Making Your Research Available to the Public

If you follow the higher education literature, you’ve probably read about the need for reform in scholarly communication and heard about the rising prices of journal subscriptions that dominate university library budgets.  Encouraging open access (OA) through OA journals and institutional repositories is one way librarians and researchers are responding to this on-going struggle. Here at OU, we have a fledgling institutional repository, but we need your help to grow it into a robust tool for access to our scholars’ research productivity.  Here are a few FAQs that might help to answer some of the questions percolating in your mind and encourage you to share your work.

What is an institutional repository?

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) defines an institutional repository as “digital collections that capture and preserve the intellectual output of university communities.” Institutional repositories provide a way for university authors to provide broader access to their publications.

OU Libraries offers an institutional repository, Sooner Scholar, available at

Why would I want to put my work into Sooner Scholar?

Sooner Scholar will give your work a persistent URL (reference URL) that will not break if a server gets moved or changed. It will allow others to reach your material without error. Materials will be indexed in Google or other search engines, thus increasing use and possible citation.

What do I need to know to get my publications into Sooner Scholar?

• Retain your copyright for items you have not yet published. Use a copyright addendum or Creative Commons license to do so.

• For items that have already been published, you must have retained your copyright in order to place your publication in Sooner Scholar.

• If you did not retain copyright, you may contact the publisher and seek permission to place your publication in Sooner Scholar.

• Some publishers will allow you to retain the pre- or post-publication version (sans publisher formatting) of your work in an institutional repository. See SHERPA for publisher policies regarding institutional repositories:

How do I contribute to Sooner Scholar?

If you would like to contribute, please contact Karen Rupp-Serrano, Director of Collection Development & Scholarly Communications, or Brian Shults, Interim Coordinator of Digital Initiatives. Karen is also available to speak to your department about issues related to scholarly communication if you are interested.

Jeremy Hessman


  1. Sarah, here is something you might find of interest re: open education resources; it just showed up today in a blog I read:

  2. That sounds great, Sarah – at a minimum, I would welcome the chance to deposit copies of my books in PDF format at the repository and if you expand into less-than-book-size learning materials, that is an initiative I would very gladly contribute to also. It’s exciting to see these things starting to happen at OU!

  3. This is great news! Are there plans also to maintain a repository for teaching materials or to open this repository up for teaching materials? Please let me know. Currently, I use my own web hosting along with various ad-free sites for educators (esp.,, Google Docs) to host the materials I use in my online courses but I would welcome the opportunity to have the materials hosted somewhere permanent and stable in the domain. Any information you have about that would be much appreciated.

    • Laura, at this point in time, we do not have plans for a respository of teaching materials within University Libraries, and I’m not aware of any such initiatives on campus. Do you know of any models of other universities hosting such a site?

      • Hi Sarah, thanks for your reply! There are all the schools running OCW (open courseware – MIT, Tufts, etc.; there is a list here:, and there is the Connexions program at Rice (, along with many smaller OER repositories, esp. in community college systems (Maricopa Learning Exchange, etc.). It seems to me that for all the same reasons that a repository benefits us as scholars (stable URL, wide dissemination, as you pointed out in your post here), it offers the same benefits to those of us who, as teachers, share our teaching materials openly. For example, the Latin anthology of Aesop’s fables I wrote for intermediate Latin students has been downloaded over 4000 times the last time I checked – Mille Fabulae et Una. It’s a textbook for Latin students, not a work of scholarship, but it is the kind of thing I would gladly put in the repository in addition to distributing it myself if OU is amenable. I’m guessing there are other faculty members who have written textbooks who might be willing to share them in this way. Let me know what you think!

        • Sarah Robbins

          Laura, thank you for the links, and I will certainly bring up this idea to those working on our institutional repository. With a new Dean of Libraries starting next month, it’s hard to know exactly what direction we will take, but I do foresee us becoming more heavily invested in digital initiatives such as this on campus.