“We Are the People We Are Waiting For”: Reflections on OpenCon 2018

Jacqueline Phillips and other attendees at OpenCon. Photograph courtesy of Erin McKiernan.

OpenCon is a unique conference that brings together leading early career academic professionals and students from across the world to catalyze action toward a more open system of research and education. This year, Temple University Libraries was proud to sponsor Assistant Professor of Instruction in the Department of Kinesiology (College of Public Health) Jacqueline Phillips to attend OpenCon. The following is a guest post from Dr. Phillips about her experience.

This past weekend I participated in the 2018 OpenCon conference. Since this was my first OpenCon conference I wasn’t very sure of what to expect, but knew it was a gathering of early career professionals with a passion for open access (OA), so I was eager to take part. As a newcomer to the OA world this was my first exposure to an open community beyond my university. Overall, I was completely blown away by the programming and the passion of everyone there to collaborate and better their communities.

Open scholarly work was a new topic I was introduced to at this conference. Although I’ve known about open access journals and the concept of open data, I learned about other ways to make your work open such as posting preprints. Preprints are drafts of manuscripts that are posted online prior to being peer reviewed and formally published. Since a paper can sit in a purgatory-like state for a lengthy amount of time during the standard journal submission process, “pre-printing” enables the author(s) to share their work right away with those in their field. Readers can leave comments or questions, and the paper can be updated with revisions or with a final manuscript after it’s been published. By getting a DOI for a preprint, someone’s work is protected, and others are able to cite the paper. This format enables an early conversation to occur while also helping to connect individuals and advance their work.

As an instructor, my ears always perked up when the topic of open education resources (OER) arose. Strategies on finding already made resources were discussed along with troubleshooting areas of creating resources, like finding or making images (an issue commonly faced in the sciences). Some of the most useful bits of information that I’ll be taking home in this area came through networking and talking to others who have been through this process and were able to provide me with practical tips and wonderful sources. Beyond the making of or incorporation of OER, the discussion that most resonated with me in this area was the importance of student advocacy on campus for OER. A few students were in attendance at OpenCon who spoke about the clubs they were a part of whose mission it is to educate other students about what OER are and how they are impactful. Beyond educating their fellow peers on the subject, they also push for their administration to recognize the importance of the incorporation of OER on campus. This is the type of movement that can help to incentivize faculty to incorporate open materials into their classes, and encourage administration to change the metrics of success that faculty are graded upon for merit or promotion. Student advocacy was a different approach to fostering a cultural change on a campus that seemed to be very successful within these communities.

One particular aspect of the conference I was impressed by was the diversity. Not only the diversity of the attendees, but also presenters and organizers. By having people of different backgrounds and perspectives from around the world involved with all aspects of this event, it contributed to the depth and range of discussions that were held. A topic was presented about how sometimes our mainstream movement to advance OA can inadvertently perpetuate the marginalization of communities this movement aims to help. A lack of diversity at events such as this would only reinforce this oppression; however, I feel the organizers were sensitive to this concept and handled the conference in a way that will help to break down some of these barriers. There was even transparency about the demographics of the conference. The organizers informed us all about the numbers and breakdown of gender, ethnicity, profession etc. of everyone at and involved with the conference. This holds the conference to a higher standard and only helps to make the event even more productive. I hope that we’ll see other conferences begin to incorporate this presentation of the statistics into their events to show commitment to diversity and equity.

The last day of the conference featured a do-a-thon (similar to the concept of a hackathon) where attendees worked in groups to create solutions to particular issues that were brought to the table. All of our work and action plans are available online to the public so that anyone can help and contribute. Overall, I felt very productive at OpenCon. I learned how to use design thinking to solve issues, walked away with actionable items to promote the incorporation of OER, and most importantly, I made connections and became a member of a community that is inspired to collaborate to progress this movement. The conference was closed by Nicole Allen, from SPARC, who left us with the quote: “We are the people we are waiting for.” This perfectly sums of the message I hope to spread to others. We have the ability to break down barriers in education, and now after having attended OpenCon I feel I have more tools to help not only myself, but others accomplish this.

The Importance of Fair Use and Standardized Rights Statements for Digital Cultural Heritage

In honor of Fair Use Week 2018, the following is a guest post from Digital Projects and Services Librarian Rachel Appel and Bibliographic Assistant III for Digital Projects Gabriel Galson. At the Libraries, Appel and Galson work on the PA Digital project. PA Digital is a statewide partnership that collects materials from Pennsylvania cultural heritage organizations and transmits them to the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). The DPLA aggregates digital collections (images, photographs, text, maps, audio and video) shared by libraries and archives’ special collections all across the United States.

