Museum Anthropology Review: A New Era & A New Double Issue

The Scholarly Communication Department is pleased to announce a new double issue of Museum Anthropology Review (MAR) published for the first time by Indiana University Press.  MAR is an open access, research and professional practice journal promoting international and interdisciplinary communication within the fields of museum anthropology, museum-based folklore studies, and material culture studies. 

MAR homepage logo

The opening editorial details MAR’s office transition from the newly incorporated Indiana University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (IUMAA, previously Mathers Museum of World Cultures) to IU’s Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology.  There, it will be a part of the Material Culture and Heritage Studies Laboratory.  These editorial and publication transitions present exciting opportunities for the journal, including a new professional design, assured continuity, and the ability to recruit editors worldwide.  The editorial also reminds readers that MAR is actively seeking submissions for future volumes, with an emphasis on project reports and full articles. Information on preparing submissions is available on the MAR website.

In The Greater Cleveland Ethnographic Museum: The Life and Afterlife of a Public Folklore Organization, Timothy Lloyd describes the unique history and preserved archives of an organization that has been gone for almost 40 years, the Greater Cleveland Ethnographic Museum (GCEM).  The museum was brought about by the recognized importance of documenting the cultural heritage of Cleveland’s numerous nationality communities as well as local and national funding.  During its five-year existence, the museum was able to develop several documentary projects describing the immigrant experience as well as traditional music and dance.  Crucially, GCEM was able to foster a relationship early on with the Western Reserve Historical Society, a local, larger cultural institution that maintains the majority of GCEM’s documentary and administrative data today, though the museum closed in 1981.  Lloyd extends a healthy reminder that “Waiting until the eleventh hour to plan and act for sustainability, though it certainly is a standard strategy, is most often not enough” (p. 16).

Jessica Evans Jain documents her fieldwork with market henna artists across North India in her monograph-length study Mehandi in the Marketplace: Tradition, Training, and Innovation in the Henna Artistry of Contemporary Jaipur, India.  Though the application of henna has long been a culturally significant tradition for women in this region, the convenience of henna stands in marketplaces is a relatively new phenomenon.

Two male artists apply henna to a young girl in a marketplace.

Jain completes in-depth interviews with these stand workers, experiences their perspective first-hand during her apprenticeships, and analyzes their work through the lens of Albert Lord’s theory of spontaneous creation.  While the market artists often downplay their work or do not consider themselves to be artists, the author couldn’t help but notice the creativity and innovation involved as she became more familiar with the henna application process.  Though this henna application has innovated in recent years,  it is still an important cultural act and promotes a happier and more positive atmosphere in North Indian communities.

In Repair Work Ethnographies: Revisiting Breakdown, Relocating Materiality (Strebel, Bovet, and Sormani, eds), Kristin Otto reviews the book by the same title, edited by Ignaz Strebel, Alain Bovet and Philippe Sormani.  The book centralizes studies of repair as an important link between people, things, and their environment through discussing its place in conversations about networks, assemblages, and politics.  Otto regards the work relevant and applicable to a large number of fields including scholars of science and technology studies, anthropology, material culture studies, and sociology.  

In 2008, the Museum Anthropology Review became the first faculty-generated, open-access electronic journal to be supported by IU Libraries.  With MAR as part of a pilot test, the Scholarly Communication Department has since been able to offer a journal publishing platform for IU affiliates as a part of IUScholarWorks services.  The Scholarly Communication Department is excited to to continue with MAR in its expanded partnership with IU Press.  

For more information on open access journals or another IUScholarWorks service please visit the website or contact us at IUSW@indiana.edu

Applications for Course Material Fellows Accepted until December 1

According to the most recent survey data from the College Board, the average full-time, on-campus undergraduate student at a four-year school is estimated to have spent $1,240 on books and supplies during the 2019-2020 academic year. To address the rising cost of textbooks for IU students, IUPUI and IUB Libraries have created a Course Material Fellowship Program with support from the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council (WPLC). The program helps to address the issue of rising textbook costs for students at IUPUI, IUB, and IUPUC, in part by educating instructors about the benefits of Open Educational Resources (OER). OER are learning materials (tutorials, syllabi, worksheets, interactive experiences, lesson plans, and blogs) shared under an intellectual property license that enables others to reuse, revise, remix, retain, and redistribute them. In addition to OER, fellows will have the option of creating/ editing  Pressbooks with their own material and/ or using library eBooks and databases. The Program recognizes that a mix of these solutions is often required in order to move to zero cost course materials. 

