Peer Reviewed OER in Academic Works

Open textbooks are the rock stars of OER (open educational resources). They can save students significant amounts of money, and the adoption and creation of open textbooks attract financial support from our Governor here in New York. But when it comes time to put textbook learning into practice in accordance with college goals, assignments come into play. The Assessment Leadership Team (ALT) at LaGuardia Community College collected OER at the assignment level to create a peer reviewed library of assignments exemplifying the College’s Core Competencies and Communication Abilities that reflect the College’s collective vision for student learning. Called the Learning Matters Assignment Library (LMAL), this collection launched in October 2017. It supports faculty assignment development and encourages reflection on this process.

ALT’s Assignment Library leaders created a submission and peer-review process for assignments, many of which emerge from seminars held by the College’s Center for Teaching and Learning. Each assignment is reviewed by a faculty member in the discipline who focuses on how the assignment meets the core competency and communication ability it aligns with as well as the course’s learning objectives. The assignment creator receives this feedback and makes revisions as appropriate. Faculty with assignments accepted into the Assignment Library can use these as college contributions on their annual evaluations. This can help junior faculty on the road to promotion and tenure.

ALT also chose CUNY Academic Works, CUNY’s institutional repository, to house the Assignment Library. ALT leaders collaborated with the College’s Metadata Librarian and the University’s Scholarly Communications Librarian to develop a workflow for collecting metadata and posting assignments to a curated subsection within LaGuardia OER on Academic Works. Each assignment carries a Creative Commons license selected by the author and is available online for reuse, distribution, and more. And people are using these assignments. As of June 8, the Learning Matters Assignment Library has seen 1,122 downloads in 2018 with around 30% of those coming from outside the United States.

The Learning Matters Assignment Library now contains 25 assignments across a range of academic disciplines, from physical therapy and biology to composition and theater. It can be found at shortlib.org/s/assignmentlibrary or by browsing to LaGuardia’s OER section in Academic Works and clicking on the Learning Matters Assignment Library link. ALT is considering expanding the LMAL in future to include different kinds of materials, so stay tuned.

–  Elizabeth Jardine, Library Media Resources Center, LaGuardia Community College

This blog post is based on a presentation given at the NEC OER Summit in Amherst, Massachusetts on May 31, 2018.

It’s Not Just Always About You: Thinking about Preservation and Academic Works 

This morning, I walked past City Tech’s showcase for faculty work. The showcase is located in a stairwell that many students and faculty use to go from the main entrance to the first floor. Most of the time, the showcase features a faculty book with a reproduction of the cover and a press release featuring a photo of the author. 

Today, the display featured our student/faculty journal TECHNE. Published by our Architectural Technology department, TECHNE is a high quality, open access publication. It is common for schools of architecture to publish journals that features essays by students and faculty. TECHNE, like its counterparts at Yale, MIT, and other architecture programs, also highlights current student/faculty projects. For example, City Tech successfully competed in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon as Team DURA.  TECHNE, as a formal publication, helps to document Team DURA’s accomplishments.  

So, what does TECHNE and Team DURA have to do with scholarly communications and Open Access? TECHNE is open access. Anyone can read it. Team DURA has a beautiful, comprehensive website. All wonderful but will readers be able to find, let alone access, TECHNE decades or even nearer in the future? The answer to this question is where librarians and Academic Works come in. 

Ting Chin, one of the editors of TECHNE, reached out to the library in June 2016 about using Academic Works to disseminate the journal. After further discussion with Ting and a consultation with Megan Wacha, CUNY’s Scholarly Communications librarian, we decided to create a designated archives area for TECHNE within Academic Works. This ensures that the journal gets a wider readership: each issue has metadata to make it more findable. More importantly, TECHNE is now preserved.

We do not talk enough about preservation and the institutional repository. Why? Most non-library faculty are far more concerned with increasing their dissemination and related citation rate through making their articles open access. When I promote Academic Works, I keep the message focused on the immediate and short-term benefit to faculty. The profound importance of long-term preservation, however, does not usually come up in conversation unless I sense that my colleague is concerned about broader issues of information equity.

 Preservation, which provides for long-term findability and maintenance of our scholarly, creative, other works, is a core librarian and archivist value. For any librarian working with institutional repositories, preservation is also a core concern. When Megan came on board with CUNY, she shared Clifford Lynch’s still important article from 2003, “Institutional Repositories: Essential Infrastructure for Scholarship in the Digital Age.” Lynch’s words are still so powerful:  

an institutional repository is a recognition that the intellectual life and scholarship of our universities will increasingly be represented, documented, and shared in digital form, and that a primary responsibility of our universities is to exercise stewardship over these riches: both to make them available and to preserve them. (1)

Academic Works and other institutional repositories differ from other open access platforms specifically because institutional repositories are committed to long-term preservation. So many of our works are born-digital and lack the important metadata that makes these works findable. That further strengthens the need for preservation and the need for sharing your work in Academic Works.   

Yes, it’s not always about you. As we have moved away from print, we have not sufficiently thought about how future generations will have access to our creations. When you share your work in Academic Works and advocate for institutional repositories, you are making a major contribution to a sustainable scholarly future.  


(1) Lynch, Clifford A. “Institutional repositories: essential infrastructure for scholarship in the digital age.” portal: Libraries and the Academy 3.2 (2003): 327-336.

Event Announcement: “Publish Don’t Perish: Authors’ Rights When Authors Write”

Your research is central to your career and the advancement of knowledge in your field, but do you know your rights to what you write? Join librarians Liz Jardine (LaGuardia) and Megan Wacha (CUNY OLS) as they discuss how faculty can publish in the journals they want to publish in and still keep their rights. Topics will include: how to find and evaluate a journal to publish your work, reading and negotiating contracts, and how to distribute your work so it can have maximum impact.

When: 10 – 11:30AM on Thursday, May 12th
Where: Library Classroom, E101-B (campus map)

This event is open to all CUNY Faculty. To RSVP (or for more information), please contact Catherine Stern castern@lagcc.cuny.edu or Liz Jardine ejardine@lagcc.cuny.edu

Sponsors: LaGuardia Library Workshop Planning Committee & CUNY Office of Library Services

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