On March 26, 2012, Washington University Libraries announced the launch of Open Scholarship, a digital repository that provides access to the scholarly capital of faculty, staff, and students from Washington University in St. Louis. However, before the March 26th announcement, the secret was out.
The Washington University Libraries weren’t keeping Open Scholarship a secret, since the site had been live for a month and indexed by Google. While we noticed statistics, in the form of articles downloaded, tick up and up, the real sign of success was an email from, Joao, a PhD student at the Sorbonne studying medieval history. Joao contacted the WU Libraries, because the fonts were not embedded in the PDF he downloaded. Through Google, he found a dissertation written by a graduate student at WUSTL and felt it was useful for his research. We embedded the fonts, reloaded the PDF and Joao sent a pleased follow-up email that everything worked perfectly. So, even though the Libraries had not made any formal announcement of our new repository, scholars were discovering valuable research conducted at our university. How does one measure the impact of that?
Currently, the WUSTL Open Scholarship site contains electronic theses and dissertations completed at WUSTL since 2009 as well as undergraduate honors theses and the winning essays from the Carl Neureuther Student Book Collection Essay Competition back to 2003. We are preparing to accept materials this spring from the Undergraduate Research Symposium, as well as faculty publications.
Open Scholarship is more than a website. It's more than a digital repository. Open Scholarship is an opportunity. For a faculty member, it is an opportunity to increase the number of people who read and cite your work. For a student like Joao, it is an opportunity to find research that used to sit on a library shelf or behind a paywall. While still in its infancy, Open Scholarship has an impact that is already being felt.
Those interested in submitting scholarly works to the repository at openscholarship.wustl.edu will find helpful information in the Author Corner section, which includes frequently asked questions.
For more information, contact Digital Library Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (314) 935-6349.