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VCU Scholars Compass grows in size and stature: 8,700 items and 400,000 downloads

June 10, 2016

VCU Libraries launched a digital publishing platform, VCU Scholars Compass, in summer 2014. In the past two years, thousands of scholarly articles, presentations, research findings and data produced at Virginia Commonwealth University have been made available to the general public.

VCU Scholars Compass serves as VCU's repository for the intellectual output of the university's faculty, researchers, students and staff.  "This is a foundational, strategically important investment for this university and this library system," said University Librarian John Ulmschneider. "We absolutely have to build this in order to make sure that this maturing research university has the research library infrastructure to support it."

More than 8,700 papers and other scholarly materials have been uploaded to Scholars Compass, and have been downloaded nearly 400,000 times. "We have a commitment to keeping these things for the long term – not just five years, but 50 years, 100 years," Ulmschneider said. "That's what we do. We are going to keep everything that our scholars publish for a long, long time so that scholars in the future can have access to them. That's part of our tradition."

Content on VCU Scholars Compass includes:

  • VCU Theses and Dissertations: All theses and dissertations produced by VCU students since 2009 are housed in Scholars Compass. In addition, VCU Libraries is working with alumni to digitize their older papers.
  • Journal of Social Theory in Art Education: The Journal of Social Theory in Art Education is the official journal of the Caucus of Social Theory in Art Education, an issues group of the National Art Education Association. The entire run of the journal from 1980 to the present is available. The editorial board includes several faculty from the VCU Department of Art Education. In addition to presenting the articles, Scholars Compass also includes a publishing toolkit for managing submissions and peer review.
  • Biology and Medicine through Mathematics Conference: The inaugural event was held in Richmond with the help of faculty from VCU Department of Mathematics. VCU Scholars Compass contains the conference schedule and refereed abstracts for each session. The Division of Community Engagement also has leveraged the platform to share resources including conference proceedings from the Community Engagement Institute (co-sponsored by VCU C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research).
  • MCV/Q, Medical College of Virginia Quarterly: In collaboration with University Archives, Scholars Compass offers MCV/Q journal, volumes 1 (1965) - 16 (1980). Designed primarily for the postgraduate education of physicians, MCV/Q published articles of original research and reviews in basic and clinical sciences.  Another important collection from University Archives is VCU Course Bulletins.
  • Undergraduate Research Posters: More than 200 posters presented during VCU Research Week’s annual Undergraduate Poster Symposium organized by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program provide inspiration.  This collection highlights the wide-ranging intellectual curiosity of VCU students with topics spanning Disney princesses, health care, songbirds, medicine and Netflix.  Other student work, such as the School of Engineering Capstone Design Expo Posters, has been added to VCU Scholars Compass. All student work requires a faculty or departmental sponsor.

Sam Byrd, the digital collections systems librarian who is implementing VCU Scholars Compass, said "This is a place where people can be made aware of all the great research and scholarship that's coming out of VCU, and to have it all in one place." Byrd said he hopes to see scholars across VCU continue to embrace the platform. "I would like to see cross representation of every school if not every department at VCU," he said. "I would like to see [scholars] take advantage of the fact that it's not just papers that they can post, it's also presentations from conferences that they've given, working papers, data they've got. The more of that we can get, the better."

Want to know more about VCU Scholars Compass? Contact Sam Byrd, (804) 827-3556,

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