One of the goals of the program is to centralize support for instructors working with the variety of affordable course material solutions available. In addition to librarians specializing in an instructor’s content area and OER, fellows will have access to experts from the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) and the UITS Digital Education Programs and Initiatives Team. 

The Fellowship Program is a result of years of work building awareness about course material affordability solutions, including a symposium to discuss the issue in 2018, CITL and library partnerships to raise awareness about OER within STEM, University Information Technology Services (UITS) providing access to the Pressbooks platform to easily organize and publish books, and, most recently, the IU system joining the Open Education Network.  

Instructors at IUB, IUPUI, and IUPUC can learn  more about eligibility, application details, and expectations of the Program by visiting the Course Material Fellowship Program website. Applicants are required to fill out a short qualtrics survey with details about their course on the Fellowship Program website in order to be considered. Applicants must be an instructor of record at IUB, IUPUI, or IUPUC.  

Selection will be based on a variety of factors such as potential student savings, enrollment rate, interest in the Fellowship Program and its benefits, and sustainability of resources. The Fellowship Program seeks a diverse group of applicants who have a passion for making educational resources more accessible. 

Please e-mail Sarah Hare (scrissin@iu.edu) with questions. 

IUSW Chalk Talks Explain Information Creation in Academia

IUScholarWorks houses course materials for numerous lectures and seminars across campus. While this content is typically created for a specific class discussion, many of these materials are continually applicable to students outside of the course they were originally created for. One collection of course materials that is particularly useful for research and information literacy instruction in all disciplines is the EDUC-L700 Course Materials collection. This collection consists of seven chalk talks related to information creation in academia, designed by Dr. Beth Samuelson and librarians Julie Marie Frye and Sarah Hare. The conversations highlighted in these videos relate directly to the work we do in the Scholarly Communication Department and provide a great introduction to the development of open access initiatives in higher education. Specifically, the fifth, sixth, and seventh chalk talks investigate the role of journals in academia and how the journal publishing environment has impacted information access over time. 

Video 5 Journals in Higher Education discusses the history of journal publishing and how higher education’s reliance on high-impact journal publishing has affected the evolution of this ecosystem. High-impact journals play a crucial role in faculty and institutional evaluation. An academic’s reputation and case for tenure improves when they publish in a top tier journal. Their university also benefits through improved institutional rankings, which leads to a stronger reputation and higher enrollments. Unfortunately, some publishers have now exploited this need in higher education.

Video 6 Inequities in the Ecosystem explains that while publishers enhance journal articles through editing, typesetting, and indexing and warrant compensation for this work, they have built a business model on scholarly works that have been submitted, reviewed, and edited at no cost to them. They have been able to then sell these works back to institutions for extremely high prices through library subscriptions. Moreover, they often restrict how authors can use their work, usually through publishing agreement terms and paywalls. This expensive content is only accessible by select institutions, creating disparities in information access even  in higher education. Additionally, this content is often impossible to obtain by community members not associated with an institution due to its price. This has created a space in which information inequity and privilege exist. 

Video 7 Transforming the Information Ecosystem highlights how, in the past two decades, institutions have reconstructed this narrative and used their power to promote inclusive access to information. Many government officials, administrators, faculty, librarians, and students are now working together to create models and incentives that both transform scholarly publishing and change the disparity dynamic to create a more equitable information ecosystem. Specifically, many institutions are embracing open scholarship practices to challenge this information inequity. At IU, we have implemented numerous open access policies and initiatives to create barrier-free information access, including:

Most recently, IUB Libraries and IUPUI Libraries, with support from the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council (WPLC), have created a Course Material Transformation Fellowship Program for instructors interested in adopting or creating affordable course materials. In addition to getting involved with any number of IU’s open access initiatives, faculty are encouraged to publish their works open access, use OA publications in their courses, and empower students to use open access materials in their assignments and research. Each of these actions will shift the unbalanced journal publishing environment mentioned in Video 5 and combat the inequalities in information access discussed in Video 6. You can find these chalk talks, along with others in the collection in IUScholarWorks. For more information about the open scholarship services available to IU affiliates, visit our website or contact us at IUSW@indiana.edu

Welcome Alexus Hunt, Project Coordinator of IU’s Course Material Transformation Fellowship

We’re excited to announce that Alexus Hunt has joined the Scholarly Communication Department as the Project Coordinator for our new Course Material Transformation Fellowship. Alexus is a first-year graduate student studying Library Science and African American and African Diaspora Studies. Alexus graduated from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) last May, where she studied English and Africana Studies. Her research interests are black feminism and politics. Her goals are to become an Africana Studies Professor and special collections librarian for black literature. Alexus is originally from McCordsville, Indiana, and her hobbies include dancing, reading, hiking, and knitting.

