Congrats to 2 engineering students taking first and second place . . .


AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas Libraries have announced the winners of the 2015 Signature Course Information Literacy Award. This award recognizes exemplary student work that achieves the learning outcomes of the Signature Course information literacy requirement. Three winners were chosen from 17 projects nominated by faculty.

Lauren Essary — a  Biomedical Engineering major in the School of Engineering — received first place for her research paper, “Homer in 18th Century America,” written for the  Signature Course “Tales of the Trojan War” (UGS 302) taught by Professor Adam Rabinowitz from the Department of Classics in the College of Liberal Arts. Essary’s work was selected for her approach to refining and developing her topic as part of the research process, her use of evidence to support her argument, and the range of primary and secondary sources with which she engaged.

Sarosh Nandwani — an Engineering Honors student majoring in Mechanical Engineering in the School of Engineering – received second place for her paper, “Autonomy for Palestinian Women in Israel,” written for the Signature Course “Jerusalem” (UGS 303) taught by Professor Jonathan Kaplan from the Department of Middle Eastern Studies in the College of Liberal Arts. Nandwani’s work was selected for her in-depth analysis of authority and methodology and her deep engagement with scholarly sources.

Laura Van Buskirk — a Biology major in the College of Natural Sciences – received third place for her paper, “Distracted Driving and How It Affects One’s Safety behind the Wheel,” written for the Signature Course “The Role of Technology Among Youth in Society and Education” (UGS 302) taught by Professor Joan Hughes from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education. Van Buskirk’s work was selected for the wide range of sources she used and her approach to research and writing as cyclical and iterative processes.

All three papers have been placed in the open access University of Texas Digital Repository where they are available for review.

The award, which includes a $500 prize for the first place winner, is given annually to projects submitted in a Signature Course, and is judged by a panel consisting of librarians and members of the Undergraduate Studies staff.

Open Access Advocate Speaks to Impact of OA on Graduate Success

The program is free with pizza and drinks provided to attendees.

What: Open access advocate and SPARC representative Nick Shockey discusses the impact of OA on graduate students, universities and other public research institutions. This event is free and open to the public.

When: 12-1:30 p.m.,Wednesday, April 8, 2015.

Where: Perry Castañeda Library (PCL 2.500), The University of Texas at Austin.

Background: As the core informational resources needed to succeed beyond the undergraduate experience have become less accessible to those wanting to continue their education, graduate students from around the world are increasingly coming together to promote open access to research.

While in Austin to meet with legislators, Nick Shockey — Director of Programs & Engagement for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and founding Director of the Right to Research Coalition — will visit The University of Texas at Austin to talk about his work with student groups around the world and share concrete ideas for how graduate students at the university can advocate for increased access to the work they create through the creation of open access (OA) policies. Students will have an opportunity to learn how to be part of an international effort to improve the way research is shared and elevate their own research profile.

Open access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles, coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. OA is closely related to open data and open education — parallel movements designed to increase access to and reuse of both data and educational resources.

What are the new OA requirements at various granting agencies? How would a university OA policy improve overall research at UT?  And why does OA matter? Shockey will touch on these questions and more for attendees who want to have a better understanding of or get more involved with the issues surrounding broader access to public research.

The program is free with pizza and drinks provided to attendees.

To help us accommodate everyone, please RSVP to the Eventbrite page by Friday, March 27.

For more information on Open Access, please visit or

Grad students needed for 1-hour focus group

Graduate students, you may have noticed that PCL is under construction this semester as we build our new Learning Commons, a space focused on teaching, learning and writing.  Now we’d like to hear more about your research needs.

Come participate in a 1-hour focus group session and let the UT Libraries know what services and spaces you value and what’s missing.  We’ll use your input to inform planning for the near future, and you’ll get a free meal!

Email Jenifer Flaxbart,, to sign up for one of the following sessions:

Tuesday, February 24, 7:00pm, PCL 3.120

Friday, February 27, 12:30pm, PCL 3.120

Sunday, March 1, 9:00pm, PCL 3.120

Sunday, March 8, 7:00pm, PCL 3.120

Please RSVP today, before the session you want fills up and so that we can plan for your participation.

the art of Pi

This year’s Pi Day (March 14, 2015) corresponds to the first five numerals of pi (3.1415).

