LMU Library News

Digital Commons: Serving LMU and Beyond the Bluff

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October 23 – 29 is Open Access Week, an international event to educate the research community about the potential benefits of Open Access. Open Access is the free, immediate, and online access to scholarly research and the ability for others to use and re-use materials. Loyola Marymount University’s growing institutional repository, Digital Commons, is an open-access initiative of William H. Hannon Library and the William M. Rains Library to collect, organize, preserve, and disseminate faculty and student scholarship and creative works.

digital commons website screenshot

About Digital Commons

Digital Commons, launched in 2012, is a full-text open access archive of scholarship and creative works produced by the Loyola Marymount University community. Presently, Digital Commons is home to over 9,000 papers with over 3 million downloads. We can manage, share, and preserve scholarly materials or creative works such as articles, author manuscripts, data sets, reports, audio and video files, working papers, conference papers and presentations, digital books, and so much more.

Serving Loyola Marymount University Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff who contribute their publications to Digital Commons can enhance their professional visibility and increase the impact of their research. The repository is indexed by Google, Google Scholar, and other popular search engines making our materials easy to find on the internet. So far in 2017, materials from Digital Commons received readers from 224 countries. Subscription paywalls can make journal articles inaccessible to faculty and students at smaller universities, international researchers, journalists, and the public. Since Digital Commons does not have subscription barriers, archived materials are free to anyone with internet access; therefore, removing the financial barrier to knowledge.

Besides visibility, Digital Commons is long-term preservation solution. Academia.edu and ResearchGate may also create visibility to faculty work, but as a for-profit company they could shut down at anytime without notice. In addition, publishers are reviewing materials in ResearchGate and removing items that infringe copyright agreements. We do our best to provide copyright permission services for Digital Commons so faculty do not worry about take-down notices. We also offer data preservation and management to meet funder requirements and protect it with embargos or campus access only restrictions.

Beyond the Bluff

Faculty and student research in Digital Commons has the potential to make a difference beyond the LMU classroom. By creating accessibility to research usually blocked by paywalls, Digital Commons can assist in bridging the digital divide to scholarly materials. As defined by Webopedia, the digital divide is a gap between those who have access to and the resources to retrieve and use new information and communication tools, like the Internet, and people who do not. The digital divide can exist between rural areas and urban areas, between the educated and uneducated, between economic classes, and on a global scale between more and less industrially developed nations. There is evidence that Loyola Marymount University scholarly material in Digital Commons is being accessed in less developed nations. We could be assisting in providing access to online scholarly materials otherwise irretrievable to international researchers.

Take a look at the 2016 Measuring the Information Society Report published by the United Nation’s International Telecommunication Union. This report assesses developments and the progress of the digital divide in 175 countries. The report identified Madagascar, Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia, Congo, Burundi, South Sudan, Guinea-Bissau, Chad, and Niger, as the countries with the with the lowest amount of access, use, and skill of information and communication technology in 2015. Despite the digital divide, eight of these countries downloaded materials from Digital Commons.

Countries # of Digital Commons Downloads in 2015
Madagascar 24
Tanzania 533
Malawi 127
Ethiopia 1127
Congo 13
Burundi 6
South Sudan 42
Guinea-Bissau 0
Chad 0
Niger 4

Digital Commons allows LMU scholarship to be accessible to readers in such remote corners of the world. Digital Common’s far-reaching abilities makes it a valuable tool for LMU to serve global community of learners.

In the context of social justice, Digital Commons, an open-access initiative, not only serves as an archive, but a tool to serve a global community of researchers. Open access is an attempt to create equity by freely disseminating research and educational resources. With the increasing cost of academic journals, open access confronts the traditional publishing model that perpetuates the inequality to access of knowledge. Not all universities and labs can afford the same resources as we are blessed to have. Yet, Digital Commons can be an access point for less fortunate researchers residing in Los Angeles and aboard to read scholarship by the LMU community.

This year, get involved with Open Access Week and consider depositing work into Digital Commons. Let your research have greater impact on the world by removing the financial barrier. Make scholarly articles more accessible to anyone with internet access, while also reaping the benefits of visibility and preservation.

If you are interested in learning how to contribute to Digital Commons, email digitalcommons@lmu.edu.