Fair use is a US legal doctrine that allows limited reuse of copyrighted materials. It is an invitation to the sort of intellectual/artistic exchange that keeps our culture vibrant, and a counterbalance against the the US’s increasingly strict copyright laws. Sampling, artistic appropriation, creative or educational quotation, parody, and text mining/textual analysis are all activities that flourish under fair use’s protection, shielded –to a degree at least– from the threat of litigation. Likewise, libraries, archives and museums around the country have been able to digitize their archival objects and make them freely accessible online because of the fair use doctrine. Many digital collections that are available through PA Digital and the Digital Public Library of America, for example, are in copyright; digitizing and making them publicly discoverable through a database platform is considered fair use. However, it is important to communicate clearly to users, such as scholars and researchers, that such works remain in copyright and have use restrictions and limitations. Fair use is a key concept that enables both digitization and reuse of digital facsimiles and is the rationale for making cultural heritage collections available online, in local repositories as well as the DPLA.

That’s where RightsStatements.org comes in. The site provides 12 normalized, standardized statements that cultural heritage institutions can use to describe the copyright status of online cultural heritage materials. A joint global project of Digital Public Library of America, Europeana, New York Public Library, University of Michigan, and other institutions, Rightsstatements.org went live in 2016. It creates three categories of statements (with four statements in each) to be used with cultural heritage materials, including some terms for use in the EU. The goal is to provide cultural heritage institutions with simple and standardized terms to summarize the copyright status of works in their collection and how those works may be used.

There are three overall categories with four specific rights statements within each: In Copyright, No Copyright, and Other. Rights Statements and Licenses are critical for digitization and data reuse. A normalized rights statement or Creative Commons license makes it so much easier for a member of the public to understand how that item can be used. The Digital Public Library of America has incorporated RightsStatements.org statements into their portal to function as a facet for searching because they are all machine readable and normalized. A similar metaphor is shopping through an online retailer – when we buy from online retailers what do we look for? Ideally, items with Free Shipping. This makes it easy for scholars to look for works that can be used in their publications and research.


Beyond traditional scholarship, normalized rights statements can also encourage creative reuse of works if people know what they can and can’t do. For example, DPLA’s annual GIF IT UP campaign, where users make images into gifs, and the #ColorOurCollections nationwide promotion by galleries, libraries, archives and museums, where end users are encouraged to reuse digital objects as coloring pages.

Gif made by Michael Carroll for GIF IT UP 2017. Drawing (Two Birds on Flowers) from the Free Library of Philadelphia.


Rightsstatements.org is still getting off the ground, but it promises to make the process of identifying usable works far simpler and less time-consuming for researchers, scholars, and students. Take a look at the Europeana aggregator’s eight million plus ‘free reuse’ results for an example of what’s possible via machine-readable statements. Go forth and reuse!

More resources:

Ballinger, Linda, et al. “Providing Quality Rights Metadata for Digital Collections Through RightsStatements.org.” Pennsylvania Libraries: Research & Practice, vol. 5, no. 2, 2017, pp. 144–158. http://palrap.pitt.edu/ojs/index.php/palrap/article/view/157

Fair Use Checklist: http://copyright.psu.edu/checklist/

RightsStatement.org Resources: http://rightsstatements.org/en/

PA Digital webinars:

Menand, Louis. (2014). Crooner in Rights Spat. The New Yorker. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/10/20/crooner-rights-spat

Faculty Support of Open Access: An Interview with David Sarwer

No matter what discipline you are in, it is hard to ignore the major shift from traditional journal publishing to open access publishing. In honor of Open Access Week 2017, we are celebrating faculty at Temple University who support open scholarship in a variety of ways.

One of these faculty members is David Sarwer, the Associate Dean for Research, and Director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at the College of Public Health. Sarwer is also the Editor-in-Chief of an open access journal, Obesity Science & Practice. He sat down with Biomedical & Research Services Librarian (Ginsburg Health Sciences Library) Stephanie Roth to discuss his experiences as the editor of a new open access journal.

Please tell us more about Obesity Science & Practice. How did you become involved as the Editor-in-Chief?

