Category Archives: Open data

The Flora of Forfarshire: A publication of historical and botanical value available in modern collections and public platforms.

During the spring semester 2017, UT Libraries and the Billie L. Turner Plant Resources Center worked together to digitize the Flora of Forfarshire and make it available to the public through the Texas ScholarWorks repository.

pic3The Flora of Forfarshire is an emblematic botanical work by the Scottish botanist, William Gardiner (1809-1852), a poet and botanist, well known among the botanical establishment in 19th Century Europe. Published in 1848, The Flora of Forfarshire comprises +300 pages of plants, fungi, lichens, and algae growing in Forfar (Angus) county, Scotland. Since the publication of the book was an ambitious project, Gardiner funded its project by recruiting patrons who were rewarded with folios of pressed samples of representative species listed in thebook, accompanied by taxonomic and geographical information. Most of these folios no longer exist, but one of them, along with the main book, are accessioned at the University of Texas Libraries.pic2
The Flora of Forfarshire has historical and scientific value because of Its age, the adverse economic conditions the author had overcome to publish it, the excellent preservation of the pressed plants in the complementary volume and, the botanical information of a region that has changed a lot since the XIX century, among other reasons. In order to make the book and the folio accessible to the public and providing an accurate and updated version of the information contained in the Flora, The Plant Resources Center and UT Libraries worked in a joint project offering the opportunity to Jessica Wigley, a Museum Studies student to have hands-on experience in digitizing, georeferencing, and updating the taxonomic information of each of the records.pic1 A total of 135 records were digitized and barcoded, 74 required taxonomic update, and 54 localities had their localities georeferenced. Jessica presented her final results in a poster at the conference Botany 2017 in June 2017 and all the products of the project including downloadable versions of the poster, the books, and a spreadsheet with all the information, were uploaded to the Texas ScholarWorks repository during the fall 2017. The Flora of Forfarshire collection can be accessed and consulted here: https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/handle/2152/47236

Post submitted by Amalia Díaz, Ph.D., Assistant Curator, Plant Resources Center.

Open Access Week 2017

Knowledge unfortunately isn’t free.

Much of the research being conducted at universities, colleges, and institutes around the world is written up by professors, graduate students, and research associates and published in toll-access (subscription) journals. Anyone lacking a subscription to that journal will not be able to access the articles published there. This creates a serious access problem for many people across the globe.

An alternative method of publishing, called Open Access, is gaining in popularity and it allows for anyone to read the results of research for free.

Why should I care?

The short version:

expensive journals = less access to research results, especially for those outside of wealthy higher-ed institutions

less access = less research being done and/or research not happening quickly because of access barriers

The long version:

Most scholarly work is currently published through toll-access journals. The work is given to the journals for free by researchers and faculty at colleges and universities – they do this in exchange for the prestige that comes with publishing their work. Many times the research being described in the journals was funded by public agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. These journals charge a subscription fee for access to the articles they publish. Sometimes the subscription fees are quite reasonable and other times they are outrageously expensive. At most colleges and universities, the Library assumes responsibility for the subscription and for providing access.

For students, researchers, and faculty at wealthy institutions this arrangement has worked relatively well for the past 100+ years. For those researchers at less-wealthy institutions or those unaffiliated with a college or university, it has created an access barrier that makes research difficult. Without a subscription to a journal, a researcher needs to try contacting colleagues at other institutions that do have a subscription or needs to email the authors to see if they will send a copy. These techniques are not always successful which means those researchers are left without access to information they need.

In addition, costs for scholarly journals have been rising rapidly at rates outpacing what libraries can anticipate and plan for based on the inflation rate.  This has created an unfortunate situation in which libraries have to cancel some journal subscriptions and purchase fewer books each year in order to keep up with price increases for the journal subscriptions that are considered critical to maintain.

What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) is the free, immediate, online availability to scholarly works without significant copyright or licensing restrictions. Put another way, it means access to scholarly and creative works without price and permission barriers.

There are two main routes to OA:

  • publish in an open access journal – this means the work is freely available from the moment of publication. This is sometimes called gold open access.
  • Deposit a copy of the work in a freely available archive – this generally happens either at the time of publication or after publication. This is sometimes called green open access.

What can I do?

As a student you can support OA by asking your professors if they publish their work openly – either in open access journals or in an openly available archive. You can also deposit your own work in the University of Texas at Austin online archive called Texas ScholarWorks.

