ScholarSphere Springs Forward

Judging by the recurring snow fall and the lingering cold in various parts of the country, it may not feel quite like spring yet, but we on the ScholarSphere service team have a spring in our step! We’re pleased to announce the newest release of ScholarSphere – version 1.4. This version adds two new features as well as improvements to the user interface.

First, the features

Look who’s full-text indexing! That’s right. ScholarSphere functionality now includes full-text indexing and searching, a standard feature in most repository software applications. Because this feature enables keyword searching on more than the metadata that users input to describe their files, it expands the possibilities for rich content discovery.

A note about access for the files searched . . . The visibility levels of files (whether open access, Penn State, or private) that result from the search depend on permissions for visibility and whether a Penn State user is logged in or not. If not logged in, and users do a search, the results will be public files; neither private files, nor files only for the Penn State community, will be among the results. If logged in as a Penn State user, the results will include public files as well as files visible to the Penn State community. If logged in as a Penn State user with private files, then you, the logged-in user, will see your relevant private files in the results list.

Are you LinkedIn? From its launch ScholarSphere has integrated widgets for social networking services, such as Twitter and Facebook, and equally social citation management tools, such as Zotero and Mendeley, for easy, outward sharing of one’s research. ScholarSphere now includes a widget for LinkedIn, the popular professional networking tool.

The profile page each user receives upon logging into ScholarSphere also shows the most prominent networking sites, now including LinkedIn.

To link out to your page in these social networking services, just click on the “Edit your profile” button on the upper right-hand corner of the profile page and enter your handles for the ones you belong to. For example, for my LinkedIn account, I entered “/in/patriciah.”

Next, the user experience

Cleaner layout for the user profile page. The user profile page makes more efficient use of space by incorporating a tabbed interface to represent aspects of a user – namely, her highlighted files, profile (user information), and activity.

Functional, felicitous facets. ScholarSphere has always had a “Browse By” list of facets on the left-hand side of the site. At the end of each shortened facet list is a link taking users to the complete list of whatever facet is being accessed, be it “resource type,” “creator,” “keyword,” etc. This link opens up a dialogue box, now with an improved user interface, displaying the complete list, allowing users to sort numerically (in descending order) or alphabetically.

Features under active development

This spring is a busy one for the ScholarSphere development team. They’ll be working on integration of collections functionality, deposit by proxy, and a hook to the Dropbox service (to enable deposit of larger files). These features, which currently are the most in demand by our users, will position the service well for increasing adoption by campus entities, such as colleges and departments interested in showcasing the best of their students’ work, or grant-funded research projects wishing to disseminate their outputs in the form of presentations, preprints, data sets, and project reports. 

Also, a heads up: we will be doing another round of usability testing and thus recruiting for test users to give us feedback on the new features and functionalities in ScholarSphere. Recruitment emails to the Penn State community should go out sometime in April.

Last but not least, stay tuned to the Content Stewardship Council blog to learn more about our partnerships with other institutions on developing ScholarSphere, and how version 1.4 of ScholarSphere has been a concerted community effort.

Lots of possibilities abound! We’ve only touched the surface of what ScholarSphere can, and will, achieve.