Research and intellectual curiosity at CSUMB

By Yollette Merritt
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Map of the World showing the distribution of Digital Commons readers.

California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) is the second youngest and second smallest of the 23 member statewide university system, but its research presence and impacts extend well beyond its borders, not only in the United States, but in the world.

The Digital Commons at CSUMB is an important tool that has helped to make that presence possible. The Digital Commons is an electronic repository available to both students and faculty that provides worldwide public access to their academic papers and publications. Real time analysis of usage and downloads is available at digitalcommons.csumb.edu/.

CSUMB joined the Digital Commons club of about 500 institutions in January 2016 after the appointment of CSUMB’s first Library Dean, Frank Wojcik, who spearheaded the effort and “deserves all the credit,” according to Dean Kris Roney. Implementation of the project was overseen by Ryne Leuzinger, Research and Instruction Librarian, later assisted by John Brady, Digital Resources Support Specialist. “It’s wonderful. It’s fantastic. I love it!” exclaimed Dean Roney, when asked her opinion of CSUMB’S Digital Commons.

“Research and the support of intellectual curiosity is part of the university’s branding, especially for an institution of our size, and the Digital Commons has made a valuable contribution in that effort. One of the things I look forward to at the end of each academic year is reading the Marine Science research documents uploaded to the Commons,” continued Roney.

Some of the benefits of the digital commons for faculty include the following: increased visibility of research; facilitate queries and collaboration outside of academia; improved rankings for articles in Google and Google Scholar; and it provides a one-stop repository of work found in varied journals. “Digital Commons, which serves as our institutional repository, provides a number of unique features including: detailed usage statistics, built-in support for projects involving peer review, and a great deal of flexibility in creating and managing different kinds of collections,” stated Leuzinger.

Benefits for students include access to work by graduates of their program or interest area; a safe repository for work, even after graduation; and a home base to share research (with supported citation) within and outside of academia including future employers.

The following is an interview with the CSUMB representatives of the Digital Commons.

The Lutrinae: What are the advantages of using Digital Commons?

Digital Commons: When you upload a work to the digital commons, a permanent web address is assigned that can be added to a curriculum vitae, résumé, or portfolio. One can log in to the digital commons site to see how often a work is being viewed, and once a work is uploaded, it’s easy to find in Google, Summon or other search engines.

How many entries and/or submissions do you have in total?

There are approximately 6,800 works.

How many entries and/or submissions are by faculty?

Currently, we have just over a hundred faculty works in the repository, an area we are actively looking to expand. Most are journal articles, but there are books chapters, presentations, and posters represented as well. In addition to the Department Galleries within “Colleges, Departments, and Administrative Units,” there are two other sections that showcase faculty work: “SelectedWorks” and “Faculty-Authored Books.” SelectedWorks is a part of Digital Commons, but it’s different in the sense that it provides faculty the opportunity to present their work through individual profiles, and it offers more flexibility in the types of works that can be posted. The Faculty-Authored Books Gallery, which we just launched recently, showcases books written or edited by CSUMB faculty.

How many submissions are by students?

There are roughly 1,100 capstones and 400 theses in the “Capstone Projects and Master’s Theses” section. There is also a joint project with UROC staff where students are encouraged to submit their research and presentations. We archive issues of the CSUMB’s Ords Literary Journal, which publishes one issue per semester, as well as CSUMB’s award-winning newspaper The Lutrinae, formerly known as The Otter Realm.

How many California State Universities have a digital commons?

There is a page on the digital commons site with a map that shows all the institutions that use digital commons. Within the CSU system, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, San Jose and Humboldt are the only ones besides CSUMB.

What are some of the factors that one should consider in deciding to make use of the digital commons?

Here are a few things that immediately come to mind. Digital Commons provides faculty and students the opportunity to share their scholarly and creative work with the campus community and beyond. Submissions rank high in search results improving the chances of work being discovered. Users have access to analytics on abstract views and download counts. Perhaps most importantly, the library is committed to maintaining and preserving the repository, ensuring that student and faculty work will be accessible well into the future. Although the repository is intended to serve as a permanent archive, students (and faculty) can always request that their work be taken down if they no longer wish to share it publicly. There are two options for sharing: one with limited CSUMB viewing, accessible only on a CSUMB computer; the other is worldwide public viewing.

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