University of Rochester faculty, researchers, and graduate students can begin using a system created at River Campus Libraries as their easy entrance into the electronic repository of scholarship that continues to grow on the Internet. The new site can be reached at http://urresearch.rochester.edu.
Starting this month, the chance to post scholarly work for searching and citing by others is possible with "UR Research," a repository developed for faculty members, researchers, and graduate student users. "There are institutional repositories for scholarly work all over the Web, but they'll remain just a set of empty shelves unless the quantity of the content grows," said Susan Gibbons, assistant dean for public services and collection development at Rush Rhees Library. One of the ways to increase the content from the University of Rochester is to encourage more faculty to create a showcase for their own research.
After a work-practice study of Rochester faculty and their writing and research habits last year, lead anthropologist at Rush Rhees, Nancy Fried Foster, recorded many reasons why faculty members were not participating in online electronic repositories, which are intended for scholars worldwide and free to use. "When we observed how faculty research and write, we found that the current system was cumbersome and it didn't make sense to the scholars we wanted to attract," stated Foster.
The findings from the work-practice study, which were published in the January 2005 issue of D-Lib Magazine, showed the need for librarians, graphic designers, and computer scientists at River Campus Libraries to rethink how to present and promote access to the online repositories by Rochester faculty and other researchers.
The technology that allows work to be stored and then made available on an open-access basis on the Web is called DSpace—for Digital Space. It was designed and built by Hewlett Packard and MIT to capture, store, index, and distribute finished work. A team at River Campus Libraries has created a customized repository—UR Research—built on DSpace and incorporating new features to meet users' needs.
Individual faculty members can now create a personalized Researcher Page and post work that's been written or published. Directions are simple and users can organize their work into folders and add their own links. (At a later stage, the team hopes, faculty will be able to author and co-author documents from that page as well.) The Researcher Page in UR Research can link to work that is already kept elsewhere on the Web, or faculty may choose to put copies of their work into the UR Research repository as well.
David Lindahl, director of library digital initiatives at River Campus Libraries, pointed out: "All of DSpace is searchable by Google and it will be easy for others to find their work by searching for their name. Faculty want material easily found yet safe."
Once the enhancements were decided last fall, the team drafted new versions of the sample Web pages to test. "This cycle of studying users, designing, and testing prototypes is typical of participatory design and increases the likelihood that the final product will work well for users," said Foster.
In their D-Lib article, Foster and Gibbons noted, as some others have learned, that "the focus should be on the individual, with the emphasis on personal digital repositories rather than on institutional repositories." That personal approach is important because of the need to recruit more content from Rochester researchers.
"The Researcher Page will serve as the showcase for all of the researcher's work," Foster and Gibbons wrote. "Anyone from any computer in the world with an Internet connection should be able to search and find this page and see all the work that a researcher has self-published there."
Faculty members may register and submit their work to UR Research by going to http://urresearch.rochester.edu/register or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.