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A New Service for the New Year

The past ten years have been a time of transformation in higher education, as traditional models of teaching and research have increasingly been replaced by digital workflows. Fully online classes have become popular; many print journals are now only available in electronic formats; information is created and shared rapidly online, although not in all cases, legally. Such rapid change is often accompanied by confusion, as people are unsure whether the old rules apply in the new environment, or even what the new rules are. The CMU Libraries is debuting a new service this fall to help faculty, staff, and students become effective researchers and teachers in this new environment.

The Libraries’ scholarly communication services will support researchers and authors as they create new works and share them with the world through formal publication or other means. It will help them identify the best venues for sharing their research with others, so their hard work is rewarded by a large and wide readership. It will also provide guidance on the use of materials copyrighted by others, whether that usage occurs in the classroom or in their personal research. Academic libraries, owing to their long-time familiarity with publishing models and copyright, are uniquely positioned to support their institutions in this regard.

We can answer copyright questions faculty have as they build online courses and programs. Including journal articles, book chapters, and video clips in a Blackboard course shell involves copyright issues, and this is especially true when the item being placed in the course shell is a traditional print item digitized for an online class. The Libraries’ Course Reserves and Copyright Services office will work with faculty to ensure copyright is being observed and that materials are being used appropriately.

When it comes to publishing their work, today’s researchers are faced with a variety of options. While traditional publishing models remain, there are new models available to authors. Some of them allow the author to retain their copyrights which in traditional models are often signed over to the journal publisher, for example. An author may expedite the publication of a work in an online journal instead of waiting for it to be published in a print journal. Or a work can be published in an open-access format, i.e., free to read and having fewer copyright restrictions, as a way of increasing the article’s visibility. We can help faculty and graduate students understand their options when it comes to making their work available to their fellow researchers.

Librarians can also help faculty locate open educational resources (OER), including alternative textbooks, which can be used in their courses. While faculty are aware of OER, surveys have shown most of them find it challenging to locate specific materials in support of their teaching. As expert searchers of information, librarians are fantastic partners for faculty when searching for open access articles, videos, and other content to support their students. Working with a librarian can reduce a faculty member’s course prep time and result in a greater variety of course resources.

CMU Libraries is excited about this new service and about helping faculty and students navigate and understand today’s new publishing environment. To learn more about our service, check out our Scholarly Communication Services website.

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