Digital Commons Provides Opportunities for UWM Faculty

text with UWM Digital Commons and image with cover of A Small Box in the Heart

Philosophy Senior Lecturer Matthew Knachel wanted to offer his students a free textbook. Comparative Literature Associate Professor Caroline Seymour-Jorn needed a way to digitally enrich a novel she was teaching.

Both UWM faculty found an open access solution utilizing the UWM Digital Commons (UWMDC), the open access repository for UWM faculty, staff, and student research and creative works.

Knachel was committed to saving his Informal Logic students money with an open access text, but unable to find an existing one, he decided to create his own.

He is writing the open access textbook this semester and is releasing the chapters incrementally to his students in UWMDC. He plans to make his work, Fundamentals of Logic, available for adoption by other faculty under a Creative Commons License.

Seymour-Jorn had translated Egyptian author Ibithal Salem’s A Small Box in the Heart previously and wished to contextualize an updated version. UWMDC presented her with the opportunity to illuminate the popular culture references central to the narrator’s experiences living in Cairo in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Included in the digital version are her personal photos and links to YouTube videos of popular songs the narrator hums throughout the narrative relatable for her Comparative Literature students.

Seymour-Jorn also hopes that her open access text will be adopted in other literature courses in addition to those she teaches at UWM.

These are just two of the success stories in the open access publishing program at UWM and in the larger open access movement in higher education.

There are many other benefits and opportunities with UWMDC:

·        All open access books, articles, masters’ theses and doctoral dissertations published in the Digital Commons (currently 3,284) are indexed in Google Scholar and Search@UW.

·        Authors receive monthly readership reports that detail the number of times their manuscript has been downloaded worldwide.

·        Many journals offer open access publishing options, but ask authors to pay a fee. The UWM Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund pays 50% of authors’ fees for articles published in open access journals and 30% of fees for articles published in hybrid open access journals.

·        UWM Libraries staff are available to assist faculty in identifying potential open access journals.

·        The UWM Libraries and CETL invite faculty interested in adopting open textbooks in Fall 2017 to contact Kristin Woodward ( for a consultation. Modest stipends are available to support open textbook adoption.

·        Libraries and CETL staff are available to consult on best practices for adopting open educational resources and incorporating them in course design. Additional funding is available for first-year large enrollment courses that wish to adopt an open textbook for all sections of a course. UWM students are saving money on textbooks–in Psychology 101 students saved $207,910 in Fall 2016.

Matthew Knachel and Caroline Seymour-Jorn will present a brown bag talk on their open access books this Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 12 p.m. in the UWM Digital Humanities Lab, second floor east wing, UWM Golda Meir Library, 2311 E. Hartford Ave.

–Steve Burnham