Author Archives: Josefine Ziebell

Open Access Workshop

This week I participated in the workshop “Open Access Explained: Best Practices for Finding Others’ Research and Publicly Sharing Yours” offered by Jill Cirasella, Associate Librarian for Scholarly Communication and Digital Scholarship, and Adriana Palmer, E-Resources Librarian, both at the GC library. The workshop was really informative, and designed to give ‘introductory doses’ for the field of Open Access. After our readings from this week, it was very interesting to then get to learn more about specific tools. The workshop introduced tools for:

  • Finding scholarship and getting around paywalls
  • Making you and you work more discoverable on the web
  • Providing freely accessible full text of your work
  • Tracking your scholarly impact
  • Navigating self-archiving commissions for journal articles

The workshop consisted of three sections: the consumption and the production of OA work as well as knowing your rights as a scholar who wants to publish OA work.

The first part was about where to find OA works as a student. The easiest way to look for open access information is through Google Scholar’s Right Side Links: if the work is open access, next to the article on the right side there should be a link that directs you to the OA work. If there is no link Jill emphasized that it is not only a question of accessibility but of discoverability since the tools sometimes can’t find the information/the work, so it’s always good to use the GC version of Google Scholar as it tells you if the GC has access to it. If there is a paywall, the tool Unpaywall (extension for the browser), an open database of free scholarly articles, can provide the peer reviewed manuscript version of an article. There is another browser extension, the Open Access Button, that delivers free and legal articles instantly, and through which (if provided) you can also send an email to the authors requesting access to their work. 

In the second part we talked about considering making our own scholarly work open access. Posting is generally allowed on institutional repositories (like for example CUNY Academic Works), disciplinary repositories (like arXis, SocArxiv, SSRN, etc.), and through Open Access via the publisher (what is considered “gold”or “bronze”OA). We focused on “green” open access: GC Publications & Research on Cuny Academic Works where you can submit your research. CAW provides an author dashboard, a personalized reporting tool for authors with works published on Digital Commons to view current download information for every work you publish as well as global insights into the sources of readership. The data is visualized as maps and statistics. I found this map of GC Publications & Research Readership since 2014 really interesting:

Jill and Amanda also mentioned to use a critical eye when evaluating resources you want to use to self-archive for public access, as some sites have a more commercial impetus for their practices than others, and this can also affect the types of services that may or may not be available to us. They also advised us to create scholarly profiles on for example CUNY Academic Commons, Humanities Commons or Google Scholar, and to follow ourselves to get alerts when we are cited. In the final part “Knowing your Rights” they addressed publisher contracts which I found very informative since I have not yet thought about issues related to that. As with most scholarly journals where you write for free and give it back for free, the reach is limited if the article is behind a paywall through the publisher. In order to share our scholarly work as broadly as we can, we should check publisher contracts, as they have evolved to give copyrights to scholars over the years but they are hard to find. Sherpa Romeo is a database for publisher and journal open access policies from around the world, giving information if you can publish your work online/if the publication allows for open access. 

Open access & scholarly communication discourse

The notion of public intellectuals and public scholarship in Fitzpatrick’s chapter “Working in Public” really resonated with me and made me think back to interviews I conducted with Christopher Long (who is mentioned in the chapter) and Dan Cohen (who is mentioned in the Drucker article) for a podcast project from last semester in which we talked about collaborative and open access projects that target broader audiences both within and outside the university. Christopher Long is the co-founder of the Public Philosophy Journal which has adopted a formative peer review process “that encourages engaged citizens from within and beyond the academy to work together through shared practices of writing [thus] shifting the peer review process from evaluation and gatekeeping to formation and shared learning” (Long, 2018). Long highlights the need to create a culture of shared scholarly practice, which I think is vital in the current socio-political climate. 

