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This guide will help you to become more familiar with Penn's institutional repository, ScholarlyCommons, and the various services provided by the ScholarlyCommons team.

Appropriate Submissions

Each participating unit will determine content appropriate for inclusion in its part of ScholarlyCommons (for instance, journal articles, pre-prints, post-prints, conference papers, presentations, technical reports, working papers, lecture series, senior design papers, simulations, programs, and so forth). ScholarlyCommons staff will not vet submissions or make judgements on the appropriateness of a submissions outside of determining that the collection falls within the scope of ScholarlyCommons.  Because of our commitment to open access, bibliographic citations or abstracts alone, without the full paper to which they refer, will not be posted unless there is an extremely compelling reason to do so, as determined during the consultation process.

While content need not be authored by Penn faculty, staff, or students for inclusion, the collection must be supported by a person or entity with some Penn affiliation. Examples might be a paper from a conference sponsored by a participating unit which included both Penn-affiliated and other authors; a report collaboratively produced by Penn-affiliated and other authors; an open access journal taking international submissions that has a Penn editor; or other materials that a sponsoring Penn unit decides is appropriate for its part of ScholarlyCommons. Participating units can work with Library staff to define policies appropriate for their areas.

Supported Format Types

ScholarlyCommons recommends the use of particular file types in order to increase the likelihood of safely migrating these files into the future.

Most papers in ScholarlyCommons are in PDF. Word and RTF files are typically converted to PDF when they are imported into the repository. For more information on preparing PDF versions of papers, see our file format and conversion guide below this section.

For supplementary materials and non-paper collections, we recommend the following formats as most likely to be migratable:

  • Images: JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIFF

  • Audio: AIFF, MP3, "unprotected" (DRM-free) AAC

  • Video: MPEG

    • Streaming Video: ScholarlyCommons encourages archiving of video or other audio-visual materials which can be stored in ScholarlyCommons and linked to other sources such as YouTube. We cannot, however, do live streaming of video content from our servers.  For units which have lecture series or other scholarly presentations in video or audio format, we encourage you to contact us.

  • Data: XML, Comma-separated values

Other formats may be included for supplementary materials, but are less likely to be migrated when technology changes. Submissions may be in a different format, but we recommend that the files be additionally made available in one of the above formats.

When technology inevitably migrates to new formats in the future, we will change the format of a file, but not the information in it. For example, the repository managers will not update hyperlinks, other external references, or out-of-date information within a paper or supplementary file.

Removing Content

ScholarlyCommons is a permanent scholarly repository. Once a paper is deposited, at least a citation to the paper will remain permanently accessible. Under special circumstances, authors may request that ScholarlyCommons remove a paper or a specific version of a paper. ScholarlyCommons staff will work with the author to make changes (such as embargoing or restricting access to) the record instead of taking it down completely. If a take down is inevitable, we will honor the author’s request provided that it does not conflict with university or departmental policies (such as a program requirement).

Authors may also provide an updated version for posting, but updates do not necessarily need to replace originally-posted papers. Posting updated versions alongside original versions is one way that ScholarlyCommons can allow authors to show the progress of their research, which in some fields can have pedagogical or intellectual value.

Copyright Considerations

Unit Agreements

Participating units agree to disseminate information about procedures and policies for ScholarlyCommons — including author responsibilities regarding copyright—as set forth by the Library and communicated through written documents, correspondence, and training sessions. Units will additionally agree to work with ScholarlyCommons staff to determine appropriate approval workflows to ensure that submitted materials are compliant with any publisher restrictions and/or requirements and that authors of new works are aware of their copyrights in relation to ScholarlyCommons (see subsequent section for more information). Although ScholarlyCommons staff will help units navigate copyright and publication matters, the units are ultimately responsible for all content they post. ScholarlyCommons may additionally require units to sign a memorandum of understanding or other agreement with ScholarlyCommons as a prerequisite to their participation.

Author Agreements and Copyright

Unless otherwise noted, documents posted on ScholarlyCommons are the property of their respective authors. Authors who deposit material  agree to the following:

  • I hold the copyright to this document, or have been authorized by the copyright holder(s) to upload it for distribution, and agree to permit this document to be posted in [Name of ScholarlyCommons Collection], and made available to the public in any format in perpetuity.

  • I warrant that the posting of the work does not infringe any copyright, nor violate any proprietary rights, nor contain any libelous matter, nor invade the privacy of any person or third party, nor otherwise violate Repository policies.

All permission requests should be directed to the individual authors or the stated holders of copyright. Outside of original Library-created materials, the University of Pennsylvania Libraries claim no proprietary rights over the content of ScholarlyCommons other than those necessary for general platform requirements and functionality, such as allowing the materials to be stored, shared, redistributed, and migrated as needed.

