Teaching and Learning: Partnering with Faculty

The Boston College Libraries have long supported faculty teaching and student learning through programmatic library instruction and individual student consultations.

Professor Robert Savage’s class Propaganda and the Great War
Professor Robert Savage’s class Propaganda and the Great War

The Boston College Libraries have long supported faculty teaching and student learning through programmatic library instruction and individual student consultations, both of which are geared to developing skills for finding and evaluating information in a global context. Last year, library instructors at Boston College taught over 350 sessions; reaching approximately 10,000 students across all disciplines.  Sessions included classroom visits, orientations, resource-specific workshops as well as supplemental instruction provided through online tutorials. Classroom visits ranged from a 20 minute classroom presentation to a librarian being embedded in the course and attending each class during the semester. Although most sessions were held in the classroom, some were held in the O’Neill Library instruction space to allow students to gain hands-on experience.  The Burns Library also hosted classes throughout the year with some classes, such as Making History Public, which met exclusively at the Burns Library. The partnership with the History Department enabled students to work with rare and special collections, use primary source materials and culminated with an exhibition featured in Stokes Hall.

Professor Andre Brouillette, S.J.’s class The Jesuits in the Modern Church: Innovations and Struggles
Professor Andre Brouillette, S.J.’s class The Jesuits in the Modern Church: Innovations and Struggles

Faculty have reported on the benefits of the instruction sessions; they have seen an improvement in their students papers and the ability to find relevant scholarly resources as well as understand more about resources in their disciplines.  We have also heard from students, who contact us to tell us about their increased confidence in finding relevant resources and to thank us for the research help.

Learn more about  Library Instruction or Contact a Subject Librarian to discuss how library instructors can assist your students with their research, papers, or assignments.

New Digital Scholarship Project: The Burns Antiphoner

The Digital Scholarship Group and Dr. Michael Noone introduce the Burns Antiphoner, an interactive open access resource based on a 14th-century Franciscan antiphoner.

Screenshot of the Antiphoner website

The Digital Scholarship Group at Boston College Libraries and Dr. Michael Noone are proud to introduce Burns Antiphoner,  an interactive open access resource. Based on a 14th-century Franciscan antiphoner, music notation, metadata, performances and textual incipits can be queried and viewed via a dynamic presentation layer.[1] This project represents ongoing collaboration from many scholars and agencies.  The website includes scholarly essays about the manuscript written by Dr. Graeme Skinner (Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney) as well as videos of several performances from short sections of the manuscript by Schola Antiqua (dir. Juan Carlos Asensio Palacios), recorded in the Primate Cathedral of  St. Mary of Toledo, Spain. It received the support of an Academic Technology Innovation Grant at Boston College (2015 – 2017).

Missus est Gabriel (Missa est Gabriel [Missus est Gabriel] (fol. 17v)

About the manuscript:

(by Dr. Michael Noone and Dr. Graeme Skinner)

This fourteenth-century manuscript antiphoner (from the Latin antiphonale, or antiphonarium, a book of antiphons) is a volume of monophonic chant—plainsong, or plainchant—used by male or female religious personnel for singing the divine office of the Roman Catholic Church. In this instance, the book was almost certainly compiled for, and used by, members of the Franciscan (or Clarissan) order during the 1300s. The book contains the complete words and music for two genres of variable chants—antiphons and responsories—for the offices of the entire annual calendar of saints’ days (sanctorale), as well as text-only incipits or cues indicating other items to be sung, notably hymns (with metrical rhyming texts), and other items that were sung to simple melodic formulas (tones), such as versicles, psalms, and canticles (usually extracts from the Bible or other scriptures). As such, the volume originally complemented several other words-only books, including one containing the complete texts of the necessary psalms and canticles (psalterium). Another book also contained the words of the antiphons and responsories (without musical notation), and also the words of chapters and lessons (Biblical, patristic and hagiographic pericopes) and prayers, which were also sung to simple formulaic tones. The Franciscans—members of the Order of Friars Minor, founded by St. Francis—were the first to make and use the type of book described as a breviary (breviarium).

According to custom, there may have also been a companion volume containing the antiphons and responsories of the parallel annual Sunday cycle of the daily office (temporale), copied around the same time by some of the same scribes. By the late middle ages, it had become customary for liturgical chant books arranged in calendar order to begin with the pre-Christmas season. The movable temporal (Sunday) cycle started with the first Sunday in Advent, and the fixed-date sanctorale (saints-day) cycle with the major saint’s day usually closest to it, the feast of St. Andrew (30 November), as in the case of this manuscript.

The manuscript is currently on display in the exhibition Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections; Manuscripts for Pleasure & Piety, at the McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College, from September 12 – December 11, 2016.

The interactive manuscript:

Screenshot of the Antiphoner website

The interactive manuscript can be explored by scrolling through the digitized images of each folio (left side) with the corresponding incipit text (right side). Incipit texts (right side) contain information about the Feast, Office, Genre, and Mode relevant to each incipit, as well as musical notation that has been transcribed from the manuscript. The manuscript can also be searched according to the above descriptions (i.e. Feast), full-text, or musical incipit. A user guide includes further details and instructions on how to use the manuscript viewer.

