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Software helps faculty and students gain exposure for research

July 24, 2013 : By Melissa Skinner/Liberty University News Service

Liberty University’s scholarship is gaining popularity in the searchable Digital Commons Network where its publications are often among the top ranked in terms of downloads. This year alone, Liberty has had 1,353,599 downloads, increasing its Digital Commons use by 44 percent. That brings the total downloads to more than 3 million.

Liberty and its library partnered with Berkeley Electronic Press, which developed Digital Commons, to optimize the university’s document exposure on the Web.

Digital Commons is used at universities, colleges, law schools, and research centers to showcase an institution’s research and scholarship. The online portal displays faculty research, student scholarship, annual reports to open-access journals, conference proceedings, and monographs.

Liberty uses Digital Commons as a means for faculty and students to make their scholarly research and writings available to the global academic community.

Since being implemented, four schools within the university have established online journals and more than 150 faculty members have contributed content. Digital Commons also archives the theses and dissertations of Liberty’s honor students, master’s, and doctoral candidates.

“The mission of Liberty University Digital Commons is capturing, preserving, and freely distributing the scholarship of our community,” said Rachel Schwedt, associate dean for research and customer service. “As an online repository for disseminating, storing, and preserving the educational and research output of Liberty, it provides a web-based vehicle through which these resources can be made available to the global academic community.”

Publications preserved in Digital Commons include theses, dissertations, and peer-reviewed journals in fields such as education, theology, business, fine arts, and government, as well as newsletters, book reviews, faculty publications and presentations, and archived historical materials from Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church.  

 “Our partnership with Berkeley Electronic Press has surely been a major factor in our success. The company works hard to optimize search engine results,” Schwedt said. “It is somewhat surprising how prominently our resources show up in Google. According to the company, their services increase the visibility of an institution’s documents.”

The library will move from its current location in Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center to the new Jerry Falwell Library when the four-story, 100,000-square-foot building opens in spring 2014.

With the new library, Liberty University continues to sustain the legacy of its founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr., while forging an exciting new era of academic excellence and spiritual strength.