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ScholarlyCommons Guide: About

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About ScholarlyCommons

ScholarlyCommons is a repository for the scholarly output of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. It promotes dissemination of their work, and preserves it in a freely-accessible, long-term archive. An effort to alleviate recent pressures to restrict access to new knowledge, ScholarlyCommons allows researchers and other interested readers anywhere in the world to learn about and keep up to date with Penn scholarship. Administered by the Penn Libraries, ScholarlyCommons contains materials chosen by participating units -- departments, schools, centers, institutes, and so forth -- at Penn. Users have access to materials in ScholarlyCommons free of charge.

ScholarlyCommons also provides links to the electronic full text of dissertations by Penn graduate students, although these dissertations are not part of the repository itself. All users have free access to the first 24 pages of these dissertations, but only members of the Penn community (or other ProQuest customers) have free access to their entire contents. Others can purchase complete dissertations from ProQuest. In general, users of ScholarlyCommons can expect that links to dissertations written since 1997 will be found here (with a few exceptions). Dissertations from 1996 and earlier may be identified using Franklin, Penn Libraries' online catalog.

Researchers with content in ScholarlyCommons may choose to have a Researcher Profile page built for themselves using SelectedWorks. In addition to links to their articles, the author's "SelectedWorks" page may also include other information about the author, such as research interests, affiliations, etc. If you are an author with material in ScholarlyCommons and would like such a page set up for yourself, please email repository at

An Institutional Repository ("IR") is a digital collection that captures and preserves a university’s intellectual output. A tangible indicator of a university’s quality and social impact, an IR demonstrates the scientific, social, and economic relevance of a university’s research activities. By making their results easily accessible, an IR increases the institution’s visibility, status, and public value.

The development of ScholarlyCommons supports several initiatives outlined in the Penn Compact. Maintaining a central repository of Penn scholarship will encourage the exchange of research across disciplines and promote increased collaboration between departments on campus--key goals of the "Integrating Knowledge" principle in the Compact. The repository will also be an effective way for Penn to put our scholarship into the hands of non-Penn researchers, both close at hand and across the globe. As President Gutmann wrote on "Engaging Locally and Globally" in the Compact, "we will share the fruits of our integrated knowledge wherever there is an opportunity for our students, faculty, and alumni to serve and to learn."

A pilot project, initiated in early 2004 with Penn’s School of Engineering & Applied Science (SEAS), featured SEAS scholarly output. It also gave the Library opportunities to explore, on a relatively small scale, development, implementation, and management of an IR. Among the goals:

  • to raise the profile and stature of Penn Engineering by making its scholarly output available online;
  • to highlight publications from SEAS departments, centers, laboratories, and institutes in a public repository;
  • to use the IR as a way of assisting anyone interested in finding out more about Penn Engineering (for instance, potential new faculty and graduate students).

Library-SEAS collaboration in the pilot project served as a starting point and model for future participation in the IR by other Penn units. Its success has drawn other campus units to participate, highlighting and disseminating scholarly accomplishments from across the University of Pennsylvania.

Subject Guide

Sarah Wipperman
(215) 746-7331
Website / Blog Page

Digital Scholarly Publishing Librarian

Kenny Whitebloom