As a researcher or faculty member you can publish your work in an open access journal, and/or you can deposit copies of your work in Texas ScholarWorks. And, you can start discussions in your department about how faculty and researchers are evaluated for promotion and tenure.

For anyone at UT:

  • Stop by tables we’ll have set up during Open Access Week. We’ll have swag, treats, games, and enthusiastic librarians who can answer your OA-related questions.
    • Tuesday, Oct. 24th, from 1:00-3:00pm in CLA on the main level
    • Wednesday, Oct. 25th, from 12:00-2:00pm in the PCL lobby
  • Come to Data & Donuts on Friday, Oct. 27th at 3:00 to learn about sharing data with the Texas Data Repository
  • Tweet about open access using #openaccess
  • Read about, write about, and talk about open access
  • Check out and share the resources we’ve created

What is Texas ScholarWorks?

Texas ScholarWorks (TSW) is an online archive managed by UT Libraries. The goal of TSW is to provide open, online access to the products of the University’s research and scholarship and to preserve these works for future generations. TSW is highly indexed by Google and managed by the Libraries for long-term preservation. It’s easy for members of the UT Austin community (faculty, researchers, students, and staff) to share their work through TSW. Simply check out the FAQs or send an email to tsw at utlists dot utexas dot edu for information about how to submit.

What is Texas Data Repository?

Texas Data Repository (TDR) is an online repository for research data managed by UT Libraries. The goal of TDR is to provide a platform that makes it easier for researchers to collaborate on projects and share the data resulting from their research. It’s easy for members of the UT Austin community (faculty, researchers, students, and staff) to share their work through TDR. Simply check out the documentation or send an email to datamanagement at lib dot utexas dot edu for information about how to submit.

Data & Donuts room change

Our first Data & Donuts event was a huge success – we had almost 70 people in attendance! To accommodate larger audiences, we’ve decided to move future Data & Donuts events to larger rooms. We’ll also be ordering more donuts!  With the exception of Sept. 22nd and Oct. 13th, all future Data & Donuts will be in PCL Learning Lab 1. We’ll always post a sign on Learning Lab 4 directing people in case you forget where to go.

Travel scholarship available

The University of Texas Libraries wants to send you to OpenCon 2017 in Berlin, Germany!

If you are a graduate student or postdoctoral researcher with an interest in open access (OA), open educational resources (OER) or open data who wants to help shape the future of research and education at UT, consider applying for a travel scholarship being provided by the Libraries to attend this year’s OpenCon. OpenCon is an academic conference for early career researchers taking place November 11th-13th, 2017 in Berlin. OpenCon is an excellent opportunity to learn more about open access, open education and open data, to learn how to advocate for these issues, and to network with people from across the globe. It truly is an international conference – since 2014, people from 176 countries have applied to attend! The program includes keynote talks, panel discussions, workshops, hackathons, and there is usually an opportunity to lobby government officials. The UT Austin scholarship winner will be fully funded to attend the conference.

The scholarship winner will be expected to share what they’ve learned once they return to Austin. We are open to what that engagement may look like – for instance, the attendee may choose to host a presentation upon their return or they may decide to push for more open access in a particular area on campus. Library staff will be available to help coordinate events and meetings, but the attendee is expected to do most of the content planning.

To apply:

Please send a statement (no longer than 500 words) discussing how you might like to engage our campus in open agenda discussions. This statement is not binding, but it is an opportunity to brainstorm ideas that can be further refined later. Submit your statement and resume/CV to Scholarly Communications Librarian, Colleen Lyon, c.lyon@austin.utexas.edu, by Friday, July 7th, 2017. Applicants will be notified with a decision by July 21st, 2017. If you have questions about the conference or about the application process, please contact Colleen Lyon.

Thank you to Clifford Lynch!

As part of our “Year of Open,” UT Libraries hosted CNI Executive Director Clifford Lynch for a public presentation. Titled “Evolving Scholarly Practice and the New Challenges for Scholarly Communications, ” Dr. Lynch discussed multiple topics pertaining to digital scholarship, including data management, digital curation, research replication, and data packaging. He also held a special meeting with UT Librarians to discuss these topics in more depth. Learn more about Clifford Lynch.

Again, thank you for your incredible insight!