As Project Coordinator, Alexus will play an integral role in implementing the new Fellowship Program. She will be responsible for promoting the Program, communicating with fellows and scheduling professional development opportunities, and assessing the overall impact of the Program on the IUB and IUPUI campuses. 

Welcome, Alexus!

Open Access Week 2020

The theme of this year’s Open Access Week is “Open with Purpose: Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion”. This marks the third year where the open access community has been asked to consider equity as a central theme of scholarly research and publications. 

This year’s theme aims to encourage more actionable items from participants, despite the upheaval many academic libraries are currently facing. While the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly caused significant disruption in our daily lives and work, it has also given us a chance to examine our existing structures and workflows more critically before moving forward. Beyond examining, we now have a chance to update and upgrade our information structures to include diversity and inclusion at all levels.

In response to some of the events of this year, the Scholarly Communication team has worked to embed this year’s theme into our practice and content. IU Libraries crafted a LibGuide for Temporary Free Access to Academic Resources during COVID-19, as well as resources that are always open access. In response to the protests across the country against police brutality that occurred this summer, one of our department’s graduate students, Margaret McLaughlin, also compiled a Black Lives Matter Resources List, which includes both open access content and works available through IU Libraries.

For anyone looking to expand their knowledge of open access and learn more about trends and new ideas related to OA, check out our compiled Open Access Week Reading List. This list includes two articles written by members of our team: “A Qualitative Study on the Digital Preservation of OER” by Sarah Hare, which details why and how libraries should assist in the long-term preservation of open educational resources, and “COVID-19 Demonstrates the Value of Open Access: What Happens Next?” by Willa Tavernier, which discusses the potential future for the open access movement and ways in which this pandemic may have disrupted the monopoly of large commercial publishers. Other articles address the current effectiveness of APC funds, the infrastructure of open science, and the unfortunate trend for more quality news outlets and scientific papers to be locked behind paywalls compared to free, but often false, information. All of these works themselves are available open access!

Finally, we also have Open Access Week Zoom backgrounds designed by our incredible graduate student, Alexis Murrell. Feel free to use any and all of them to celebrate this week and beyond!

Black Lives Matter: IU Libraries Curates Resource List

With the rising awareness and discourse surrounding racial inequity in the United States, you may have noticed several resource lists curated to educate and inform the public. These include, but are not limited to, Black-authored revolutionary texts, histories of race relations in the United States, Anti-Racism toolkits, and tips for meaningful allyship. You may also have noticed that these resources often do not last long and are often modified or removed entirely. This may happen for a number of reasons, including the failure to obtain proper permissions to post and publicly disseminate the resources they used. To create a more stable collection of resources, IU Libraries’ Scholarly Communication Department has created a list of materials consisting entirely of either library licensed content for IU Bloomington affiliates or open access resources, meaning they are free and available for the public to use and disseminate. As an IUB affiliate, you can freely access all items on our Black Lives Matter resource list

Library Licensed Content

The Libraries’ collection contains many foundational Black revolutionary texts and other resources. All library licensed content (LLC) is available to  anyone with an IU Bloomington affiliation at no cost. This list contains a combination of e-resources, which can be accessed online with your CAS credentials, and print resources, which can be checked-out through the Libraries’ no-contact Paged Pickup. A few of the resources, while not normally available electronically, have been digitized through the Hathi Trust Emergency Temporary Access Service. These are marked by the Hathi Trust logo on the resources IUCAT page. To access these, click on the logo and login with your CAS credentials. Some highlights from the LLC resources are:

  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (Michelle Alexander, e-book)
    • This book examines the relationship between systematic racism and incarceration, specifically among black males, and inequity which Alexander claims needs to be treated as both a racial justice and civil rights issue.
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou, autobiography)
    • Angelou’s autobiography serves as a coming of age story which details the author’s experiences and recovery from racism and its surrounding traumas.
  • Teaching to Transgress (bell hooks, book)
    • bell hooks’ pedagogical theory suggests teaching students to “transgress” against boundaries and biarnies of race, class, sex, etc. to achieve free and democratic thinking. 
  • The Racial Contract (Charles Mills, essay)
    • This foundational essay challenges white European-centered philosophical thinking, arguing that these philosophers create a “Racial Contract” that perpetuates (either implicitly or explicitly) white supremacy and the disclosure of black voices. 
  • Algorithms of Oppression (Safiya Noble, book)
    • Noble’s book demonstrates how seemingly innocuous tools, such as Google, maintain the white control of information and perpetuate racism. 

