Building JSTOR’s Offline Solution for Prison Education

“I am thrilled to share with you a new JSTOR Labs report, Supporting the Academic Research Needs of Incarcerated Students: Building JSTOR’s Offline Solution for Prison Education.  This report documents our work, beginning in 2018, to develop and pilot an improved, offline version of JSTOR for use in prisons and jails. …

Report Abstract

Incarcerated students often lack access to the resources and conditions, both physical and digital, that make self-directed research and research skill-building possible. Due to technical constraints – most notably the lack of internet access in most prison environments – few incarcerated students have access to research databases commonly used by students to discover scholarly content that is relevant to their coursework, research projects, and broader learning pursuits. Not only does lack of research experience have an impact on students’ ability to engage with academic work, but it also leaves students without the fundamental information and digital literacy skills that are increasingly essential for future work and continued learning. Since 2007, JSTOR, a digital library of scholarly resources, has been making strides to amend this gap in available scholarly resources and research tools by providing JSTOR access to incarcerated learners. This paper describes the work undertaken by JSTOR Labs, an experimental product development team at JSTOR, to develop an offline index of scholarly resources designed to serve the research needs of incarcerated students. Supported by the Mellon Foundation, this project yielded lessons regarding how to scale access to digital scholarly resources given the changing landscape of technology in prison, and continues to shape JSTOR’s work to help improve higher education in prison and reduce barriers for student research.”

Some Observations on Research4Life’s New Strategic Plan for Vision 2030 – The Scholarly Kitchen

“To me the new R4L strategy is an exciting one, not only because of the amount of effort that was put into gathering evidence before preparing it, but also for three other reasons. First, over the past 20 years, R4L has evolved into an influential platform bringing together five UN agencies, more than 200 publishers, two top universities of the world, and several technical partners to support the Global South’s to access research. Second, R4L currently benefits hundreds and thousands of researchers in over 10,500 institutions located in more than 125 countries who are accessing more than 163,000 journals and books. The estimated worth of this access is more than US$ 48 million per year. My country, Bangladesh, hosts 481 institutions (as of 2021), which is surpassed only by Nigeria (705) and Nepal (592). It was simply amazing to listen to librarians and researchers express how they appreciated R4L as I was conducting the R4L users’ interviews. So, it was no surprise when researchers said R4L was very valuable for their careers (97% of respondents), for their research skills (86%), and for their research quality (87%) as well as quantity (78%).

Third, since the inception of R4L in 2002, many positive and not-so-positive developments have taken place in the scholarly publishing sector: open access and preprints are changing the still predominantly subscription-based journal publishing landscape; predatory journals and piracy against paywall-restricted journals remains a concern; infrastructural advancements are transforming publishing workflows and journal access, making the whole system almost paperless; and the focus on sustainable development as well as DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility) has gained significant traction in the publishing industry. It’s therefore quite natural to expect some significant shifts in R4L’s strategy as the organization enters in its third decade….”

Serving our community in difficult times: a letter from Kevin Guthrie – ITHAKA

“At the onset of the pandemic in 2020, we promised that fees would not increase for JSTOR participants through 2023. We also introduced a year-long program that provided participating academic institutions with access to all Archive Collections at no additional cost. Since then, we extended that program for another year, and to date nearly 5,000 institutions have taken advantage of it….

Consistent with our mission-driven aspirations, and considering the current public health, economic, and political environment, we have decided to extend the expanded access program to participating higher education institutions for a third year, through June 2023….”


5 ways Google Scholar helps you get access to what you discovered | Aaron Tay’s Musings about librarianship

“If there is one academic discovery search that dominates it is Google Scholar.

Much has been said about it’s merits , particularly over library discovery systems but even the best discovery service will not be popular if it does not help the user access the full text whether open access or based on the user’s own unique circumstances (typically institutional affiliation).

In this blog post, I will list 5 different ways Google Scholar helps a user get to full text. The last two were methods I recently discovered and it seems may not be very well known even by academic librarians.

