Preserving Undergraduate Scholarship at Brown

By Andrew Creamer, Scientific Data Management Specialist, Brown University Library

Brown has a strong history of investing in undergraduate student research that continues into the present day. For instance, this past May, the Brown Daily Herald (BDH) ran an article about the University’s planned increase in this year’s generous amount of funding for the Karen T. Romer Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards (UTRAs). Over the last three decades, UTRAs have supported Brown undergraduate students’ collaboration with Brown faculty sponsors, and they have funded student research and teaching projects during the summer and the academic year.

Every summer, undergraduate student researchers, including some funded by UTRAs and some sponsored by other national and campus programs, get the opportunity to create and present an academic poster to share their research and work with each other and the campus community at the annual Brown University Research Symposium. The Research Symposium is overseen by Oludurotimi Adetunji, Director of Science Center Outreach and Associate Dean of the College, and active supporter of Brown University Library’s archiving of Brown University researchers’ digital scholarship in the Brown Digital Repository (BDR). Dean Adetunji uses the BDR to archive the animation data files produced through his science education initiative, Sci-Toons, which he oversees and creates with Brown undergraduate students.

In the spring of 2014, Dean Adetunji began a collaboration with members of Brown University Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship (CDS) to explore archiving in the BDR the academic poster data files created by undergraduate student researchers participating in the Research Symposium. Upon registering for the Symposium this year, students had for the first time the opportunity to opt in to have their poster files and related digital research products archived by the BDR. In late July, the Office of the Dean of the College and Brown University Library’s CDS sponsored an informational event for Research Symposium participants to help them prepare for formatting, describing, and uploading their research poster files to the BDR. After the Symposium at the end of summer 2014, the Brown Library will publish the uploaded posters in a digital collection within the BDR.

IMG_2678In this photo Dean Adetunji welcomes Research Symposium participants to the information session with CDS. CDS members and Dean Adetunji answered students’ questions and provided them with assistance with the uploading of their poster files to the BDR.

There are many reasons why the Brown University Library should archive the scholarship of undergraduate student researchers. Upon depositing a poster file into the BDR, undergraduate students receive a permanent link that they can add to any future publications, a personal or professional website, on their curriculum vitae (CV) for an application to graduate school or on a résumé for an employer. Students can share this link with their collaborators, family and friends, and they can also increase the impact and dissemination of their work because items in the BDR are discoverable on the Web by internet search engines. In the years ahead, future undergraduate student researchers at Brown will be able to look through the Research Symposium digital collection in the BDR to look for inspiration and ideas, and observe the types of research conducted by former students; they will have the opportunity to carry on past research, add new knowledge, make new discoveries, and build upon the preserved foundation of Brown undergraduate student research.

IMG_2679In this photo, Joseph Rhoads, Manager of the BDR, walks students through the upload process using an online submission system he created with Benjamin Cail, Digital Library Programmer.