Author Responsibilities

Repository contributors are responsible for adhering to the copyright policies of the University of Pennsylvania, which include adherence to federal copyright law. In general, we will assume good faith on the part of repository contributors, educate our contributors on their rights and responsibilities with respect to copyright, and act quickly to remedy copyright problems if they come up. The ScholarlyCommons staff does not and will not provide legal advice to participating authors or units.

In order to prevent problems with allegations of copyright infringement involving ScholarlyCommons, we will:

  • Educate our users about the requirements of copyright law, copyright consideration for materials previously or subsequently posted in scholarly journals and other forums, and fair use.

  • Make it clear that submissions to ScholarlyCommons should comply with Penn's policies on copyright and applicable copyright laws.

  • Require submitters to ScholarlyCommons to warrant that their submissions do not infringe copyright. (This is part of the submission process.)

  • Encourage the use of Creative Commons licenses where appropriate for previously unpublished materials for which authors own copyright.

For more information, please see Penn's policy on acceptable use of computing resources.

The federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) places certain legal requirements on database providers when there is a question of copyright infringement. At Penn, questions involving copyright and the DMCA are coordinated by Penn’s Information Systems & Computing (ISC) department.

In the event that an interested party makes specific allegations of copyright infringement regarding material posted in ScholarlyCommons, with sufficient information to be substantially in compliance with the DMCA notification requirements (which are given on the ISC page mentioned above), we will:

  • Forward such correspondence to remind authors and unit administrators of their rights and responsibilities concerning copyright and scholarly expression.
    • Penn's designated DMCA copyright agent (currently
    • the administrative contact for the unit under which the allegedly infringing material was posted, and
    • the authors of the allegedly infringing material

Upon the request of Penn's copyright agent, the unit administrator, or the authors, we will:

  • Disable access to the full text of the allegedly infringing item.
  • Retain the item record and metadata (with a note that the full text is not available at present). At our discretion we may choose to publicize the correspondence alleging infringement.
  • Ensure that the authors and unit administrators are notified of their counter-notification rights under the DMCA.
  • Restore access to the full text if such counter-notification is given.

In the event that we discover that specific material in ScholarlyCommons is posted in infringement of copyright, but we have not received actual notice from an interested party as described above, we will:

  • Report our discovery, and the reasons for our judgment that the item is infringing, to remind authors and unit administrators of their rights and responsibilities concerning copyright and scholarly expression.
    • the administrative contact for the unit under which the allegedly infringing material was posted, and
    • the authors of the allegedly infringing material
  • Request a warrant confirming that the material is not infringing.
  • If we do not receive one in a reasonable time period, at our discretion disable access to the full text as described above.

Generally, discovery of infringement should involve positive evidence of infringement. We should not presume that authors have not obtained special permission to use copyrighted material in their submissions. Nor should we presume that academic research publication violates anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA.

In any of the events described above, we will retain all correspondence related to the alleged or apparent infringements.

A note on publisher posting policies: ScholarlyCommons staff makes all efforts to investigate publisher policies to ensure compliance and/or to contact publishers as needed for permission prior to posting materials on ScholarlyCommons. Any materials posted in ScholarlyCommons reflect the publisher policies at the time of posting and will not reflect any subsequent changes to policies.

Access and Migration

The Library will provide persistent access to ScholarlyCommons content but cannot guarantee the persistent functionality of technological tools through which content is currently posted, maintained, and accessed. At its own discretion, depending on changes in the technological environment in which researchers, users, and the Library all function, tools may be replaced. The Library expects to preserve the content of ScholarlyCommons by migrating it to new technological platforms when and if the obsolescence of current technologies make it necessary to do so.

Privacy Considerations

ScholarlyCommons asks that any submissions to the system not contain any sensitive author information, such as social security numbers, personal addresses or phone numbers, grade information (in the case of class work or ETDs), or other information that could potentially compromise the author’s privacy. This responsibility is that of the author or participating unit, not ScholarlyCommons staff or the Penn Libraries.

ScholarlyCommons does allow author emails (if given at the time of submission) to be posted on submission cover pages. This gives readers the opportunity to contact the author with questions and authors the ability to receive statistics on their works. Email addresses are typically not a requirement for submission, and their appearance can be suppressed at the series level (at the participating unit’s request). ScholarlyCommons will honor any requests by authors for their emails to be removed or changed. It is the responsibility of the author to contact the repository to request removals or changes. We strongly suggest that any emails used be work or school-related accounts and not personal addresses.

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Image courtesy Niklas Wikström via CC BY-NC 2.0 license.


Submit to ScholarlyCommons

Make your works discoverable through ScholarlyCommons, Penn's openly accessible institutional repository. Submit materials yourself, or set up a consultation to discuss your digital project. 

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