Frequently Asked Questions


What is DigitalCommons@ The Texas Medical Center?

DigitalCommons@ TMC is designed to store, index, and make accessible the digital materials of the institutions of the Texas Medical Center. Content, which is deposited directly by TMC faculty, researchers, and staff, may include published research, teaching materials, learning objects, theses and dissertations, student projects, conference papers, or other intellectual property in digital form. The content is then made available through a searchable web interface. DigitalCommons@ TMC uses the bepress Digital Commons platform.

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What is an institutional repository?

"A university-based institutional repository is a set of services that a university offers to the members of its community for the management and dissemination of digital materials created by the institution and its community members. It is most essentially an organizational commitment to the stewardship of these digital materials, including long-term preservation where appropriate, as well as organization and access or distribution." Lynch, Clifford A. "Institutional Repositories: Essential Infrastructure for Scholarship in the Digital Age" ARL, no. 226 (February 2003): 1-7.

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What is "open access"?

When we say that DigitalCommons@ TMC is an "open access" repository, we mean that the items included can be viewed by anyone, without requiring users to pay to view them or to have passwords to access them. Some materials may be restricted to Texas Medical Center users, however, depending on the copyright status of the item.

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Are there other institutional repositories?

Yes. Many institutions and universities have implemented institutional repositories using a variety of software systems and organizational schemes. A list of those using the bepress DigitalCommons platform is available at http://digitalcommons.bepress.com/institutions.html. OAIster provides a searchable list of repositories from around the world.

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Why did the HAM-TMC Library decide to create DigitalCommons@ The Texas Medical Center?

DigitalCommons@ TMC was created to collect and disseminate scholarly material created at the Texas Medical Center. It is envisioned as a means to provide an additional access point for already published materials and to disseminate unpublished information such as learning objects and teaching materials.

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What are the advantages for a scholar who includes his/her work in DigitalCommons@ The Texas Medical Center?

Allowing your scholarly materials to be stored and distributed via DigitalCommons@ TMC will provide greater dissemination of your research than traditional journals or personal websites can. DigitalCommons@ TMC provides your work with a persistent web link that will remain constant and allow anyone worldwide access over the Internet. DigitalCommons@ TMC is also ideal for archiving and publishing multimedia formats that are not suitable for traditional publication methods. DigitalCommons@ TMC, while holding a non-exclusive license to allow your work to be accessed, allows you to retain copyright to your own intellectual property.

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Who can deposit materials into DigitalCommons@ The Texas Medical Center?

Any person or group within the Texas Medical Center can submit content as long they are part of an established community in DigitalCommons@ TMC. Materials created cooperatively with co-authors who are not affiliated with a Texas Medical Center institution are also accepted if at least one of the authors is affiliated with the TMC and the submitter owns the copyright to the material.

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How can I add my scholarly content to DigitalCommons@ The Texas Medical Center?

The scholarly content in DigitalCommons@ TMC is sponsored by a "community" that is responsible for creating the content guidelines for their section of the repository. A community can be comprised of an academic unit, department, research center or any other group of TMC-affiliated scholars. Once a community is established, the community members set up the workflow and support the submission processes in conjunction with HAM-TMC Library staff.

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What are the rights and responsibilities of DigitalCommons@ The Texas Medical Center communities and submitters?

The members of each DigitalCommons@ TMC community will be responsible for establishing the policies and procedures that will guide their use of the repository for storing and disseminating their scholarly output. DigitalCommons@ TMC communities will also be responsible for maintaining their collections and deciding who will perform the work involved.

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What types of material formats are accepted?

DigitalCommons@ TMC can accept a wide variety of formats, including Microsoft Word and Powerpoint files, but can only guarantee to preserve certain formats. All data is made available as a PDF.

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Can I remove items once they have been posted in DigitalCommons@ The Texas Medical Center?

