Using Dspace for student journal cite-checking assignments
There has been much discussion lately about the problems faced by student journals at law schools. With the dramatic loss of print subscriptions over the last few years, student journals have been faced with funding challenges. Additionally, law librarians have become increasingly frustrated with how students “reinvent the wheel” every year when they take over control of a journal. This includes re-designing the website every academic year, or even redoing the journal’s branding. Ultimately, this is destructive to these journals particularly as they are increasingly forced to rely on their web presence to reach their readers.
One solution popular at conferences this year is BePress’ Digital Commons. This is a digital repository, much like Duraspace, Dspace, Fedora Commons and others. But in addition to document hosting, it also creates the web presence for a student journal that enables readers to search and download articles. I’ll be attending a presentation on using BePress for student journals at the AALL Annual Meeting in two weeks.
A solution I have been working with over the last few months is Dspace. Although not designed to be the “web presence” for a journal, I have discovered that it works nicely for student cite-checking assignments. Many student journals are requiring prospective editors to make electronic copies of the materials referenced in the cite-checking document and upload these to be checked and verified. Some journals are simply using email for this, others are using Dropbox, and others are using tools they’ve discovered on their own. Unfortunately, some students are also trying to “reinvent the wheel” with these tools as well. Hopefully, by having the library provide the tools needed for these assignments, the journals will have more consistently and stability from one year to the next.
So far, I have been very pleased with Dspace. I was able to make a new theme rather easily and modify the metadata which displays so that students can enter in Bluebook citations. I’ve also modified the browse and search indexes so that Bluebook citations appear as an option. Since I am not using this as a true “repository” I have decided to not bother with the Handle Server built-in to Dspace. This provides a persistent URL so that users can cite directly to the Dspace archive.
I’d love to hear from other law schools who are using either BePress or Dspace and how it is working on your campus. As you can see from this screenshot, I am also using Dspace in its traditional role as a digital archive. I am storing documents from AALL’s SR-SIS in advance of their anniversary celebration this year.