow), teaching English and instructional methods. Now we live in New Jersey, and ar
e still involved with Temple’s College of Education. I hope that Paz and I inspire others to teach and live a life of service.

Professors Strike Back

What do university faculty think about Rate My Professor and what their students are saying about them at that site? Well, the folks at MTVU recently gave a group of faculty members a chance to react – on camera – to comments their students posted about them at RMP. The videos found at “Professors Strike Back” make for compelling drama, entertainment and even a few “stop and think about that” moments.

Even better, two professors from Temple University are among those featured.Terence Oliva, of the Marketing Department, and Laura Shinn, of the Economics Department, share thoughtful comments about Rate My Professor. But I have to say that one of my favorites comes from Professor David Linton at Marymount Manhattan College. I’d like every student to spend 20 seconds to hear what he has to say about college. In short he says, it’s not about getting a degree – it’s about getting an education. If you approach it as a consumer experience, like buying a car, you are bound to be disappointed.

– Steven Bell, Associate University Librarian

Start Better Study Habits By Avoiding All-Nighters

With the spring semester starting soon it may be a good time to share with students, and their instructors, some timely tips for better study habits. The Study Hacks blog recently featured a post titled “Five Bad Study Habits You Should Resolve to Avoid in 2008“. Well, it is the time of the year for resolutions. Their five bad habits to eliminate include: (1) studying without a plan; (2) skipping classes; (3) rote review; (4) studying after midnight; and (5) not taking notes while reading. Read the post for more details on how and why to eliminate these bad study habits.

And speaking of staying up late to study (item 4), particularly at exam time, a researcher at St. Lawrence University studied the correlation between student sleep time and their grade-point averages. Students reported that they had pulled at least one all-nighter during a semester and that those who did it regularly had lower GPAs. Sounds like avoiding all-nighters is a good way to begin improving study habits in 2008.

-Steven Bell, Associate University Librarian

Creating Research Assignments That “Stick” With Students

Why would the author of a paper start off by relating a story about a lab exercise involving the autopsy of a pig that she experienced as a college student? While it’s not particularly attractive imagery, it certainly does send a powerful message about the tremendous value that authentic learning has for college students. That new paper from EDUCAUSE is titled “Why Today’s Students Value Authentic Learning”.

The author readily admits that authentic learning methods have existed for decades, but with new technologies that can allow it to happen in virtual environments there is resurgence in interest. A 10-point list suggests what constitutes authentic learning:

“has real-world relevance;is ill-defined, requiring students to define the tasks and subtasks needed to complete the activity;

comprises complex tasks to be investigated by students over a sustained period of time;

provides the opportunity for students to examine the task from different perspectives, using a variety of resources;

provides the opportunity to collaborate;

provides the opportunity to reflect;

can be integrated and applied across different subject areas and lead beyond domain-specific outcomes;

is seamlessly integrated with assessment;

creates polished products valuable in their own right rather than as preparation for something else; and

allows competing solutions and a diversity of outcomes.” (3)


While creating a course or instruction program that offers opportunities for authentic learning is more time consuming for both the instructor and student, research supports that students cite relevance as the key value to authentic learning in the classroom. It creates the linkage between course content and how a student envisions and experiences a possible future career. As the report states, “students say they are more likely to engage with the material because they do not regard it as busy work.”

Two skills that all educators know students will need in the 21st century workplace are cross-disciplinary problem solving and critical thinking. Achieving success at both involves gaining proficiency as a researcher. You can’t solve problems or think critically about them if you don’t have high quality information with which to work. Temple University librarians are skilled in helping faculty to develop authentic research assignments that integrate real problem solving into coursework. Working collaboratively, faculty and librarians can develop research assignments that are far more than “busy work” for students. Great research assignments, like the research memories of the author, should be “sticky” so that they stay with students throughout their years at Temple and beyond. Talk to a librarian about constructing a research assignment that is made to stick.

-Steven Bell, Associate University Librarian

More Scholarly Communications Outreach Is Needed

recent study by the University of California’s Office of Scholarly Communicationprovides interesting insights into faculty perspectives and behavior on a range of issues within the scholarly communications arena. The study examines UC faculty members’ sense of the overall health of scholarly communication systems and their perspectives on tenure and promotion processes, copyright, alternative forms of publication, and key services that the University does or could supply (including those of eScholarship publishing). With 1,118 respondents the study is one of the largest surveys of faculty attitudes and behaviors regarding scholarly communication.

Some key findings from the report include:

*Faculty are strongly interested in issues related to scholarly communication.

*Faculty generally conform to conventional behavior in scholarly publication, albeit with significant progress on several fronts.

*The current tenure and promotion system impedes changes in faculty behavior.

*Faculty tend to see scholarly communication problems as affecting others but not themselves.

*The disconnect between attitude and behavior is acute with regard to copyright.

*Scholars are aware of alternative forms of dissemination but are concerned about preserving their current publishing outlet.

*Scholars are concerned that changes in the system might undermine the quality of scholarship.

*Outreach on scholarly communications issues and services has not yet reached the majority of faculty.

While the librarians at the Temple University Libraries acknowledge all these listed issues as important findings, we are particularly interested in the final one that concerns outreach on scholarly communications. As the study indicates, we need to do more to create awareness about these issues. The study found a striking lack of faculty knowledge about the potential for change in the scholarly communications system. One of our priorities is to create greater awareness about these issues among the Temple University faculty and the larger campus community. To that end we will be working to share information about challenges and change in the scholarly communications system, and promote activities and initiatives that we can undertake as an institution to create change.