The interactive manuscript was built on data drawn from the text and musical notation, which was was structured and encoded using MEI standards. This data is outputted as IIIF manifests and JSON, ingested and rendered with an IIIF image server and Lunr.js search index. The user interface was built on Diva.js and Jekyll. Our documentation, code, and data is shared in our GitHub repository, and the data is available to the scholarly community through a collaboration with CANTUS Database (CDB). Additional details outlining the technical infrastructure and praxis can be found online. This project involved collaboration with colleagues at Boston College and beyond, specifically staff in Digital Scholarship, Digital Library Programs, and Systems & Applications in the Boston College Libraries, the John J. Burns Library, and members of the Music Department.

Questions or feedback can be sent to Anna Kijas.

Multi-Touch Tables Offer a New Way to Experience Our Materials

Stop by to check out the new touch tables in O’Neill Library and Burns Library and learn more about how we are using these new devices.

This fall, the Boston College Libraries are introducing two multi-touch tables in our public areas to engage students, display digital content, and provide new ways to introduce, exhibit and teach with materials digitally. Library staff has developed two projects for display using software for touch and multi-touch tables over the course of this past summer. The first uses a just developed tool called “Omeka Everywhere” to display photos of student life over the history of Boston College in a new and engaging way. Users can sort through images by date and keyword, zoom in to examine details in the high-definition images, and refer to information about the image. The exhibit offers a fun window into Boston College’s impressive history of campus life, and can show students how their experiences at BC  are both similar to – and different from – those of past students.img_9805

The second project comes from faculty research and is a product of teaming with the Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Group.  Prof. Michael Noone’s study of an original fourteenth-century music manuscript held at the Burns Library was released this month as an online project, called Burns Antiphoner. Users are presented with high resolution digital images of every page of this Franciscan liturgical book, plus new research and data, as described in this newsletter. Using the touch table, users are presented with an enhanced version of the online resource and the ability to view manuscript images up-close and in greater detail. This large format makes the online resource suitable for discussion, collaboration and teaching.

Over the course of the fall semester, additional content  will be rolled out on the touch tables, including an exhibit created by a current Boston College student as part of the Bookbuilders of Boston program. We look forward to finding more ways to partner with faculty and students to create new exhibits and develop digital scholarship projects that take advantage of the capabilities of these touch tables. The touch table is also available for use by classes and we are happy to work with faculty to find ways to integrate it into instruction.

Stop by the third floor lobby of O’Neill Library or the lobby of Burns Library to try out one of the touch tables today! If you are interested in learning more about the touch tables or would like to discuss future project ideas, please contact Anna Kijas (kijas@bc.edu), our Senior Digital Scholarship Librarian.

Predators in the Open: The Dark Side of Open Access Journal Publishing

The proliferation of predatory journals has undermined confidence in open access publishing; due diligence can help authors avoid their scams and choose high-quality open access journals.

This is a cautionary tale about predatory open access journals. We want to warn you about their unethical practices so that you can protect yourself, but also urge you not to forego the benefits that open access provides because of a few bad actors.

Many factors led to the rise of open access journals. The widespread use of the internet and ease of digital creation made entry into the online journal field inexpensive and easy. The constantly rising costs of traditional journals, shrinking competition by fewer and fewer mega-publishers, creation of inflexible “big deal” packages of journals, and the entrenched systems of journal ranking that factor into tenure decisions are a few of the important catalysts.

New business models and new institution-based academic publishers have emerged to relieve pressure on library budgets and to wrest control of knowledge dissemination from the hands of a few publishers.  While most open access publications are funded by other means (institutional subsidies, for instance), many of the best known are funded by author fees or article publishing charges (APCs). When this model emerged, many observers of academic publishing were reminded of the old vanity publishers and assumed that these journals were not peer-reviewed or high-quality.

Journals such as BioMed Central and PLoS, both open access mega-journals, led the way in establishing the fact that a journal that charges APCs can nonetheless be high-quality and influential.

With a low barrier to entry (a web page and an email address), opportunists saw a chance to make easy money. They created fleets of open access journals with similar names, sometimes confusingly similar to prestigious journals. They engage in aggressive marketing campaigns for potential contributors and board members, targeting established academics and vulnerable early-career professionals and graduate students. They extoll the benefits of open access, but often, if you look beneath the hood, there is no quality content there.