Fitzpatrick further emphasizes “that public intellectuals should take on more responsibility for communicating scholarly work to public audiences” (161). My interviews with Christopher and Dan also addressed new modes of scholarly communication that challenge the structures of traditional academic publishing and scholarly writing, focusing in particular on podcasting as a wide-ranging means of scholarly communication. Both of them make use of podcasts in their work as a bridging medium between the academic world and the public: Long created the Digital Dialogue Podcast in which he invited colleagues to discuss their work, and used a lot of the episodes as footnotes in the digital publication of one of his books; Cohen is the producer of the academic podcast What’s New, which he uses to promote other scholars’ works, and to emphasize the human pursuits of the academy, thus making research relatable to the public. I think another aspect of open access and scholarly communication discourse is the redefining of what constitutes scholarly communication. In the context of higher education, podcasting’s value as a method of research dissemination should also be considered a fundamental strand of the open access movement and provides a way of bringing research outside of the walls of the academy. 

Visualizing Incarceration rates

For this assignment, I wanted to continue to work with data that relates to mass incarceration. Searching for data, I found the non-profit, Prison Policy Initiative, which produces research and publishes data visualization projects that aims to expose “the broader harm of mass criminalization, and then sparks advocacy campaigns to create a more just society”. The Initiative emphasizes that due to the lack of accessibility of essential national and state level data, it strives to create data analysis and powerful graphics that are intended to bring in new supporters into the national conversation about criminal justice reform and over-criminalization. The Initiative also provides numerous datasets (for example National data, State level comparison data, and State specific data) which researchers used for reports that were published on its website. I selected the national dataset on incarceration rates in state prisons and federal prisons from 1925 – 2016. After sorting the data and moving it to a separate cvs file, I transferred it to Tableau.

In my first visualization attempt, I created two simple and separate graphs that show the incarceration rate of federal prisons and state prisons over time:!/vizhome/Book1_16023135382120/Sheet4?publish=yes

As I wanted to visualize both datasets in relation to each other to illustrate how state policies drive mass incarceration, I created two graphs and tested different visualization types. For the second graph, I used the animation feature to display the increase of incarceration over time in motion, thus calling attention to the rapid rise of incarceration, particularly during the 1980s “War on Drugs”. In order to view the animation, on the right hand corner there is the option to scroll back to the year 1925 and then by pressing play the plot points on the graph will start to move.!/vizhome/Book1_16023135382120/Sheet4?publish=yes!/vizhome/Book1_16023135382120/Sheet2?publish=yes

Thinking back to Drucker’s article “Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display” and interpretative models/approaches to data visualization, one idea for future expansion might be to create an interactive visualization that includes additional data that gives information that explain the numbers in detail. For example, the Prison Policy Initiative has published a visualization on incarceration rates by ethnicity/race and on women’s mass incarceration, which would be important criteria to add. 

Mapping the American Prison Writing Archive in NY

Link to the map: 

For my praxis assignment, I wanted to create a map that visualized data I am using for my own research, which is working with the American Prison Writing Archive (an open source database that currently hosts over 2,100 essays submitted by incarcerated people about their experiences in prison). I decided to map all the prisons in New York State in which currently incarcerated people have submitted essays to the archive. As you hover over each prison, you can see the name of the facility, the number of submitted essays, and a link that directs you to the particular section of the archive. 

This was the first time that I used a mapping software, so I decided to sign up for Learn ArcGIS. The site offers constructive lesson galleries on various capabilities to choose from which was really helpful; I could go through every step of the mapping lesson gallery beforehand and made use of it during the completion of the assignment. First, I created the cvs file of the data provided by the archive, adding columns of longitude, latitude, the link to the archive section, and then uploaded it to the map. The software displays the data so you can immediately see patterns by creating different-sized circles and a legend that tells you the circles represent the number of submitted essays. In a next step, I configured pop-ups to only display the name of the prison, the number of incarcerated people who submitted essays as well as the link to the archive as this is the information I am using for my research project. In terms of future improvements, it would be great to display the data as an interactive map that not only shows the location/the number of submitted essays but also categories of subject matters the essays address (the project team of the APW archive is currently working on categorizing its collection to improve the search options/filters).