Open Access Resources

For those without an IU affiliation, the list also contains several open access resources. Open access resources are those which can be freely accessed by the public without restrictions. All resources marked with an “OA” are open and can be accessed anywhere and by anyone. Some highlights from the OA resources are:

  • Why The Coronavirus Is Hitting Black Communities Hardest (Code Switch; podcast)
    • This podcast discusses why marginalized communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
  • A Timeline of Racial Progress in the U.S., and the Lack of It, Through the Years by Dr. Carolyn Calloway-Thomas, Chair, African American and African Diaspora Studies at IU Bloomington and Sam Hill, Newsweek contributor
    • This article features a timeline “Racial Progress in America: The Slow March Forward” which highlights the progress and setbacks in seeking racial justice in America
  • The Urgency of Intersectionality (Kimberlé Crenshaw, TED Talk)
    • This TED Talk expands on Crenshaw’s coined term “intersectionality” and the increased biases people face when their different identities (e.g., race, class, sex, sexual orientation, etc.) combine to create more severe forms of oppression.
  • Celeste Bartos Forum: Literacy, Libraries and Liberation (Angela Davis and Toni Morrison; interview with the New York Public Library)
    • A conversation between the New York Public Library, activist/scholar Angela Davis, and author Toni Morrison on racism in libraries. Both a recording and a transcript of the conversation are available. 
  • 13th (Ava DuVernay; documentary)
    • DuVernay’s documentary explores the history of racial inequity in the United States, focusing on the criminal justice system. 
  • Celebrating Black History Month (Poetry Foundation; online collection) 
    • This collection of poems from the Poetry Foundation celebrates and highlights the works of black poets, including Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, and Langston Hughs. 

This list is by no means comprehensive or finite, but it serves as a starting point for anyone to educate themselves and others about racial inequity. Please contact IUSW@indiana.edu for suggested additions to the resource list or with any questions. 

Data & Visual Literacy and the COVID-19 Infodemic

This post was contributed by Map & Spatial Data Librarian Theresa Quill.

Scholarly and scientific information is distributed in a variety of ways.  The COVID19 pandemic has spurred a large volume of scholarly literature, but also data sharing and data visualization to track the spread of this coronavirus and the impact of efforts to combat it. Some of this information is reliable and some of it is not.

Visual Literacy and Resources Librarian Jackie Fleming and Map & Spatial Data Librarian Theresa Quill were recently published in Digital Culture and Education, discussing their efforts to combat the COVID-19 infodemic.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the evolving situation surrounding COVID-19 is changing the world. This change includes the response and mission of academic libraries. Information about COVID-19 is being published every day in both textual and visual formats. One thing that all of this information has in common is that it is easily accessible to the public. As academic librarians, we believe that it is our job to guide our community to reliable information and teach them how to receive and interpret this information.

The democratization of data visualization and mapping tools over the past decade has meant that creating and sharing visualizations is no longer limited to the realm of experts. While this trend has been overall beneficial, it has also resulted in increased visibility for (mostly unintentionally) misleading or confusing maps and charts and places a greater burden of critically reading and evaluating visualizations on the reader.

The authors say –

“As the Map & Spatial Data Librarian and, Visual Literacy and Resources Librarian at Indiana University-Bloomington, we believed that it was our responsibility to address the surge of visual information being produced daily about COVID-19 cases. We decided that the best action to take was to create a Visual Literacy & Map LibGuide that specifically addressed data visualizations tracking COVID-19 cases. This guide lists reliable data visualizations to follow, tips for reading these visualizations, and general resources for spatial and visual literacy as well as, articles addressing COVID-19 data visualizations. Because COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation, we have been periodically adding information to this guide as we find it. We felt that creating this LibGuide was a good first step in developing our campus community’s visual literacy skills in the COVID-19 crisis.”

You can view the research guide here: https://guides.libraries.indiana.edu/visualliteracyandmaps

And the full article here: https://www.digitalcultureandeducation.com/reflections-on-covid19/visual-literacy-and-maps

 

COVID-19 demonstrates the value of Open Access. What happens next?

This is an excerpt from an article published in College & Research Libraries News May 2020.

