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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.

Researching Wind Power

Looking at wind energy in Texas could be an interesting topic for exploring renewable energy, since Texas is the biggest wind producer in the United States.

Gale Virtual Reference Library is a good place to start with a new topic. It provides access to encyclopedias and other reference sources. It’s kind of like searching Wikipedia, except you can actually cite these sources in a paper! When I do a keyword search for “wind energy” I get 495 results.

Once you have a better idea of what you’re interested in, you might want to move on to searching databases for journal articles. Some good search terms might be “wind power,” “wind energy,” “wind farm,” or “wind turbine” to name a few. If you want to focus your research on Texas, you can add “Texas” to one of the search fields. Here are some database suggestions:

Academic Search Complete is a great database for just about any subject.

Compendex and IEEE Xplore are two great engineering databases. In Compendex, Make sure to select the “Subject/Title/Abstract” option for Texas, otherwise author affiliation will show up. IEEE Xplore will also allow you to sort the results by most cited.

Business Source Complete will be a good database to explore the economic and commercial aspects of wind power.

GeoRef and Environment Index– These databases will be useful for focusing on the environmental impact of wind energy.

Web of Science is another good database for this topic. You can sort the results by how many times an article has been cited. You can also do a cited reference search to find works that cited an article you liked.

To read up on wind energy in the news, LexisNexis offers comprehensive coverage from 1980 until today. You can select your source type (“newspapers” is probably going to provide the most sources), or a specific source title such as the Austin-American Statesman.

Google Scholar can also be a handy tool for finding citations. Make sure to utilize the advanced search option to refine your results. For example, when I type “wind energy texas” and hit enter, I get 270,000 results. When I click the arrow in the search field and select “in the title of the article” instead of “anywhere in article,” I get 74 results, which is much more manageable!

For more suggestions, check out our Energy Resources Research Guide, and don’t hesitate to contact the library with questions!

Interested in fracking?

Fracking has been  in the Texas news quite a bit lately, due to ongoing water supply problems and the significant use of water in oil drilling. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is clearly of interest to anyone concerned with environmental issues and oil production in Texas. Here are some starting points for researching this issue:

OnePetro is a great database for literature on oil and gas exploration and production industry. When I type “fracking” into the basic search, 50 results come up. When I type “hydraulic fracturing” into the search box, 20, 200 results show up. Wording is key! You can further refine your search by using the advanced search option.

Ei Compendex is another useful engineering database. A search for “fracking” yields 54 articles, whereas searching with “hydraulic fracturing” yields 11, 870 results.

Academic Search Complete is another great database for just about any subject. Interestingly enough, Academic Search Complete does not make a significant distinction between “fracking” (1,056 results) and “hydraulic fracturing” (1,200 results). Another neat thing about Academic Search Complete is that related images are displayed to the right of the text results.

A keyword search of “hydraulic fracturing” in our catalog also draws up several results for books, ebooks, and other materials.

Check out our Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering Resources page for more suggestions, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions!

New Databases

Some new databases have been added to our library system, and a few of them might be of interest for you engineers out there.

Statista provides statistical data from 18,000 sources which include industry, marketing, and trade groups.

Pivot is the latest version of the COS Funding Opportunities Database. Its purpose is to aid researchers in finding funding and collaboration opportunities.

Import Genius contains shipping manifests and customs records of product shipments into U.S. ports. The data from these records can be used to investigate import and industry trends. In order to access this resource, University of Texas at Austin students, faculty, and staff must create a free account using their university email address.


More Books, New Topics

We recently decided to expand our offerings on textiles and fibers, and below is a list of books on this subject that are now at the McKinney Engineering Library. You can request these titles through the catalogue, or come and find them with the call numbers listed below. As always, ask a librarian if you can’t find what you need! Happy reading!

Fibrous and composite materials for civil engineering applications / edited by R. Fangueiro. Cambridge, UK ; Philadelphia, PA : Woodhead Publishing : Published in association with the Textile Institute, 2011.
Call No.: TA 418.9 C6 F53 2011.

Development of nanotechnology in textiles / editors, A.K. Haghi, G.E. Zaikov.
Hauppauge, N.Y. : Nova Science Publisher’s, 2012.
Call No.: TA 418.9 N35 D475 2012.

New product development in textiles: innovation and production / edited by L. Horne. Oxford; Philadelphia : Woodhead Pub Ltd, 2012.
Call No.: TS 1449 N493 2012.

Woven textiles: principles, developments and applications / by K.L. Gandhi. Cambridge, UK; Philadelphia, PA, USA : Woodhead Pub. in association with the Textile Institute, 2012.
Call No.: TS 1490 W68 2012.

Handbook of tensile properties of textile and technical fibres / edited by A.R. Bunsell. Cambridge, UK : Woodhead Publishing in association with the Textile Institute ; Boca Raton, FL : CRC Press, 2009.
Call No.: TS 1540 H36 2009.

Identification of textile fibers / edited by Max M. Houck. Cambridge : Woodhead Pub. ; Boca Raton, FL : CRC Press LLC, 2009.
Call No.: TS 1540 I34 2009.

Physical properties of textile fibres / W.E. Morton and J.W.S. Hearle. Cambridge, England : Woodhead Publishing in association with the Textile Institute ; Boca Raton, FL : CRC Press, 2008.
Call No.: TS 1540 M67 2008.

Shape memory polymers and textiles / Jinlian Hu. Cambridge : Woodhead in association with Textile Institute, 2007.
Call No.: TS 1548.5 H8 2007.

Improving comfort in clothing / edited by Guowen Song. Oxford ; Philadelphia : Woodhead Pub., 2011.
Call No.: TS 1767 I452 2011.

Theory of structure and mechanics of fibrous assemblies [electronic resource] / Bohuslav Neckář and Dipayan Das. New Delhi : Woodhead Pub., 2012.
Electronic Book. To access, locate the record in our catalogue.