Under normal circumstances, no. Because DigitalCommons@ TMC is an archive, its primary goal is to preserve its contents indefinitely. DigitalCommons@ TMC will allow contributors to amend a previous admission with revisions, but will not remove the original item. DigitalCommons@ TMC is not meant for ephemeral materials and items likely to be revised.

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Can I deposit materials that I created before I became affiliated with an institution in the Texas Medical Center? What happens to my materials in DigitalCommons@ The Texas Medical Center?

You may submit items to DigitalCommons@ TMC that you created before you became affiliated with the TMC if you hold the copyright to the item. The work deposited in DigitalCommons@ TMC will be maintained permanently.

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Do I need special software to upload materials?

The only tool necessary for contributing materials is a web browser.

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Why do I need to attach "metadata" to the items I submit to DigitalCommons@ The Texas Medical Center?

The metadata attached to each of the submissions to DigitalCommons@ TMC is similar to the information in a library's catalog record for a book. It is descriptive information about an item that allows it to be found via keyword searching (e.g.title of an item, author, subjects, etc.) Having descriptive metadata attached to an item allows it to be more easily accessed using search engines and metadata harvesters.

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What are the advantages DigitalCommons@ The Texas Medical Center provides researchers?

Researchers are allowed access to the scholarly work in DigitalCommons@ TMC without being required to pay for access. Faculty and researchers have a stable URL for their scholarly output and can refer to that URL rather than providing reprints or emailing documents. People around the world can access materials deposited in DigitalCommons@ TMC using Google and other search engines, making research more "findable".

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Who can view materials located in DigitalCommons@ The Texas Medical Center?

DigitalCommons@ TMC is an open archive and its contents are therefore accessible free of charge to anyone on the World Wide Web. The goal of DigitalCommons@ TMC is to allow any person with an Internet connection and web browser to view its contents.

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How do I search for and access scholarly works deposited in DigitalCommons@ The Texas Medical Center?

DigitalCommons@ TMC allows users to search for items or browse through collections of materials. DigitalCommons@ TMC includes a search feature that allows users to look for items by author, title, or other types of keywords. Items in DigitalCommons@ TMC are also indexed by Google and other search engines.

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Who is responsible for managing DigitalCommons@ The Texas Medical Center?

Administrative decisions regarding DigitalCommons@ TMC are currently made by the HAM-TMC Library working in conjunction with the individual institutions of the Texas Medical Center. A DigitalCommons@ TMC Steering Committee will eventually be created to guide the continuing development of this important TMC resource. For more information, email .

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I don't have electronic versions of old working papers that I'd like to include in the repository. Is it okay to scan the printed page to a PDF file?

Yes--scanning printed pages is a great way to create PDF files for inclusion in the repository. There are two ways to scan a page: using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) or scanning the page as an image. Making OCR scans requires careful proofreading and loses the original formatting of the documents. Image scans cannot be searched. The best solution takes advantage of both of these methods. Many software applications allow for the OCR capture of image scans. When documents are scanned this way, users see the image scan but search the full-text of the document. This is the preferred method for scanning documents for the repository.

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When I copy and paste abstracts into the Submit form, some text is missing, quotes look odd, or strange characters appear in the abstract. What's going on?

When copying abstracts from a word processing file or a PDF file, and pasting the text into the submission form, you are taking text from an environment that may support fonts and special characters (like symbols or "smart quotes"). Because the abstract is intended to be presented on the web, the format of the abstract needs to be reduced to plain text with no fonts or special characters. We recommend the following changes to keep your titles and abstracts legible on the web:

  • Change "smart" single and double quotes to straight quotes.
  • Change an ellipsis to three periods (...)
  • Change em- and en-dashes to hypens.

If you would like to use bold and italic in your abstracts, you may do so using the corresponding HTML codes. If submitting an abstract in HTML format, please be sure to select the corresponding option on the submission form.

The following HTML tags are recognized by the system and may be used to format an abstract (use lowercase tags):

How to include HTML tags

HTML tags
<p> - paragraph
<p>This is the first paragraph.</p>
<p>This is the second paragraph.</p>

This is the first paragraph.