They are 

1. Free full text tagged [PDF] or [HTML]

2. Library Links programme

3. Library search via Open WorldCat Search

4. The print/or non-electronic holdings option…

5. Subscriber links programme …”

Disseminating medical literature and knowledge in India in the 1980s: the SMLRT story | Journal of the Medical Library Association

Abstract:  The informed netizen of today is in a state of information overload. With 785 million broadband subscribers and an urban and rural teledensity of 138% and 60%, respectively [1], India is already the second-largest online digital market. Today, in theory, medical journals and textbooks can be accessed by anyone, anytime, anywhere, and at affordable rates. Fifty odd years ago, when the authors entered medical school, the use of computers in medical education was unknown in India, as in other parts of the world. It was in this milieu, thirty-seven years ago, that eleven young Madras (Chennai)-based doctors decided to make medical literature easily accessible, particularly to clinicians in suburban and rural India. The aim was to make relevant, affordable reprints easily available to the practitioner at their place of work or study. Photocopying and using the postal service was the chosen, and indeed the only available, mode of operation. This article will outline the methodology used, trials and tribulations faced, and persistence displayed. At that time, the processes deployed appeared relevant and truly innovative. Over the ensuing years, developments in information technology made the services redundant. Extensive, even revolutionary, changes such as universal digitization and availability of a cost-effective Internet radically changed how medical literature could be accessed in India.


The Wikipedia Library: Accessing free reliable sources is now easier than ever – Diff

“Active editors can now make use of a cross-publisher search platform and a new interface design for The Wikipedia Library, which provides free access to research materials to improve your ability to contribute content to Wikimedia projects. We are also excited to share that editors will now receive an on-wiki notification about the library when they become eligible to start using it!

If you’re an active editor who has made more than 500 edits and your account is more than 6 months old you can go ahead and start using the library right away. Read on for more information on the improvements we’ve been making recently.

Nine years ago, Wikipedia editor Jake Orlowitz asked Highbeam – an aggregator of news articles, academic journals, and other reliable sources – if they might be able to provide him with a free account to their website so that he could do research for a Wikipedia article. They offered him 1,000 accounts, and encouraged him to distribute them amongst Wikipedia’s editing community so that everyone who wanted to use their resources on Wikipedia could do so.

Since then, a further 75 organisations have partnered with the Wikimedia Foundation to provide thousands of Wikipedia editors with free access to paywalled sources. Over this time, the program became a fully resourced project at the Wikimedia Foundation, and plans were made for a centralised signup and distribution tool capable of providing seamless searching and access capabilities for library users….”

Mellon Foundation awards ITHAKA $1.5 million to make JSTOR accessible to incarcerated college students – ITHAKA

“The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded ITHAKA a new $1.5 million grant to provide incarcerated college students with access to JSTOR, a digital library of journals, books, and other materials. Our aim is for every incarcerated college student in the United States to have access to JSTOR, along with the research skills to use this and other digital resources.

One of the most significant educational challenges that incarcerated college students face is easy, reliable access to high-quality library resources to support their learning. Prisons often do not provide internet access to individuals or offer only limited access to digital resources, sometimes at high cost. This challenge has only grown in the last 12 to 18 months as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up the need for digital learning solutions and higher education became more accessible to incarcerated individuals through financial aid expansions, including Second Chance Pell….”

Affordable textbook programs save students $4.9 million | Nebraska Today | University of Nebraska–Lincoln

“Since 2019, affordable content programs have saved students an estimated $4.9 million on textbook costs, and have replaced over 80,000 textbooks with affordable content.

Multiple affordable textbook programs have been implemented at the University of Nebraska. There are two inclusive access programs: Follett Access (Campus Bookstore) and Unizin Engage. The third program is an OER seed grant program through the STAR initiative….”

Introducing —

“Against this backdrop, a new sales model known as Inclusive Access has taken off. Also known as automatic textbook billing, this model adds the cost of digital course content into students’ tuition and fees. Hardly known five years ago, one in three college students reported participating in at least one Inclusive Access course during the 2020-21 academic year.