Some outrageous practices of these predatory journals include:

  • Listing no editorial board or naming board members without their consent or knowledge
  • Naming one person as Editor of multiple journals on unrelated topics
  • Claiming an “impact factor” when they do not have one, or have one from an impostor ISI (benefitting from confusion with the Institute for Scientific Information, the original creator of the impact factor)
  • Claiming to be indexed by reputable indexes when they are not
  • Advertising rigorous peer-review and a turn-around time that makes that claim implausible
  • Failing to disclose article publishing fees until after acceptance of the article

One of the outraged observers of these practices, Jeffrey Beall, a scholarly communication librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver, has created a useful, often consulted but sometimes  controversial list of “potential, possible, or probable predatory open access scholarly publishers”. His criteria for adding a publisher to the list are a litany of reprehensible practices. But Beall himself has been criticized for being too quick to label a publisher as predatory, particularly journals not published in western countries. Our objection is to Beall’s willingness to declare that, “While open access (OA) was initially promising, its weaknesses quickly began to appear.” Beall seems to ascribe the unethical practices of these publishers to the open access business model. We would argue that the weaknesses here are not inherent to open access but to those who want to make a quick buck. An excellent analysis of Beall’s list, and a discussion of its place along with “white lists” of ethical publishers such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and the Open Access Scholarly Publisher’s Association (OASPA) is available in: Beyond Beall’s List: Better understanding predatory publishers by Monica Berger and Jill Cirasella. (2015, March) College & Research Libraries News, 76 (3), 132-135.

Recently the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a complaint in Federal court against OMICS group, a publisher of over 700 open access journals. Inside Higher Ed reports that “[T]he commission is responding to a growing number of calls from people in academe for some sort of action to be taken against publishers that take advantage of scholars wishing to publish in open-access journals.” Their attorney stated:

“We take no sides between the traditional subscription model and the open-access model…. We believe both of them can be done in a fair, open, clear and lawful way. What we have a problem with here is people who are trying to benefit from the open-access model to scam people.”

The deficiencies of predatory journals are easy to discern with a quick background check. Our guide to Assessing Journal Quality includes a page on Open Access Journals and a checklist of positive and negative quality indicators that you can use to guide your evaluations. Being associated with a low-quality journal as an author or board member can be detrimental to your career, so it pays to be careful. If you have questions about a journal and would like a second opinion, your subject librarian can help you investigate their reputation.

In addition, it is important to understand the license that a journal applies to your work in order to make it open access. Most journals use some form of Creative Commons license. These define what re-use may be made of your work without asking for permission. The least restrictive Attribution license (CC-BY) allows a user to use the work for any purpose as long as they give appropriate attribution.  Some enterprising monograph publishers see this as free content to resell. Take a look at this monograph from Applied Research Press, for sale on Amazon for £237. If you “Look Inside” the book you will find an open access article freely available on BioMed Central. The license allows this, but it is disappointing to an author who expects her scholarship to be free. Be sure you understand the level of access that your chosen Creative Commons license conveys.

The benefits of open access; greater visibility, wider dissemination, higher citation counts, broader readership among non-specialists, and faster, more equitable dissemination of knowledge are too good to miss. They support the scholarly enterprise and the social justice mission of the University. It is important not to throw away those benefits because of the greed of a few bad actors. With a little due diligence you can avoid this trap and get the maximum exposure for your work.

Open October is coming! Watch the Library pages for more about Open Access at the BC Libraries.

Dataverse Community Meeting

Explore how Dataverse is being used at other institutions and how it can help you to manage your research data.

Boston College Libraries Dataverse LogoBoston College Dataverse was launched on April 19th, 2016 as the new data repository for researchers. At the second annual Dataverse Community Meeting at Harvard Medical School in July,  Barbara Mento, Data/GIS Librarian presented an overview of how Dataverse was introduced to Boston College researchers.

Other presentations included the building of Dataverse repositories in Brazil, China, Canada, and Germany along with implementations across the U.S. The uses of these dataverses range from coordinating data with mobile health tools, archiving economic data, and teaching empirical research to archiving world historical data.

To provide just one notable example, the Center for the History of Medicine Dataverse, which is still in development, supports the Center for the History of Medicine special collections. This archive will include oral histories and associated contextual records for oral histories conducted with individuals who participated in the NIH Normal Volunteer Patient Program between 1953 and 1983. This data will offer  a rich research environment for exploring clinical trials and how they were conducted and is an example the value  of non-numeric data  to researchers.

What was most impressive was the number of tools integrated with Dataverse, with more in the planning stages. In particular, BC researchers writing data management plans for proposals can benefit from this platform’s  integration with the DMP Tool. Other tools that have been integrated into Dataverse, include PLoS, DataCIte, and R. They also integrate Harvard’s WorldMap and TwoRavens statistical software for analysis of deposited data.

Presentations from the meeting are available at the Dataverse Community Meeting website. If you have any questions about depositing data in the Boston College Dataverse, please contact dataverse-support@bc.edu

Sage Research Methods

SRM Datasets is a collection of data exemplar in a variety of disciplines, to support teaching and learning about data collection and analysis. Each project includes the researchers’ notes on the reasoning behind their methodology along with an example from the researcher’s original data set. For more information, contact Adam Williams, Social Work Librarian.

Early Feminist Publications: The Lily, National Citizen and Ballot Box, and the Revolution

This database provides access to key 19th century American feminist newspapers and journals. The Revolution was the official publication of the National Woman Suffrage Association, lead by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. For more information, contact Leslie Homzie, Senior Research Librarian/Bibliographer.