Why, in these hard economic times, would a primarily teaching-focused institution like DePaul University choose to invest resources in a robust publishing program? DePaul is finding that a publishing program can better support the university’s mission of student engagement and recruitment, faculty promotion and support, and help amplify the impact of DePaul-based publications—all offering DePaul a “competitive advantage.” At the helm of this initiative is Scott Walter, University Librarian at DePaul, who is actively extending the reach of their IR, Via Sapientiae, beyond ETDs to journals such as the DePaul Law Review and publications that previously existed only in print such as the Teaching with Primary Sources Program.
As Scott puts it,
“The institutional capacity to support publishing, and, to varying degrees open-access, digital publishing is being seen as a “competitive advantage” that we’ve added to the DePaul portfolio and that DePaul sees as valuable in the challenging market for students and faculty in Chicago. In addition, knowing what we do about the value of “student engagement” for the core concerns about recruitment, retention, and persistence to graduation, having another library tool in the mix that contributes to that “engagement” goal is seen by all as a benefit.”
Scott speaks eloquently to the ABC’s of enhancing the profile and competitiveness of a primarily teaching-focused institution, below.
How can a library publishing program help to meet traditional goals?
Scott: “DePaul has supported a number of departmental publications for years, and these have long been seen as a key component of the undergraduate and graduate education programs. A library publishing program helps to meet these traditional commitments more effectively by enhancing discoverability, extending range, providing tools for measuring impact, and ensuring a more consistent approach to preservation (or ‘durable access’).”
How can the IR promote student engagement and thus retention?
Scott: “DePaul recognizes that undergraduate research opportunities represent a ‘high-impact practice’ in terms of student engagement (a key component of retention and academic success) and the opportunity to have one’s work published is seen by students as a valuable addition to their online portfolio and presence, thus seen as a benefit to marketability, etc.”
How might a publishing program engage and recruit faculty?
Scott: “From the faculty point of view, access to a library publishing program provides an opportunity for faculty members or a department/school to have access to a marker of academic distinction that might have been more difficult to achieve in the past, whether this is support for launching a new journal or demonstration that the university can be a viable home for an existing journal, e.g., a society publication. In both cases, these are “quality markers” for faculty and access to a type of institutional support that might help recruit faculty just as access to a digital undergraduate research publication program might help to recruit students.”
A press release touting DePaul’s strong publishing initiative says it well:
“For those already digging through mounds of paperwork wondering where their latest work, dissertation, and journal ran off to, do not fear. DePaul has an institutional repository for that …. [The IR] collects, organizes and provides open access to scholarly works produced by DePaul’s faculty, staff, students, centers and institutes.”
We hope that this interview with Scott will help inform and inspire our Digital Commons Community. Get in touch with your bepress consultant to find out how you can publish a wide variety of materials in your IR.