Open Access and Universities: A Hidden NPL Treasure, Part 2

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The last post illustrated the benefits and controversies behind Open Access (OA) publishing.  The OA movement provides users with free access to scholarly literature usually behind expensive pay-walls, but OA has also created predatory publishers who exploit article authors that are willing to pay a fee to publish their work.  How can you avoid the low-quality websites created by predatory OA publishers?  One method of locating quality OA literature, including journal articles, theses, and technical reports, is to visit an Open Access university repository.

After the jump, we’ll look at three examples of OA repositories: Harvard’s DASH, Dspace@MIT, and University of Maryland’s DRUM.  I’ll also do a test search to see what kind of NPL I can find in an OA university repository!

Harvard – DASH

The Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard (DASH) describes itself as “a central, open-access repository of research by members of the Harvard community.”  The homepage of DASH includes “Featured Works,” while a side bar provides access to the keyword or advanced search forms.  Users also have the option to browse by Communities and Collections, Harvard-affiliated authors, All Authors, Titles, Keywords, FAS Departments, Issue Date, or Submit Date.  The full record of a document in DASH includes the title, author, citation, a link to the PDF version of the full-text article, an abstract, any links to published versions of the article on other sites, the terms of use for the article, and a citable permanent link to the document record in DASH.

Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard (DASH)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology – DSpace@MIT

DSpace@MIT from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) describes itself as “MIT’s institutional repository built to save, share, and search MIT’s digital research materials including an increasing number of conference papers, images, peer-reviewed scholarly articles, preprints, technical reports, theses, working papers, and more.”  The homepage includes a list of departmental communities and the latest news on Open Access in the MIT community.  Users can conduct a quick search through a single search bar or use an advanced search form with multiple fields connected by Boolean operators.  Users can also browse by Communities and Collections, Issue Date, Authors, Titles, or Subjects.  Fields within the full record for the documents include title, author, issue date, abstract, a permanent URL, other identifiers, keywords, and a link to files included in the document.

DSpac@MIT from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

University of Maryland – DRUM

The Digital Repository at the University of Maryland (DRUM) contains “three types of materials in our collections: faculty-deposited documents, a Library-managed collection of UM theses and dissertations, and collections of technical reports,” according the the section “About DRUM.”  The homepage includes links to general information about the website, a list of collections organized by department, and news on the latest additions to DRUM.  Users can enter queries through a quick or advanced search form, and they can browse by Communities and Collections, Issue Date, Author, or Title.  The full record of a document includes the title, authors, document type, keywords, issue date, abstract, permanent URL, which collections the document belongs to, and files of the document.

Digital Repository at the University of Maryland (DRUM).

Searching in an OA University Repository

I tried a test search in DRUM, a basic OA repository from a state university, to see what types of relevant NPL I could find.  I searched on the topic of ceramic capacitors.  I first located the advanced search form, which can be found by clicking the “Advanced Search” link under the quick search field in the upper left of the homepage.  I decided to search All of DRUM, instead of choosing a specific collection from the drop-down menu.  I then searched for the terms “ceramic” and  “capacitor” in the “Abstract” field of the document.  I connected the terms with the Boolean operator AND.

A search for ceramic capacitors in DRUM.

I retrieved one relevant result, a dissertation titled “Moisture in Multilayer Ceramic Capacitors” by Daniel Donahoe.  The result set for a specific topic may be small in an OA repository, but you might find one or two very good pieces of prior art that you wouldn’t find through a subscription database.  Users should also try browsing through relevant collections within the repository, depending on the topic they are searching for.


The Open Access movement has stirred a lot of controversy within the scholarly community, with the cost of publishing the journal articles, the growth of predatory publishers, and the lack of citations to OA articles. Many wonderful resources have also arisen from this emerging model, like an entire Directory of Open Access Journals and many OA repositories hosted by prestigious universities.  Prior art searchers can find all types of non-patent literature in the repositories, ranging from peer-reviewed articles to technical reports and theses. 

Have you ever found useful prior art through your Alma Mater?  Was it through a digital repository, university library, or a contact from an alumni network?  Let us know in the comments!

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This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.

One Response

  1. […] Open Access, University Repositories « Patent Profession Questions: Gear Grinder #5 Open Access and Universities: A Hidden NPL Treasure, Part 2 » LikeBe the first to like this […]

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