To celebrate this happy numerological event, the Kuehne Physics Mathematics Astronomy Library will host a virtual exhibition on The Art of Pi, opening on Tuesday, March 10.

How to Participate

  1. Participation is limited to UT Austin students, faculty, and staff.
  2. Submissions can actually display some of the digits of pi or have been created using pi.
  3. While you retain ownership, by submitting artwork to this exhibition you grant unrestricted permission to the UT Libraries to display photos of your work in print and online. Should the UT Libraries choose to display your artwork, you will be credited as the creator.
  4. The UT Libraries reserves the right to decline to accept or display artworks.
  5. Email digital photos (attachment size limit is 20 MB) of your pi-related art—paintings, prints, knitting, crochet, embroidery, tattoos, sculptures, photographs, etc.—by Tuesday, March 3, 2015 to The Art of Pi,
  6. For submissions to be accepted, your email MUST INCLUDE—
    1. Your name
    2. Your UT EID
    3. the medium (oil, crochet, etc.) of your work
    4. a brief description of your artwork and/or how you used pi in your creative process

Research Poster Design Workshop

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 – 3:00pm to 4:30pm

At the Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL) , PCL 2.400

The workshop emphasizes poster design principles; appropriate sections for a research poster; presenting your poster; understanding your audience; and evaluating a poster. This workshop or its equivalent in your program is required for all students presenting at the Longhorn Research Bazaar during Research Week.

Taught by Robert Reichle of the Office of Undergraduate Research

RSVP – limited to 14 attendees

Despite flaws, open access is worth the price

A recent editorial in the Daily Texan expressed support for open access journals in the academic community, despite misgivings by some as to their credibility.  The editorial cites a recent experiment published in the journal Science, in which Harvard’s John Bohannon successfully convinced more than 100 online journals to accept a bogus study.

The article notes that one major concern for academic institutions is the increasing cost of providing access to traditional print journals.  Susan Macicak of UT libraries is quoted as stating that EBSCO, the university’s serials agent, “posted price increases of at least 20 percent across all disciplines from 2009 to 2013”, and that this trend was expected to continue.  Open source journals could be one method of providing important information to scholars without passing the ever-increasing cost on to the university.  Providing knowledge and research to as wide an audience as possible is another benefit to be gained from the open access model.

Open access journals currently lack the prestige of the traditional print publications of scholarly research. It will take time and effort until they are respected on par with print journals and begin to attract work at a comparable level. However, the editorial suggests that this acceptance can be initiated at the university level, and notes that some institutions, including MIT and the University of North Texas, have already adopted policies favoring open access.  The editorial concludes that, though the model is not without its drawback, the potential benefits of open-access journals outweigh their risks.  The editorial can be read in its entirety here:

Discover more about open access and its impact during Open Access Week 2013, October 21 – 25, hosted by the UT libraries.  For more details see:


Dissertations: On the shelf and online…

Dissertations are a great way to incorporate recent research into your reading, and now that’s it’s common for people to publish open access digital copies, they’re a lot easier to access.

You can look for UT Theses and Dissertations in the Library Catalog or in the UT digital repository. If the item is newer there might only be digital version instead of a physical manuscript on the shelves. To find dissertations in the catalog go to Advanced Search and make sure to select “Dissertations/Theses” in the Location field.

The Texas Digital Library is a great resource for researching dissertations within Texas universities. On their website, you can see which universities are included in the collections, and search specifically within one university’s collection or multiple collections. If you don’t have a specific dissertation or thesis in mind, you can put a subject or keyword term in the “words in text” field, or go to Advanced Search for more specific search options.

Dissertations and Theses: Full Text is a great database for finding most dissertations in North America, with some international coverage. The database includes complete pdfs of many newer dissertations, and detailed records of older/not freely available dissertations. The database also shows where the dissertations have been cited, which is another helpful research tool.

The Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations is another useful tool, although their catalog is not as comprehensive as Dissertations and Theses: Full Text. Their website also has useful links for international sources.

WorldCat is a good place to look if you are trying to find the location of a specific thesis. Choose “WorldCatDissertations” in the “search in database field.” If a dissertation is not online, you can also make an interlibrary loan request through InterLibrary Services.

Searching Open Access

Even though we encourage researchers to use library databases to find resources, we realize that people don’t stay in school forever. For this reason it’s important to know about where to look for quality, open access resources. Authors might publish open access materials in an institutional repository, open access journal, or on a personal website. Fortunately, there are search engines that process data from these sources and simplify the search process!