I really enjoyed working with ArcGIS Online. This mapping assignment inspired me to continue to explore how spatial and non-spatial data can be modeled for my social justice research projects.  

History and the Archive: Archival Activism

As I do not come from the field of DH but have done archival work in the field of critical prison, these week’s readings were valuable additions to my ongoing research. For my own work, I approach the archive as an activist tool deployed to contest discrimination, utilizing archival material as a primary data source to examine social justice issues and to address gaps in official traditional archives. In this context, community archives present important venues for empowerment, social justice and activism, challenging and even transforming traditional mainstream archival principles and practices. In this blog post from, Yvonne Ng describes a number of community-centered digital archive initiatives that have emerged from the Black Lives Matter movement (for example the Preserve the Baltimore Uprising 2015 Archive Project and Documenting Ferguson), emphasizing that the projects share a “collaborative approach between traditional archives and archivists, community organizers, and concerned individuals.” Daut asserts that collaboration is an essential aspect of the multimodal approach to archiving, as demonstrated in her essay, “Haiti @ the Digital Crossroads: Archiving Black Sovereignty” in which she describes how collective work enriches her own research, but also emphasizes that “[c]ollaboration in service of access, translation, and transcription to promote international availability” is crucial to creating decolonial archives.  

Another keyword I associate with archival research is context: archival research is about context as the archive is itself constructed in a particular context. For another class, I recently read the article “Archives in Context and as Context” by archivist Kate Theimer, which I think is an interesting perspective from an archivist as she emphasizes “the need for greater communication between digital humanists and information the need for greater communication between digital humanists and information professionals, such as archivists, about the areas where our practices intersect”. As I read Daut’s essay, I also reflected on the importance of curation and about how digital archive projects “put obscure documents into specialized contexts through curation” and “provide the kind of context that we would not get from simply visiting the archive”. 

The Colored Convention Project and (activist) Digital Humanities

In “Introduction: The Digital Humanities Moment”, Professor Gold talks about the ways in which digital humanists can create an alignment with activists and organizers. In that context, he mentions the Colored Conventions Project (CCP) as an example from within the digital humanities that “exemplifies how principles of collective organizing can inform both project structure and research focus” (Gold, 2019). The CCP is an impressive digital archive highlighting early black mobilization and organizing, in particular the understudied aspect of the 19th-century reform movement that is black conventions. On its website the CCP underlines its mission as a “scholarly and community research project dedicated to bringing the seven decades-long history of nineteenth century Black organizing to digital life.” Not only is the archive intended to provide information about the movement that remained invisible in popular history that highlights black agency and black leadership, it also creates a dialogue between the past and present of black organizational activism. Many of the issues that are of topic in the primary sources speak to ongoing issues like state violence and police brutality that current movements such as Black Lives Matter are focused upon. I think this really speaks the argument made in the “Digital Black Atlantic Introduction” about “the practice of re-membering a memory, and, in doing so, actively reconstructing the realities of the past [while also] linking it vitally to the present and the future” (Baker Josephs, Risam, 15).

One major interdisciplinary accomplishment of the project is its digital and interactive exhibits section. These exhibits of scholarly research are created by professors and their undergraduate or graduate students, using primary documents of the CCP’s collection to draw attention to a specific aspect of the Colored Convention movement. For instance, the graduate student Samantha de Vera built one exhibit to highlight Black women’s contributions to these conventions, which was made possible through the CCP’s effort of digitizing and transcribing not only the minutes that explicitly mention the male delegates, but newspaper articles, proceedings and other materials that document the conventions. Here, the Colored Convention Project specifically aims to include researchers, students and the public to become a part of the scholarly conversation and to produce narratives from its archival records that have been invisible in the academic and public discourse. I think this really relates to what Lisa Spiro emphasizes in her proposed values of openness  and collaboration, and also highlights the importance of “the public role of historical scholarship” (Spiro, 2012).