Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some FAQ questions that will address some of our author’s issues. They are not yet arranged in any systematic order.

What is an institutional repository?

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) defines an institutional repository as “digital collections that capture and preserve the intellectual output of university communities.” Institutional repositories provide a way for university authors to provide broader access to their publications.

IRs, like Digital Commons @ Otterbein, are an excellent vehicle for working papers or copies of published articles and conference papers. Presentations, senior theses, and other works not published elsewhere can also be published in the IR. It is also a location for the preservation of institutional records.

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What is the difference between Digital Commons @ Otterbein and the other web sites?

Digital Commons @ Otterbein use an institutional repository software that :
  • provides a framework to store and retrieve the research output of an entire institutitution
  • allows and enhances retrieval in full-text search capabilities
  • provides large-scale, stable, long-term storage and preservation of the institution’s scholarly output
  • is part of a global scholarly network that enhances the visibility of scholars and their institutions and that encourages exchange between researchers

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What is an embargo? Should I request one?

In publishing, an embargo is delayed publication. A limited amount of information (the title of your work, and abstract if available) will be available, once your material is submitted, but the full text of your work will not be visible for a set period of time. You can embargo your work every two years, for a maximum of a four year embargo. Once the embargo concludes, your work will be made available online. For students, please discuss with your advisor as to whether or not you should embargo. For faculty and staff, please contact your library liaison concerning your options.

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Are other universities doing this?

Yes. Institutional repositories are an established feature of many institutions and are part of the open access movement. Since at least 2002 viable institutional repositories have been available. As of 2014, numerous large and small institutions have repositories on their campuses. OpenDOAR lists over 2,000 repositories worldwide, and bepress, the software used by Otterbein, has been in existence since 1999 and over 320 institutions use this software. Within Ohio, The College of Wooster, Wright State University, Cedarville University, and Cleveland State University, among others, all use Bepress.

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Can I withdraw my item from the repository?

No, not usually. Digital Commons @ Otterbein is designed to provide long-term, persistent access to deposited items. However, there may be rare exceptions that necessitate the removal of an item. If we receive a request to withdraw an item, we will review the item to make a final determination. Please contact with requests for removal of items from Digital Commons @ Otterbein.

Since any item within the Repository may have been cited via its persistent URL, a removed item will always supply a“tombstone” whenever the item is requested. The tombstone will contain metadata for the item with a message indicating the item was removed. The tombstone metadata will be visible to those who already have its persistent URL, but your deposit and its metadata will no longer be searchable and the items will no longer be available for harvesting by services such as Google and OAIster.

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Who owns the copyright to materials in the Repository?

Copyright ownership belongs to the author of the work submitted, unless they have transferred those rights. For example, if an article was published in a journal, the author has often transferred their copyright to the journal. The repository only has a non-exclusionary right to display and preserve the work. Works presented in the depository are protected by the copyright laws of the United States.

There may be some instances when works in the repository are governed by rules other than U.S. Copyright. One scenario is if a work has a Creative Commons license. These licenses can allow for broader sharing, but can be tailored to provide some protections. If you wish to provide a creative commons license for your work, please contact Allen Reichert. Another scenario is if the work has already been published under open access terms, which may allow for further redistribution. Finally, some works may be in the public domain and be available with no restrictions.

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What are the benefits for submitting my work to the digital repository?

Research has demonstrated that with appropriate search mechanisms added, online open access articles have appreciably higher citation rates than traditionally published articles. This type of visibility and awareness benefits both you as the creator and Otterbein University as an institution.

Specific benefits include:

  • Obtain a persistent URL that will not break if a server gets moved or changed which will allow others to reach your material without error.
  • Visibility of your work in a centralized location means more of your peers can find and cite your work (via searches in Google Scholar and other federated search engines), providing you with a wider audience, increasing use and possible citation of your publications.
  • Inclusion of your work in the full range of scholarship practiced at Otterbein University provides you with institutional recognition.
  • Retain control of intellectual property rights to your unpublished work by granting a non-exclusive license to the Digital Commons @ Otterbein.
  • Context for your work, placing you side-by-side with the scholarly and creative contributions of your colleagues.
  • Create a digital archive of more of your work, including CVs and previously unpublished work, such as conference presentations and white papers.
  • Continuity so that your work is assured a stable online location that can be cited now and in the future.
  • Complements existing print and electronic sources in your field.
  • Gain a more complete view of what other research goes on Otterbein which can foster cross-disciplinary scholarly collaborations

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What material can be added to the repository?