We tested out three open access search engines to see how effective they are: BASE, CORE, and OAIster.

BASE (Bielefeld Academic Search Engine) BASE harvests and indexes metadata from repositories that use Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. BASE Search provides access to more than 40 million articles from more than 2,400 sources. BASE is also a registered OAI Service Provider.
Author name searches were successful in providing academic, open access items.

CORE (Connecting Repositories) Core Portal allows you to search and navigate scientific publications aggregated from a wide range of Open Access repositories.CORE lists 281 repositories as having been harvested.
We got poor return rates on entering author names in the search field, maybe because the collection is not as extensive as BASE. Keyword Searches were more successful.

OAISter-OAIster harvest open access metadata: it includes more than 25 million records from more than 1,100 sources. We had better return on author searches in OAIster Database than CORE, but we still had the most success in BASE. This could be because BASE has harvested more sources. Another interesting discovery is that author searches in BASE and OAIster yielded different sources…although there is no one stop shopping in open access searching, you still have some good options!

Understanding Open Access

Open access refers to free access to scholarly literature. Although the idea of open access has been around for a while, the widespread availability of resources online and the prohibitive costs of journal subscriptions have pushed the concept of open access to the forefront of academia and publishing. In open access publishing, authors can either publish through an open access journal, or deposit their work in an institutional repository. There are many reasons people decide to publish open access including ideological, economic, and practical.

Ideologically, authors might be motivated to share their findings and research with people who can’t afford journal subscriptions, including in the developing world. They might also want to take a stand against for profit publishing, which ties into the economic reason. Practically, authors might hope to increase their impact factor by publishing open access, though there are conflicting studies as to whether open access articles are cited more often.

In considering open access, it is important to establish the differences between “Green” and “Gold” OA The Green model or “self-archiving” refers to self-publishing in an open repository, such as a campus institutional repository. This kind of publishing incurs no cost to the author, and some grant providers require green publishing to ensure that the research they funded reaches a wide audience. For already published articles, see what rights you have to self-archive your material using the SHERPA/RoMEO database.

The Gold model or “author pays” refers to publishing in an open access journal. Authors generally pay a fee to publish in an OA journal, and the work is submitted to some form of peer review.

Some obstacles to open access publishing include perceived quality of open access journals, unfamiliarity with the process, and copyright concerns. If you have questions or concerns about open access sources or publishing, the UT Libraries can help!

Check out our Scholarly Communication Page for more information on UT open access policies.

The SPARC Author Addendum has resources on securing your rights as an author.

Here is the Directory of Open Access Journals.

The Harvard Open Access Project is also a good resource.

Work Consulted:

Mischo, William H., and Mary C. Schlembach. “Open Access Issues and Engineering Faculty Attitudes and Practices.” Journal of Library Administration 51, no. 5/6 (July 2011): 432–454. doi:10.1080/01930826.2011.589349.


When Should I Use Google Scholar?

Google Scholar has an ambiguous status in the library and research world. Obviously, it is powered by the Google, which is kind of a dirty word in academic research. Also, the fact that it is free throws further suspicion on its quality, particularly when libraries pay lots of money for database access. Finally, there have been issues of inaccuracies and incompleteness in citations, and a lack of clear criteria for what makes a work “scholarly” enough for Google Scholar.
On the other hand, many academic libraries (including UT) link to Google Scholar on their websites, and provide tutorials on how to use it. By providing link resolver access, libraries are clearly collaborating with Google Scholar and anticipating that students will use Google Scholar to conduct searches. Students might find Google Scholar more user friendly than an academic database.
You might be wondering, is Google Scholar the best for my field and topic? There are varying reports on the comprehensiveness and quality of searches in Google Scholar, and since the algorithms for Google Scholar will be different from other databases, it might be worthwhile to compare a Google Scholar search with another database search.
To make sure you are getting the most out of your Google Scholar search, check out this tutorial and the database page on the UT Library website. Go to Research By Subject to find out more about subject specific resources.

Work Consulted:

Neuhaus, C., Neuhaus, E., & Asher, A. (2008). Google Scholar Goes to School: The Presence of Google Scholar on College and University Web Sites. Journal Of Academic Librarianship, 34(1), 39-51.