Obesity Science & Practice is a Wiley journal. They publish four other journals in the area of obesity and were quick to recognize that there was an increasing number of high quality papers not making the cut in those journals. When they approached me about serving as the inaugural Editor-in-Chief, I was still skeptical about publishing in open access journals. The more the Wiley team taught me about their approach, I came to believe that open access publishing was likely to play a significant role in the future of academic publishing.

What gave you confidence to believe in open access?

The early success of the journal has given all of us a great deal of confidence. We have quickly moved to publishing four issues a year. We now receive a steady stream of articles that are either direct submissions to the journal or are referred to us by other Wiley obesity journals. Many of the papers published in the journal have come from internationally recognized authorities in the field of obesity. All of these developments give me a great deal of confidence about the future of the journal and open access publishing more generally.

When you first heard about open access publishing what were your immediate thoughts?

Like everyone else, I was familiar with the old school publishing model. So, I was hesitant and skeptical. The Wiley team did a great job to make me comfortable that open access represented the path to the future.

Did you ever publish to an open access journal prior to becoming the editor of one?

No, but I wouldn’t hesitate to publish in a high quality, reputable open access journal today.

Now as an editor, what are your thoughts about open access publishing?

I am very impressed with open access compared to traditional publishing and especially by our journal. The speed at which we are able to process papers and push them out to our readers is a great strength. We have published a number of high quality, impactful papers in the field. Several of them have received mass media coverage as well, which is an important, yet often overlooked aspect of academic productivity.

What has been your experience with OA journals vs. traditional publishing?

I haven’t noticed much of a difference. Many non open access journals are now putting their papers online. That shows the potential growth and acceptability of open access in the future.

What has contributed to more authors embracing your journal?

It has helped that Wiley is well recognized for their journals. That has helped to increase our journal’s credibility. Wiley has also done a good job identifying high quality submissions that were rejected from one of their four other major obesity journals. When a paper is referred to us from one of those journals, we often use the previous reviews to inform the editorial process and decision making. This has allowed us to move papers through the review process quickly.

What are your future plans for the journal?

I would like to stay on our current path of success. We recently moved to publishing four issues a year and continue to receive a steady stream of papers. I would like to see the first impact factor be appropriately robust and to have it grow over time.

Do you provide tools for graduate students or residents to publish in your journal?

At the journal level, we aren’t doing anything specific for graduate students. We do receive a fair amount of submissions from those who may be working on their first papers and launching their own independent careers and that is also encouraging.

What tips would you give to researchers looking to publish in an OA journal?

I would like to encourage them to make sure they don’t discount them. Be thoughtful. Make sure the journal is a legitimate outlet, and not one associated with predatory publishing. Researchers should see open access as an important and central part of academic publishing in the future.

ORCID iDs @ Temple

Last year on the blog, we introduced ORCID, a non-profit organization that provides persistent, unique identifiers to researchers across the globe. ORCID iDs help ensure that researchers get credit for all their scholarly contributions.

While there are a number of different researcher identifiers out there (including ResearchID and Scopus Author ID), we recommend that all Temple researchers register for an ORCID iD. It’s free and it takes less than a minute to sign up.

There are currently 3,364,764 live ORCID iDs. Sixteen publishers, including the American Chemical Society, PLOS, and Wiley, now require that authors submit ORCID iDs at some point in the publication process. And if you think ORCID is just for scientists, you’re wrong. Cambridge University Press has begun integrating ORCID iDs into their book publishing workflows, and Taylor & Francis is currently undertaking a pilot project to integrate ORCID iDs into their humanities journals.

Researchers can use their ORCID iD profile to highlight their education, employment, publications, and grants. They can even add peer review activities. The American Geophysical Union, F1000, and IEEE are just three of the organizations that currently connect with ORCID to recognize the work of their peer reviewers.

In order to get a better sense of who is using ORCID at Temple, we looked for researchers with publicly available ORCID profiles who note “Temple University” as their current place of employment. We found 205 ORCID iDs that matched this criteria. Of those, the Lewis Katz School of Medicine has the highest number of researchers with ORCID iDs at Temple. The College of Science and Technology has the second highest number, with faculty from Physics, Chemistry, and Biology being well particularly well represented. The College of Liberal Arts has the third-highest number of ORCID iDs, thanks in large part to the Psychology department. A handful of researchers in the Fox School of Business, the College of Engineering, and the College of Education have also signed up for ORCID iDs. The overwhelming majority of researchers with ORCID iDs at Temple are faculty members. Some postdoctoral fellows have ORCID iDs, but very few graduate students do.

