Today’s scholars are increasingly finding value in ensuring that the research, community projects, and creative endeavors they produce are published freely and openly online. Furthermore, the development and widespread use of immerging technology tools has allowed researchers to produce work across a remarkable variety of digital formats, including digital exhibits, digital maps, data visualizations, interactive websites, and custom-built databases.
Faculty and students at Ball State University can now partner with University Libraries to explore, produce, and publish this dynamic, multi-modal scholarship freely on the web at no cost to creators. Through this collaborative service, University Libraries is currently making available over 20 scholarly works via digitalresearch.bsu.edu, a web portal designed to provide online access to interactive research and creative works produced at Ball State. Campus community members can employ a wide range of platforms including the web publishing tool WordPress and Omeka, a digital scholarship and digital exhibit application, to produce creative research reaching broad and diverse audiences.
Included are immersive learning projects, annotated digital exhibits, community-based journalism initiatives, and works of interactive storytelling. Each project receives its own unique URL. Web hosting is provided through Reclaim Hosting, a web hosting service custom-tailored for educational institutions and managed by the University Libraries’ Office of Digital Research and Publishing.
“Individuals are able to increase the accessibility of their scholarly work via the internet whilst also lengthening the lifespan of that scholarship,” explains Jordan Bratt, Digital Scholarship Strategist at Ball State University Libraries. In this role, he works with faculty, students, and staff on campus in planning, developing and producing innovative research using digital tools. “A website designed and built for a class project can be supported well beyond the conclusion of that course,” he added. “This opens up all sorts of possibilities for students to expand their portfolios for internships, jobs, and graduate school to include interactive, online scholarship hosted by Ball State.”
Prominent Ball State University projects published through this collaborative service include Indiana Crossroads: Hoosier Civil Rights, a virtual museum highlighting images and research about 100 significant figures, places, and events in Indiana Civil Rights history, Diversity and Disability in The Canterbury Tales, a digital project that analyzes and explores Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales by developing adapted texts and accessibility tools to broaden access to the original work, and Inform Muncie, a community journalism initiative that publishes news of local interest with an emphasis on stories pertaining to underrepresented and minoritized communities and populations.
University Libraries’ digital publishing services can give researchers the tools and expertise to share their scholarship online as well as the technology support needed to sustain these web-based projects long term. “Our digital research publishing services allow faculty and students to focus on their digital scholarship, without the associated technical overhead,” explains Katie Bohnert, Library Scholarly Publishing and User Interface Analyst, whose work advances numerous digital platforms and services at University Libraries. “They don’t have to find (or pay) services to register domain names or host their digital scholarship. The Libraries can take care of the back-end support details, such as security, analytics, and software updates,” she added.
“Working with the digital publishing team at the Library to get a seminars site hosted through the Library at the outset of the project has been a game changer,” said Laura A. Huffman, Media Director at Ball State University’s Virginia Ball B. Center for Creative Inquiry, who has worked closely with the Libraries to connect students in community-focused immersive learning classes with digital publishing services. “Students involved in VBC projects come from a wide variety of colleges, departments and disciplines–some with more technology experience than others–so the guidance that this team at the Library has been able to provide has been hugely helpful,” she added.
University students and faculty interested in creating and publishing dynamic scholarship online may contact the University Libraries’ Office of Digital Research and Publishing at firstname.lastname@example.org to explore collaborative opportunities.