June 30, 2015
Whether you're curious about local West Chester history or are a U.S. or foreign scholar conducting very specific research, you are likely to find the information you need through the Digital Commons @ West Chester University. The online resource is open access, giving anyone around the world the opportunity to download, read, cite and enjoy a variety of published material from WCU faculty, students and staff.
The site launched in November 2013. So far, WCU has included in its Digital Commons collections more than 1,700 items from all five colleges and other institutional areas. The repository comprises not only academic works such as undergraduate research and faculty books but also material of interest to history buffs, the media, life-long learners and others including special collections, TEDTalks, maps, GIS data, photos and videos representing 267 topic areas. And the collection continues to grow.
The real-time global readership map on the Digital Commons landing page tracks which articles are being accessed and the city and country in which the reader is located, plus the top 10 as well as total downloads. It highlights the international reach and significance of research sourced by the WCU community. In one recent week, West Chester's Digital Commons site recorded 317 downloads and, in less than an hour, readers from as far away as Colombia, Iceland, Nepal, New Zealand, Tunisia and Vietnam. Total downloads currently number just under 16,700.
Walt Cressler, WCU's Science Librarian and Repository Administrator, says the resource's open access format means faculty works will be available to more scholars for citations. "Students will also reap the rewards of seeing their work put out to the world, from undergraduate research to capstone projects and theses."
He also noted that there is a function that enables students to publish scholarly and creative journals, adding, "It could even more readily be utilized by faculty if they wanted to start a journal."
Materials on Digital Commons @ WCU are available not only through WCU's website but also aggregated with 20 other Pennsylvania institutions' scholarly and creative materials at a new portal known as Pennsylvania Research Commons (PARC). Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress) hosts PARC on its Digital Commons platform. Content from all 20 participants represents more than 1,070 disciplines and includes authors and works from the University of Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson University, among others.
Cressler says being part of PARC enhances worldwide visibility for West Chester and provides "a platform for regional scholarly and creative collaboration and a showcase that highlights some of the unique resources of Pennsylvania."
WCU faculty who want to add their published materials to the open access Digital Commons @ WCU should contact Walt Cressler, WCU Science Librarian, at WCressler@wcupa.edu or 610-436-1072.