Because filling out one’s ORCID iD profile is optional, and profiles can also be set to private, our data is incomplete, and probably underestimates the true number of individuals at Temple with ORCID iDs. Nonetheless, it is exciting to see that researchers in almost all of Temple’s schools and colleges have signed up for ORCID iDs. We’re confident that this number will continue to grow in the future.

Temple Libraries is proud to be an institutional member of ORCID.

Fair Use Week Recap

Librarian Greg McKinney talks to a student about fair use during Fair Use Week. Photo courtesy of Steven Bell.

Last week was Fair Use Week, a five-day celebration of the fair use doctrine. Libraries across the United States and Canada held events to raise awareness about the important role fair use plays in the lives in students and scholars. Here at Temple, we organized several events.

We kicked the week off with a fair use quiz. Students who passed by the first floor of Paley Library last Monday were asked to test their knowledge of fair use by looking at four well-known court cases and deciding whether or not the use in question was fair. All students who took the quiz were entered to win a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card. In the end, 47 students took the quiz. Overall, our students did an excellent job distinguishing between fair and infringing use.

On Tuesday, we held an event for our library staff. We watched the ACRL webinar, “Using Fair Use to Preserve and Share Disappearing Government Information: A Guide for Rogue Librarians.” This webinar was particularly timely for us, as a number of our librarians are involved with the Data Refuge Project which was started at the University of Pennsylvania. Despite the webinar’s title, the librarians who are working to preserve government information are not “going rogue,” as this action clearly falls within the bounds of fair use.

On Wednesday, Resident Librarian Anastasia Chui led a workshop on copyright and fair use for undergraduates. This Jeopardy-style workshop asked participants a series of questions about different fair use situations they might encounter.

Finally, we interviewed Nikki Miller, Rights and Contracts Coordinator at Temple University Press, about “Fair Use from a Scholarly Publisher’s Perspective,” for this blog.

It was a great week and we look forward to participating again next year.

Are you interested in learning more about fair use? Check out the following resources:

Fair Use Week Evaluator Tool

Thinking Through Fair Use (University of Minnesota)

The Fair Use App

Stanford Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright for Educators

New Digital Publishing Platforms Scholars Need to Know About


UPDATE: The Manifold platform has now launched.

Are you in the process of writing a book or journal article? Have you been thinking about how you might present some or all of your research digitally? Over the past ten years, university presses, libraries, and others in higher education have started building the infrastructure necessary to support the creation of high-quality, peer-reviewed digital work. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has provided the start-up funds for many of these projects. One of the first digital publishing platforms that the Mellon Foundation funded was Scalar, which was developed at the University of Southern California on behalf of the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture. Scalar is currently being used by a number of different publishers, including the University of California Press and Duke University Press, to publish both born-digital scholarship and digital companions to print monographs. Scholars can also use Scalar to self-publish their work. Recently, the Mellon Foundation has funded other exciting efforts in this area. All share a common belief that scholars and publishers need to think beyond the traditional print monograph. Here are four new projects, all currently in development, worth watching:

Vega is a digital publishing platform being developed under the direction of West Virginia University for books, journals, projects, data sets, and other scholarly output. The Vega team is particularly interested in streamlining the production and editorial process for publishers. Unlike some existing platforms (such as Open Journal Systems), Vega will be completely customizable. Look for it to launch in 2018.

Editoria is a digital-first book production platform being developed by the California Digital Library, the University of California Press and the Collaborative Knowledge Foundation. Like Vega, it is designed to simplify the publishing workflow process in order to help lower production costs. A beta version of Editoria is planned for release in late 2016/early 2017.

Fulcrum is a digital publishing platform being developed by the University of Michigan Library and Press. Fulcrum will make it easier for authors who want to link their source material to their scholarship. The resulting digital piece can be published as a supplement to a print book, or can even take the place of a print book. One of Fulcrum’s early adopters will be Lever Press, a new press run by a group of leading liberal arts colleges that plans to publish open access, digitally native scholarly monographs.

Manifold Scholarship is a digital book production platform being developed by the University of Minnesota Press and the GC Digital Scholarship Lab at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Similar to Scalar, Manifold aims to help authors create media-rich scholarship that is nonlinear and allows for reader feedback. Although the Manifold platform is not yet live, the University of Minnesota Press has begun considering potential book projects.