Preserving LMU Student Research

LMU students position the William H. Hannon Library at the crux of the research process: a paradise of knowledge in which to write, muse, and discover (or for some, the place of chaos where you scrawl an essay hours before it’s due). But what are students supposed to do with those research papers or reports that they feel most proud of? That they spent countless hours crafting? For which they may have even consulted a librarian to help find sources? Have you ever wondered how students share these works with an audience outside of LMU?

Recently, we sat down with Digital Initiatives Librarian Jessea Young to talk about Digital Commons and how students can use this tool as a way to continue the life of their assignments past the grading process, and as a forum to amplify their original research.

What is Digital Commons @ Loyola Marymount University and Loyola Law School?

Digital Commons is an online repository that collects, organizes, preserves, and disseminates faculty and student research and creative works. As students, you produce scholarly research for courses: essays, videos, comics, posters, or presentations. After you complete your research and create a report, what happens to all your work? It sits in your hard drive or Google Drive, right? With Digital Commons, it’s possible for your research to have a second life with meaningful global impact. We archive scholarship online so it is discoverable on the internet for millions of other researchers around the world.

What type of student works are already featured in Digital Commons?

Digital Commons features exceptional and unique student work. The Dance Department curates a digital collection of the best research papers. Dean Scheibel’s communications studies course archives their comics books about the process of doing research. William H. Hannon Library also awards LMU undergraduate students whose research makes expert and creative use of the services, resources, and collections to produce a scholarly or creative works (see also: Undergraduate Library Research Award). The awardees and honorable mentions have their projects archived in Digital Commons.

Most of our student work are graduate theses from Marital and Family Therapy and Screenwriting programs. There are some really great screenplays in Digital Commons written by alumni. My favorite title is Everyone Dies When They Come to My House.

How far reaching is Digital Commons? From where in the world are people downloading student works? 

Student work is some of our most downloaded materials from Digital Commons. In 2016-2017, student work was downloaded 31,392 times (which is 10,000 more than faculty works).

To highlight how far student materials can be read, in the last 30 days:

  • Augmented Reality in the Classroom, a University Honors Program thesis by Patrick Foster (‘16) and Sean Cunniff (‘16), was downloaded at Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh, Scotland).
Map of the Downloads of Graduate Students’ Work in Digital Commons for the Last 30 Days.

What are some advantages for students considering having their works in Digital Commons?

  • Advantage #1: It’s easy to share your research. When you place a research paper or poster in Digital Commons, you receive a permanent link that you can use on your resume or graduate school application. If you present your research at a conference, you can share your paper with peers by giving them that link.
  • Advantage #2: Get a global audience. Your scholarship reaches a global audience online and it’s discoverable on Google.
  • Advantage #3: Bragging rights. If you create an account on Digital Commons, you receive download statistics and maps. These statistics are great to show the impact your research has made – use it to brag on a job or graduate school interview.
  • Advantage #4: Learn more! It’s a great opportunity for you to learn about copyright, fair use, licensing, intellectual ownership, and digital publishing.

What do you hope to bring to Digital Commons?

Digital Commons is an excellent place to preserve and showcase the unique, responsible, high quality research that students produce every semester. One of the honorable mentions for the 2017 Undergraduate Library Research Award, Tara Edwards, created a book, Dividing Los Angeles. I want to ensure Digital Commons captures the essence of the creativeness of Loyola Marymount University students.

How can students reading this article get their works into Digital Commons?

If you are interested in contributing your research or creative works to Digital Commons, please email a copy of your CV to and the Digital Collection Librarian will contact you with the next steps. If you are doing research with faculty, you must discuss your interest in depositing work in Digital Commons before submission. You need an advisor’s signature. Fill out a permission form and drop it off at the library. If you have any questions, please contact me!

Thank you, Jessea, for sharing your current work with us. What do you, our readers, think? Would you consider sharing your work in Digital Commons? Contact Jessea if you would like your work to be preserved in our institutional repository.