In the wake of COVID-19, many publishers have tacitly agreed that open access is beneficial to scientific advancement and necessary to move science forward to combat disease. Publishers have committed to open access publication of scientific articles relating to the disease. Some are facilitating rapid and open peer review and fast-tracking the publishing of related research. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Hiltzig refers to this convincing demonstration of the value of open access to scientific research as one of the most important positive disruptions caused by COVID-19.

The World Health Organization maintains a global research hub with links to several publisher sites for access to coronavirus research, and the United States Centers for Disease Control has compiled a similar list. Elsevier (and its high profile journals like Cell, and The Lancet), Wiley, SpringerNature, The New England Journal of Medicine and scores of other publishers and publications have provided open access to COVID-19 research. Even news magazines like Wired and Medium, which usually allow readers access to a limited number of free articles without a subscription, began providing free unlimited access to stories about COVID-19 shortly after it was classified as a global pandemic. They also offered an invitation to sign up for email updates, as if our anxiety levels were not already high enough. SpingerNature is encouraging researchers to use their In Review pre-print system while articles are being peer-reviewed and to share datasets widely. Many vendors are offering free access to online learning solutions and educational resources for the remainder of the spring semester. Some researchers have chosen to bypass traditional journals altogether, putting their work on disciplinary pre-print servers.

While the absence of peer review on these platforms has the potential to widely disseminate misinformation, the robust use of pre-print servers by the scientific community has worked to rebut spurious claims, in effect crowd sourcing rapid expert peer-review. (So no, there is no evidence that COVID-19 was manufactured in a lab. ) It is also worth noting that Nature’s Outbreak Science Rapid PREview server, which was established in response to COVID-19, allows scientists with an ORCID ID to submit a review while reading pre-prints pulled in from the medRxiv, bioRxiv and arXiv repositories.

Government officials in the US, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the UK are now calling for even wider access. This would encompass the text of journal articles as well as machine-readable text to enable analysis using artificial intelligence, along with research data made available through sources like PubMed Central and the World Health Organization’s COVID database. Outside of the realm of scientific publication, the Taiwanese response to the outbreak highlights how easy, free public access to reliable information is beneficial to a robust, effective response across a complex system which requires the co-ordination of governance, institutions, individuals and their varying points and levels of interaction. Taiwanese analyst Victor (Lin) Pu argues that “the free flow of information is the best treatment for the coronavirus outbreak.”

At the time this article was written, the current outbreak was expected to subside within a few months, with health authorities using shutdowns, social distancing and quarantines in an effort to ‘flatten the curve’ of contagion.  When the pandemic subsides, where do we go next in academic publishing? Clearly, most stakeholders in this pandemic situation regard knowledge about the disease as an open access common pool resource — a public good that should be freely accessible. Does this change in the absence of a crisis? Is it then acceptable to slow the progress of science? And who has the right to make these decisions?

Read the complete article in College & Research Libraries News.

Welcome Karen Stoll Farrell, Interim Head of Scholarly Communication

The Scholarly Communication department is excited to announce that Headshot of Karen S Farrell, a white woman with straight brown hair, smiling, in a black suit jacket.Karen Stoll Farrell has agreed to serve as our Interim Head of Scholarly Communication. She will provide essential support and advocate for our department, as well as ensure services are maintained for our patrons. Karen is additionally the Librarian for South Asian and Southeast Asian Studies, and the Head of the Area Studies Department at IUB Libraries.

Karen’s current research interests include equity and inclusion in libraries, South Asian film, and web archives. Some recent publications are “Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Scholars across Asian Studies at Indiana University-Bloomington” and (with Jackie M. Dooley, Tammi Kim, and Jessica Venlet) “Developing Web Archiving Metadata Best Practices to Meet User Needs.” With Sumit Ganguly, Karen also co-edited Heading East: Security, Trade, and Environment between the U.S., India, and Southeast Asia (New Delhi: Oxford University Press).

Karen is currently serving  as a member of the South Asia Open Archives Executive Board (2020-2023), and as Digital Initiatives Chair (a committee which will direct a grant funded by the Henry Luce Foundation) for the Committee on Research Materials on Southeast Asia.

As we continue to persevere in the strange times, our department is thankful to have an advocate with excellent leadership experience and dedication to the IU Libraries. We look forward to working with Karen in the times ahead!

