Pilot Project Team of the Office of Digital Scholarly Publishing

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Team ID: 
College / Administrative Unit: 
University Libraries
Date Started: 
January 2007
The goal of the Office of Digital Scholarly Publishing is to promote and develop new outlets for disseminating research online, and to develop financial models that can sustain them. This cross-organizational team, with membership from the University Libraries, Penn State Press, and Digital Library Technologies -ITS, laid the groundwork for establishing a new technology infrastructure to support the program of the office, a collaboration between the Libraries and the Penn State Press. The team contributed to that mission by implementing the DPubS (Digital Publishing System) software, an open source tool developed jointly by Penn State Libraries and Cornell University Libraries, with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Their work began when significant software development was completed–they were asked to make the tool work in production mode, and to publish two projects: 1) the archive of the journal Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (1907-2000), 2) the archive of the Proceedings of the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (1990-2007).

Operating as a pilot team they were asked to identify issues that would improve the software’s functionality and ease of use, which would allow the tool to be used readily in multiple universities. They also analyzed the workflow process for producing content and moving it to online dissemination.

An obvious, but key measure of success was in completing the publication projects: if they couldn’t be completed, then the software would prove useless. Those two publication are now online at:

http://publications.libraries.psu.edu/eresources/wepan and http://publications.libraries.psu.edu/eresources/pmhb

The clients for whom these were developed have frequently expressed their gratitude and shared positive feedback from their own constituencies. For the Women in Engineering Program Advocates Network, the Office of Digital Scholarly Publishing will now serve as the ongoing annual publisher of their conference proceedings.

During the implementation of DPubS the Team discovered a number of glitches, bugs, and difficulties for the administrator of the DPubS software. There were immediately documented and submitted to the team writing the DPubS code. The feedback resulted in either immediate fixes, or improvements that were made available in a later release of the software. As the group analyzed internal workflows, ranging from content creation to final distribution, the group discovered unexpected tasks or steps that differed from other workflows in our digital library services. In this way, they clarified the roles that would need definition and assignment in order to make this a replicable activity and establish a truly reliable publishing service.

Partly in response to the lessons of the Pilot Team’s work, the Libraries are now organizing a new structure to serve as the oversight body for all of our digital library programs. The Digital Initiatives Steering Committee, will be organized around “expert teams,” one of which will be focused on DPubS. Many members from this Pilot Team will serve on the new Steering Committee and on the DPubS expert team. With this arrangement, the Office of Digital Scholarly Publishing is poised to promote the service to more potential clients and, we hope, to promote positive change in scholarly communications.

Notes: I would like to add that the cross-organizational nature of this team was crucial to its success. By incorporating different sets of expertise, and expertise beyond the Libraries, they were able to learn much more about how the software would be and could be used.

The contact for this submission is the administrator responsible for charging the team.

Contact Person: 
Mike Furlough
  • Linda Klimczyk, Chair and Project Manager
  • Kevin Clair, Member
  • Linda Friend, Member
  • Ben Grissinger, Member
  • Rebecca Mugridge-MacIntosh, Member
  • Jennifer Norton, Member
  • Karen Schwentner, Member
  • Larry Wentzel, Member