How exactly does Inclusive Access work? Does it really really save students money? What about this kind of program is “inclusive”? Straightforward answers to these questions aren’t always easy to find. is a community-driven initiative to raise awareness of the facts about automatic textbook billing. The site aims to be a one-stop-shop for information, tools, and other resources to help administrators, faculty, students, and policymakers make informed decisions about Inclusive Access and its implications for the campus community. was developed by SPARC with generous support from the Michelson 20MM Foundation. Partners include AAC&U, Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, Creative Commons, DigiTex, Student PIRGs, Open Education Global, and OpenStax. …” – The Facts on Automatic Textbook Billing

“Inclusive Access is a textbook sales model that adds the cost of digital course content into students’ tuition and fees. 

While Inclusive Access is intended to address high textbook costs, it also creates challenges for students and faculty. The higher education community deserves to understand the facts….

Inclusive Access, also known as automatic textbook billing, is a sales model for college textbooks. Temporary digital content is delivered to students by the first day of their course, often through a learning management system. Students have a short period to “opt out” before they are automatically billed for the content as part of their tuition and fees. At the end of the course, students lose access. 

Inclusive Access is known by a variety of names including First Day, ACCESS, All Access, Auto Access, Course Material Fee, Day One Access, Equitable Access, and Immediate Access….”

We encourage you to share your article widely – but not too much | Plan S

“Has anyone else noticed the conflict of advice that exists in the Springer Nature (SN) SharedIt initiative? On the face of it, it appears a good thing – actively encouraging authors to share their research – until you get into the weeds of what is permitted and required. [Added emphasis in quotations are all mine]

SN states that it 

“wants researchers to share content easily”

and that it wishes 

“to enable researchers to share articles of interest with collaborators and colleagues. We also wish to enable authors to share their research articles widely” 

and proudly trumpets that using its SharedIt initiative 

“links to view-only, full-text subscription research articles can be posted anywhere – including on social media platforms, author websites and in institutional repositories – so researchers can share research with colleagues and general audiences.” 

For now, let’s skate over the fact that this initiative is ‘read only’. As a SN author at this point, you might think – great. Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

Those pesky Terms & Conditions

You have been sent the SharedIt link to your article and are excited because you’re told that you:

“Can post shareable links to view-only versions of [your] peer-reviewed research paper anywhere, including via social channels, institutional repositories and authors’ own websites as well as scholarly collaborative networks.”

It says ‘anywhere.’ Excellent. Then you read the SharedIt Terms & Conditions (Ts & Cs). 

“We support a reasonable amount of sharing of content by authors, subscribers and authorised users (“Users”), for small-scale personal, non-commercial use provided that you maintain all copyright and other proprietary notices.

This is quite a difference: only a “reasonable amount of sharing” is supported. That is a long way from “anywhere”. It certainly doesn’t sound like the “wish to enable authors to share their research articles widely” SN started out with. ‘Small-scale’ is even more limiting. I would have expected researchers might want ‘mega-scale’, worldwide interest in and access to their hard-won work….”

Wikipedia Is Finally Asking Big Tech to Pay Up | WIRED

“FROM THE START, Google and Wikipedia have been in a kind of unspoken partnership: Wikipedia produces the information Google serves up in response to user queries, and Google builds up Wikipedia’s reputation as a source of trustworthy information….

The two have grown in tandem over the past 20 years, each becoming its own household word. But whereas one mushroomed into a trillion-dollar company, the other has remained a midsize nonprofit, depending on the generosity of individual users, grant-giving foundations, and the Silicon Valley giants themselves to stay afloat. Now Wikipedia is seeking to rebalance its relationships with Google and other big tech firms like Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, whose platforms and virtual assistants lean on Wikipedia as a cost-free virtual crib sheet….

Today, the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates the Wikipedia project in more than 300 languages as well as other wiki-projects, is announcing the launch of a commercial product, Wikimedia Enterprise. The new service is designed for the sale and efficient delivery of Wikipedia’s content directly to these online behemoths (and eventually, to smaller companies too)….

