Scholar@UC: The Archive You Need

scholar@uc
scholar@uc

You think of school as this massive, durable mountain casting a shadow over your existence. It’s so huge, so important; it could never slip away, right? The notion that it may be even slightly temporary or forgettable seems nonsensical, if not impossible. But the truth is the opposite. Although your studies and scholarship are significant, they are also vulnerable to the passage of time. The preservation deserved is not guaranteed. The years of work and research you have accomplished look upon you with peculiar expressions asking, where are we going to live? We do not like your Google Drive.

The University of Cincinnati has found a way to implement this much needed preservation by providing its researchers, faculty, and students with an institutional repository. Meaning, a way to digitally archive information, essentially forever. The software is called Scholar@UC. And it’s the official institutional repository for the university.

UCIT and UC libraries have joined together; UCIT is hosting the servers and UC libraries are developing the software. The project is part of a bigger system, an international consortium of libraries called SAMVERA—which is, by the way, the Icelandic word for togetherness. And the symbolism does not go unnoticed. Scholar@UC’s purpose is to bring separated bodies of work together in indefinite, long-term preservation.

“The libraries have a mission to preserve the intellectual history of the university. But so much of that history is now born digital, both from individual faculty members and researchers—the output of their teaching and research but also the university’s own historical records,” says Linda Newman, head of Digital Collections and Repositories at University of Cincinnati Libraries, “And we recognize that. The libraries need to find new ways to preserve the born digital. That is the purpose of Scholar@UC.”

Basically, it’s the ultimate archive where your work can live comfortably and safely; a self-submission repository accessible to faculty, researchers, and students who can directly submit anything they consider to be academic works—only very significant academic works, however. Things like theses, capstone projects, research and dissertations. Scholar@UC is not meant to be treated like a casual portfolio. UC libraries ask that students submit works under the guidance of an advisor. This advisor can be the student's academic advisor or any faculty member, be it someone who is familiar with the student's work and agrees that it should be preserved for the long-term. Learn more about the submission process here.  

“In student works, you could just directly upload but we ask that you choose—I mean, we aren’t being very draconian here, we don’t have heavy enforcement, but—we ask that you choose the guidance of an advisor.” says Newman. But she admits that the repository nonetheless offers a lot of freedom to its users. “It’s a loose enforcement mechanism, if that. At the end of the day, it’s really just self-submission for everyone.”

Although the submissions are not heavily monitored and there is no active curation of such submissions, the libraries do have the right to take down content. This includes restricted data, copyright material, and submissions of a spam equivalent. “We will use the academic standards that librarians have always followed in regards to safe-guarding the curated content.” Says Newman.

Most graduate students are aware of ORCID (another reliable form of safekeeping, although in the form of citations and not actual living documents). But they do not realize that the combined services of both Scholar@UC (the actual living research and documents) and ORCID (citations of said research and documents) can provide the ultimate support in terms of preservation, because the two archives are linked. And why does this matter? The combined archives are useful for graduate students striving for grants and jobs. Linda Newman reminds us that grant agencies, both governmental and private, are asking that students’ research be easily available. Scholar@UC fulfills that request. “The grant agencies want to see updated curriculum vitae. They want to see everything the student has worked on. For graduate students, this is a great way to get ahead of the curve, to start building their online curriculum vitae in a consistent, unique, and findable way.

“Our mission is preservation,” says Newman, “We send all of our content to a dark archive in the cloud. There are multiple copies. We have traditional back-up and live back-up. We are very serious about preservation. We’re also very serious about access. We want to make the content accessible—content that otherwise would just be sitting on someone’s hard drive in their office. We consider preservation and access our two most important jobs.”

You think of school as this massive, durable mountain constantly hovering over your existence. But it’s not. It’s surprisingly temporary and vulnerable to being lost. Preserve your academic profile in the university’s greatest institutional repository. Give your work and research the preservation it deserves and let your files live in Scholar@UC.

Written by Danniah Daher, Graduate Assistant to the Graduate School Office