Read the report and get more information about it.

Steven J. Bell
Associate University Librarian for Research and Instructional Services

Good Advice For Better Research Papers

While the librarians you’ll meet at the Temple University Libraries can offer valuable advice for producing better research results, some traditionally good ideas can be found in unexpected places. That’s why we wanted to share this article “Advice for Students: 10 Steps Toward Better Research” that we came across at the website. Most of the advice may be somewhat familiar, but the way it is presented makes it a good candidate to be a resource for sharing with your friends, colleagues, and students. It would be well worth the time to review these ten steps before starting a research project.

Advice such as “take it one piece at a time” and “have a system” are, as mentioned above, time-tested ideas that can be used to avoid becoming overwhelmed by research. But we like two particular items on this list of ten. As you might have guessed, we like them because they emphasize the importance of two things that are essential for research success: know your sources and ask for help. Temple University librarians are available to help with both steps. First, we can tailor individual or group meetings, instruction sessions, or resource lists to any class or assignment. This can provide significant time savings researchers can get directly to the resources that will provide the most help. Second, we offer multiple ways to ask for help. We have our friendly reference desk, an instant messaging service (AskTULibrary), traditional phone service (215-204-8212), sophisticated virtual chat reference, and students can even e-mail us their requests for help (see all options at our Ask a Librarian page).

As the article indicates in boldface “most librarians will be happy to help you find relevant material”. Nowhere is that more true than at the Temple University Libraries. Please let your friends, colleagues, or students know that the librarians are here to help. The only piece of advice we would want to add to the list is: “if you don’t ask, librarians can’t help you.”

-Steven Bell

Seven Things about Wikipedia

What more do you need to know about Wikipedia? It’s the sometimes controversial online encyclopedia of the people, and its content dwarfs that of conventional encyclopedias. What we also know is that college students all too often rely on Wikipedia entries without fully evaluating the accuracy of the content. Then perhaps there is something new to learn – how to leverage Wikipedia as an instructional technology to better equip students to read and gather information with a critical eye. To help educators and librarians to better understand the issues related to the use of Wikipedia by students, EDUCAUSE has focused the latest addition to the “Seven Things You Should Know” series on Wikipedia (pdf). The series introduces web and learning technologies and identifies how they might be best used for better pedagogy. The new Wikipedia document identifies how it can be used in this way:

In higher education, wikis have been put to use in courses ranging from humanities to science to business. With Wikipedia, students can take part in a collaborative process of creating and revising content in a global context, moving the opportunities for learning beyond the walls of the classroom or the university. An important part of academic training is seeing how knowledge is created and understanding that it is dynamic, evolving over time based on the contributions of many individuals.

Rather than banning the use of Wikipedia, faculty and librarians are working together to develop creative assignments and research exercises that engage students in the information creation process by having them create or edit Wikipedia pages. Through these learning experiences students come to understand that anyone can add to or edit Wikipedia and what the consequences are for those who base important decisions on this information. Faculty who would like to further explore how Wikipedia can be used to help students become more effective researchers should contact their Temple University Libraries subject specialist to begin the discussion. –Steven Bell

Pilgrimages and journeys

I’ve always thought the idea of pilgrimage fascinating, as have many many others, since pilgrimage happens in a lot of religions and cultures. There’s even a two volume encyclopedia called Pilgrimage: from the Ganges to Graceland andmany books. If you do a search in GVRL, you can find articles on pilgrimage in Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism, spanning most of the globe, even in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. And it’s been going on for a long time, back to the ancient world. In literature, think of Canterbury Tales andPilgrim’s Progress. Contemporary pilgrimage destinations that have ancient origins include JerusalemMeccaMount Shan (China), and the Ganges.

What I always associate with pilgrimage, sort of a romantic notion perhaps, is a spiritual / psychological transformation that takes place when you leave everything behind. It’s easier to change when your personal geography is changing every day. The physical and psychological sort of merge. It has quite an allure. Of course there’s always that reaching your destination and getting back part that can be problematic. (But I’m probably confusing a pilgrimage with an escape.) Here’s a nice overview article from the Encyclopedia of Religion on pilgrimage. Here’s an article on Sacred Places from the New Dictionary of the History of Ideas.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Catholic Church defines pilgrimage as “generally a journey to a holy place undertaken from motives of devotion in order to obtain supernatural help or as an act of penance or thanksgiving.” I’ll bet that definition works for many religious traditions. But I don’t think pilgrimage needs to be thought of as strictly a religious phenomenon. Think of Homer’s Odyssey, when Odysseus was set upon by fate and the gods on his homeward journey to Ithaca. Or think of Aeneas, fleeing from the carnage of Odysseus and the Greeks to found the city of Rome. Why did the ancients find journeys so fascinating? Or think of the pilgrims of England journeying from the “civilized” to the raw, innocent, and “primitive”. Richard Slotkin has written some interesting stuff about this. Or think of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, or Sheen in Apocalypse Now(or Brando, who could forget that?), or 2001: A Space Odyssey with Hal, Dave, and Frank.

Finally, I recently heard about two fascinating books by Jonathan Shay, a psychiatrist who has worked with a lot of Vietnam veterans. The first is calledAchilles in Vietnam, the second Odysseus in America. He uses the Iliad and the Odyssey to explain the journey of the soldier, first in the horror of combat and then on the long road home. It’s not easy.

—Fred Rowland