The free, albeit clunky option will still be available to all users, including commercial ones. This means that Wikimedia Enterprise’s principal competition, in the words of Lisa Seitz-Gruwell, the foundation’s chief revenue officer, is Wikipedia itself….

But the formatting problems with the free version offer an obvious opportunity to create a product worth paying for, one tailored to the requirements of each company. For example, Enterprise will deliver the real-time changes and comprehensive data dumps in a compatible format. There will also be a level of customer service typical of business arrangements but unprecedented for the volunteer-directed project….

By offering more useful data, Enterprise will help ensure that commercial operators display the latest, most accurate version of articles and crack down on vandalism quicker. A contractual relationship will also more formally recognize that these companies are extracting value from a volunteer project, and therefore must “contribute back to the commons,” Seitz-Gruwell says. …”

Guest Post – Trends, Challenges, and Needs of Research in the Global South: Learnings as Research4Life Turns 20 – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Access to research knowledge is essential for developing new research and for informed policy decisions. But access to knowledge is not equal around the world; researchers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are significantly disadvantaged by access challenges.

This was the burning problem that Research4Life was set up to address, 20 years ago this year as the print to electronic migration was just gaining speed. Launched as Hinari by the World Health Organization (WHO) with 1500 journals from six major publishers, it now offers users up to 132,000 resources from 180 international partners. But partnering with publishers to facilitate access is not enough in itself; the resources have to be used effectively in a way that is relevant to users’ research, implementation and beyond.

This is why, every five years Research4Life commissions in-depth reviews of its work to understand how the work of the partnership is experienced from the users’ as well as the partners’ perspectives – looking at its infrastructure, external context or landscape, and user experience. Together, the reviews serve as a solid evidence base for future evolution as Research4Life plans its strategy for the next five years. Our most recent set of evaluations were conducted in 2020-2021….”

Wary EU vows to keep its research open to ‘most’ of the world | Science|Business

“Brussels presented a new global research agenda on Tuesday, committing to a more cautious approach to cooperation with foreign science powers, while at the same time pledging to reinvigorate ties with an EU-friendly US administration.

The blueprint, which has been in the works for months,  sets out “nuanced and modulated” rules of engagement with foreign countries based on “levels of reciprocity, a level playing field, and the respect for fundamental rights and shared values,” while protecting EU-funded research from those seeking to abuse the system.

Among other measures, the blue print promises:

A shift to cooperation around new strategic goals, such as the dual green and digital transition. The EU will adapt cooperation with particular countries and regions in light of this approach, giving priority to cooperation with countries in the wider European neighbourhood, to Africa, and to “like-minded” industrialised and emerging economies.
To weigh openness against the EU’s evolving pursuit of strategic autonomy, which could mean revising and limiting cooperation with certain foreign actors.
To boost the involvement of member states in setting the EU’s global science path…. 

Notably, the old ethos of “open to the world” espoused by former research commissioner Carlos Moedas is gone, to be replaced by “open to most of the world”….

DeepDyve Launches New Digital Library Platform, Bringing World Class Enterprise Literature Management Technology to Research Organizations

“DeepDyve, the leading enterprise literature management company, today announces the availability of the DeepDyve Digital Library, the industry’s first fully integrated platform aimed at helping research organizations discover, access, and manage research papers. The Digital Library is a one-stop platform designed for small to medium-sized teams and organizations needing easy and affordable solutions for reading and organizing scientific papers. This new offering provides access to more than 100 million journal articles and research papers – without the need for information professionals and IT staff….

The platform allows teams to search, organize and access the full text of five million open access articles and 20 million premium rentable papers from over 20,000 journals. In addition, researchers are able to purchase and download any paper from its comprehensive collection of 100 million citations available in the reference database. The Digital Library supports automatic de-duplication of purchases, so if one team member has already bought a paper, it will be available to all plan members, avoiding repeat charges and reducing waste….”