This is the second paragraph.

<br /> - line break
<p>This is a line of text with a linebreak here. <br /> This is text after</p>

This is a line of text with a linebreak here.
This is text after

<strong> - strong/bold
<strong>bold text</strong>

bold text

<em> - italics/emphasis
<em>italicized text</em>

italicized text

<sub> - subscript
Text with <sub>subscript</sub>

Text with subscript

<sup> - superscript
Text with <sup>superscript</sup>

Text with superscript

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How do I include accents and special characters in the abstracts and titles?

The repository software supports the ISO 8859-1 character set (this includes the numbers 0-9, upper- and lower-case letters A-Z, and standard English punctuation). Although you may take advantage of the complete character set, we recommend you consider not using special characters as these may inhibit user searches, both on the web and on the site.

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How do I revise a submission?

To revise a submission:

  1. From the My Account page click Submission Management.
  2. In the list of pending submissions, click the title of the article you want to change. (If you are revising a published submission, click on the Published Submissions link in the top left and select the title of the article from the resulting list.)
  3. Click Revise Submission from the list in the top left.
  4. Enter your changes in the Revise Submission form, and click Submit at the bottom of the page to submit your changes. (You only need to modify the portion of the form that corresponds to the changes you wish to make.)
  5. If you are revising a pending submission, you may continue with the publication steps if appropriate. If you are revising a publised submission, be sure to click the option to Update the site to incorporate your changes to the web pages.

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How can I submit a multi-part file, such as multiple chapters for a book?

Combine all the sections together as one Microsoft Word file or PDF file and submit that.

To make one PDF file from multiple files, open the first PDF file, then choose Document>Insert Pages from Acrobat's menus to insert the second file (indicate it should go after the last page of the first file), and repeat for all documents. The result will be one compound PDF file which may then be submitted.

If you feel that the one large PDF file might be too large for some people to download, we suggest that you submit the consolidated file as the full text of the article, and then upload the separate chapters or sections of the document as Associated Files. These files will appear on the web page alongside the complete document. For more information about uploading associated files, see below.

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Can I post related files (sound clips, data sets, etc.) alongside the published article?

Yes. The bepress system refers to these supplementary items as Associated Files. You will be prompted to submit Associated Files when you upload your submissions. The name of the files you upload will appear on the web site along with your short description of it. Viewers must have the necessary software to open your files; that is not provided by the bepress system.

Please be sure that there are no permissions issues related to use of the associated material. Sometimes, especially with images, you must write a letter seeking permission to use the material before it can be posted.

Also note that where possible, items such as images, charts and tables that are referenced in the document (or otherwise an integral part of the document) should be included directly in the article itself and not posted just as associated files.

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Can I post a reprint from a journal?

It depends on what the journal allows, which is usually specified in their agreement with the author. If it would not violate copyright to post the reprint on your repository site, you're welcome to do so. Permissions for many publishers can be found at SHERPA RoMEO.

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A working paper in our repository site has been published in a slightly revised form in a journal. What should I do?

Many journals do not have any restrictions on working papers that preceded an article, especially if substantial revisions were made. The faculty member should check his/her author agreement with the journal to confirm that there is no problem with leaving the working paper on the site. The repository would constitute noncommercial use.

It is a good idea to include the citation to the published article on the cover page for the repository working paper. To add the citation:

  1. From your My Account page, click Submission Management.
  2. Choose the option at the top of the screen to view the Posted Submissions.
  3. Locate the paper in the list at the bottom of the screen, and click the title.
  4. Click Revise Submission, scroll to the bottom of the revision form to the Comments section, and enter your comment there. Click the button at the bottom of the page to submit the revision.
  5. Click the Update link to update the article so that the new comment is visible to readers.
  6. If you need to remove the full text from the site, click the Remove Submission link in the sidebar, and click the confirmation button to remove the submission and notify the author.

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