The Digital Commons @ Otterbein is a dynamic institutional repository system, based on the principle of open access, that enables us to collect, distribute to the broader community, and preserve the scholarly output of the faculty, students, staff, and their collaborators at Otterbein University.
  • The work must be original, produced and submitted (or sponsored by) a faculty, staff, student, organization, or department of Otterbein University.
  • The work must be either creative or scholarly in nature, research-oriented, or of institutional significance.
  • Because deposits are intended to be permanent contributions to the repository, works that are in progress or ephemeral in nature are not recommended for contribution.
  • The author must own the copyright to all components and content within the work, or have received and be able to show permission to make the material available.
    • If your work contains images, music, data sets, or other accompanying material that is not original work created by you, you must include permission from the original content provider or those items will not be included in the IR submission.
    • If your work includes interviews, you must include a statement that you have permission from the interviewee(s) to make their interviews public.

By submitting for inclusion, the author or representative of the organization or department grants the University the right to distribute and preserve the material via the Digital Commons @ Otterbein.

Some material may be available only to current university faculty, staff, and students.

At this time, there is no formal limit to size of material but Collection Administrators or the Commons Coordinator reserve the right to deny inclusion of artifacts that are too large.

Various file formats are accepted; refer to Digitization Standards for more information.

Examples of possible content are:

  • Working papers, conference papers, and technical reports
  • Student papers or projects
  • Faculty-student collaborative projects
  • Journals published by the Otterbein community
  • Published articles when copyright and/or license allow
  • Faculty course-related output primarily of scholarly interest
  • Organizational annual reports and newsletters
  • Data sets

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What do I need to do to add material to the repository? Is it time consuming?

Not at all. For faculty and staff contact the library at ( The library will assist in digitizing, getting permissions if necessary and uploading your work.

For students, please follow the appropriate guidelines if this is a thesis or dissertation. If this is a student project associated with an Otterbein department or organization, please contact the depository coordinator to discuss if your work is applicable for inclusion. If so, the library will assist.

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What if my work has been previously published?

Most journal publishers require you to give your ownership rights to the publisher in return for having your article published. However, each publisher has a different policy regarding institutional repositories. Certainly, the library can help you investigate what rights you might have to post your work to the repository.

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Can I update or revise my submission?

No, not usually. Digital Commons @ Otterbein is designed to provide long-term, persistent access to deposited items. However, authors may request that updated documents be posted. Posting updated versions along with the original material is the preferred way to show the progress of research. If we receive a request to update an item, we will review the item to make a final determination. Please contact with requests for updating items in Digital Commons @ Otterbein.

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What file formats are acceptable?

Although most digital formats can be uploaded to Digital Commons @ Otterbein, to assure long-term operability and improved search engine results of textual information, submissions in PDF format are encouraged. If a PDF is not available or your work exists only in print format, the library will assist you.

The library will make our best efforts to maintain the content, structure and functionality of work you deposit. However, not all formats can receive the same level of preservation commitment particularly with proprietary or uncommon file formats.

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Couldn’t someone just plagiarize my work?

Once your work is in a tangible form, it is protected by US copyright laws. You maintain all the rights to your work that appears in the Digital Commons. If you want to choose additional protection, you can register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. Please see their website for details. Conversely, you may decide to make your work more accessible by releasing it under a Creative Commons license. If you wish to provide your work under a Creative Commons license please contact Allen Reichert.

While it is true that the presence of your work online makes it easier for someone to copy, it is also easier to detect this plagiarism since work in an open access repository is discoverable by search engines.

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When looking at previously published articles, sometimes the version is listed as pre-print, post-print, or publisher's. What is the difference?

Journals have different policies on what they will allow to be posted in a repository. The pre-print version of an article is one that was submitted to a journal and accepted, but has not gone through the peer review process. A post-print article has gone through the peer review process, but has not undergone the final editing process. The publisher's version is the final version as it appeared in the journal.

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