Library makes faculty research publications, student theses, dissertations available online

Drew VandeCreek

Drew VandeCreek

University Libraries has launched Huskie Commons, a new online repository featuring NIU student theses and dissertations and faculty members’ publications in peer-reviewed journals.

While outreach to NIU faculty is just beginning, Huskie Commons already contains full text versions of more than 60 faculty publications and links to more than 4,000 theses and dissertations. In the future, Huskie Commons will expand to incorporate other materials, such as images, videos and data sets resulting from scholarly research.

“The website serves to collect, preserve and disseminate the university’s intellectual output in digital form,” says Drew VandeCreek, director of Digital Initiatives for University Libraries.

He and Stacey Erdman, Digital Collections curator, developed the site.

“Many college and university libraries have developed institutional repositories, which democratize and simplify access to scholarly materials that have heretofore only been accessible through library or institution-based paid subscriptions,” VandeCreek says.

Ultimately, the new repository will provide more access to scholarly materials for classroom learning and more public exposure to student and faculty research. Citations to materials held in institutional repositories are regularly harvested by Google Scholar, and studies have shown that articles in this format receive more citations than those that only appear in for-pay journals.

Presidential Teaching Professor David Gunkel in the Department of Communication is among the first faculty contributors to Huskie Commons. Faculty members must give permission for their articles to be posted or linked to the website.

“At a time when journal articles, research data and other scholarly communication are often hidden behind expensive proprietary firewalls, online institutional repositories such as the Huskie Commons provide open and unrestricted access to learning,” Gunkel says. “In the process, they not only afford researchers with unparalleled exposure to a global audience but fulfill the true objective of scholarly communication – the free and open exchange of ideas.”

The university will realize other benefits as well, VandeCreek adds.

“From an institutional standpoint, online repositories allow a university to present an impression of its intellectual output to a variety of stakeholders and potential stakeholders,” he says. “Those stakeholders include legislators, donors and potential donors, prospective students and their parents, and potential faculty hires.”

Faculty who would like to contribute peer-reviewed research articles are encouraged to contact VandeCreek at drew@niu.edu.

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