Securing Image Rights for your Publication

Scholarly publications often include images. From reproductions of fine art to scientific graphs, images can enhance an author’s work in many ways. Most publishers require images with a resolution of at least 300 ppi, so using clear, high quality images is imperative. However, there are many copyright and intellectual property concerns when using images, and the process of obtaining permission can be complicated and can require a large amount of time and occasionally money from the author. The following blog post provides a walk-through, as well as tips and resources, for obtaining image permissions. We suggest following a four-step procedure to facilitate the process of securing image use permission: 

  1. Identifying permission needs
  2. Identity the rights owner
  3. Identify the rights needed
  4. Contact the owner and negotiate if necessary

As copyright and terms of reuse can vary greatly per image, the permissions attainment process begins with identifying your permission needs.

Identifying Permission Needs

Not all images require written permission for use. An image can be freely used if it is in the public domain, has a Creative Commons (CC) license, or qualifies for fair use. In general, all works first published in the United States before 1925 are part of the public domain. Cornell University’s Public Domain Chart provides a clear and thorough resource for determining if  an image first published in the United States is in the public domain. A list of other countries’ copyright durations is available from Wikipedia. Keep in mind that even if a work is public domain, an image of that work is not necessarily in the public domain. For example, while the works of Shakespeare are in the public domain, a museum’s image of a particular folio may have different rights. Be sure to confirm that your image, and not just the original work, are in the public domain. 

One way to do this is to check for the Public Domain Mark:

The letter "C" inside a circle with a slash-through (Public Domain Mark)

The Creative Commons public domain designation enables them to donate their work to the public domain. If the image you wish to use is marked with a Creative Commons license, you do not need to ask permission to use it in your publication. 

There are also many different types of CC licenses, so be sure to determine the use parameters of your specific CC-licensed image. These include Attribution (BY), ShareAlike (SA), NoDerivs (ND), NonCommercial (NC), and various combinations thereof. The Creative Commons’s webpage provides information about each CC license to clarify and differentiate between the various CC licenses. 

Use of an image for purposes of criticism, commentary, research, or teaching might also qualify as a fair use, an overview and definition of which can be found on the U.S. Copyright Office’s Fair Use Index webpage, is a fact-dependent limitation on the exclusive rights of copyright owners. For additional guidance on whether your use of an image is a potential fair use, refer to the IU Libraries guide on fair use, or contact the Head of the Libraries’ Copyright Program, Naz Pantaloni (nazapant@indiana.edu)

Asking for Permission

The first step in asking for permission is to identify the rights owner. Keep in mind that the creator and the rights owner are not necessarily the same. Sometimes the rights owner will be clearly marked. For example, if the image’s metadata reads “Copyright 2020, Indiana University Press”, then you would contact Indiana University Press to request permission. Others are more difficult, and require some research to determine the rights owner. Tips for researching the rights owner include: looking for contact information, checking for a watermark, checking the image’s metadata, and doing a Google reverse image search. Resources like the the US Copyright office, which provides a database where you can search the copyright of a particular image, can help identity the rights owner. 

After the rights owner is identified, you must determine the rights you need. Be sure to consider medium, duration, language, and territory. Your publisher may have required rights for image use, so be sure to confirm with them before contacting the rights owner. Once you have identified the rights owner, you can contact the rights owner and formally request permission to use the image. While each situation will differ, Oxford Journals’ template permission request letter and Georgetown University’s sample permission request letter provide possible examples of how to structure a request letter. Be prepared for patience after contacting the rights owner; many publishers can take between 4-6 weeks to respond, if at all. Also be prepared for fees, as rights owners may ask you to pay to use the images; you can, however, try to negotiate fees with the rights owner. 

Be sure to have a back-up plan, as even if you have followed all of the steps, the rights owner may either not respond or deny your request. The following section provides resources for finding open images, as well as suggested best practices to follow during the permissions process. 

Conclusion and tips/resources

While securing image use permissions can be complicated, there are several ways to help the process go more smoothly. The first is to focus on finding open images, thus nullifying the need to obtain permission. Wikimedia Commons hosts a repository of free-use images and Georgetown University provides a helpful list of places to find open images. If you do have to ask permission, be sure to plan ahead and keep clear and thorough documentation of all correspondences. It is best to ask for non-exclusive, worldwide rights for the lifetime of the image in both print and electronic formats. This assures that you will not have to re-obtain permissions for any reprints, translations, etc. of your publication. Also be sure to keep all original citation information for each image, to expedite your captioning. While the permissions process will look different for each author, these guidelines facilitate the process. They can also serve as a useful resource for journal managers and editors to provide to authors. 

Additional information on using images is available in this guide to using images from the IU LIbraries Copyright Program. For further questions or concerns regarding using images in scholarly publication, please contact Copyright Program,  Naz Pantaloni, at nazapant@indiana.edu.