Research Projects and Innovation

The UC Davis Library is committed to advancing knowledge and solving problems related to the future of scholarly communication, information science and library operations. We conduct an active research program — both internally and in partnership with faculty and other organizations — including projects on technology infrastructure, data and metadata, policy and practice.

Dates: 2018
Funder: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Senior Personnel:
  • MacKenzie Smith, University Librarian, UC Davis Library
  • Michael Wolfe, Scholarly Communications Officer, UC Davis Library


Building on the Pay It Forward project, the UC Davis Library, with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, invited applications to participate in a “Move-It-Forward” workshop focused on exploring and vetting publisher models for transitioning existing scholarly journals to open access. Following a competitive review process, representatives from publishers of scholarly journals attended a one-and-a-half day workshop and discussion on June 21–22, 2018 in Oakland, California.

Workshop participants provided brief presentations on past, present, and theorized approaches, and the worked together to identify the most promising and transformative methods, as well as their roadblocks and prerequisites. Three particular ideas were examined in-depth: cooperative publishing models, where libraries “subscribe” to open access titles; diversifying publisher revenue streams; and “read and publish” or “offsetting” agreements, where subscribing institutions pay for making their authors’ titles open access.

View the Final Report

Dates: 2013-2016.
Funder: Institute of Museum and Library Services
Senior Personnel:
  • MacKenzie Smith, University Librarian, UC Davis Library (PI)
  • Carl Stahmer, Director, Data and Digital Scholarship, UC Davis Library
  • Xaioli Li, Head, Cataloging Support Services, UC Davis Library
  • Gail Yokote, Associate University Librarian, Collection Services, UC Davis Library
Partners & Consultants: Zepheira


BIBFLOW is a two-year project of the UC Davis Library, funded by IMLS. Its official title is “Reinventing Cataloging: Models for the Future of Library Operations” and it is investigating the future of library technical services, i.e., cataloging and related workflows, in light of modern technology infrastructure such as the Web and new data models and formats such as Resource Description and Access (RDA) and BIBFRAME, the new encoding and exchange format in development by the Library of Congress. Our hypothesis is that, while these new standards and technologies are sorely needed to help the library community leverage the benefits and efficiencies that the Web has afforded other industries, we cannot adopt them in an environment constrained by complex workflows and interdependencies on a large ecosystem of data, software and service providers that are change resistant and motivated to continue with the current library standards (e.g. Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (or AACR) and MARC. Research is required on how research libraries should adapt our practices, workflows, software systems and partnerships to support our evolution to new standards and technologies.

BIBFLOW is a research agenda and set of activities to advance our community’s understanding of the resource description landscape – the current and desired future state – and begin to develop a roadmap that the library community can reference for planning investments and changes over the coming years. The area of greatest focus for the project will be the academic library technical services processes, including acquisitions, licensing, cataloging, processing, digitizing, and so on. But we will also look at the impact of the new standards and technologies on related operations that rely on the same library data, such as circulation, interlibrary loan, and public catalogs. In fact, it is this interdependency across library functions that is the root of our difficulty with changing any part of our local environment for fear of damaging others; the many benefits achieved by consolidation on a single data format and software system (i.e., an Integrated Library System) has become a constraint on our flexibility in rapidly changing times, often requiring years of planning to replace a key software system or convert huge amounts of legacy data, and because technical services are the data engine that drives most other library functions and operations, so understanding its future will allow us to be more strategic about investments and planning for all of our activities.

As part of this research, we will be collaborating and communicating with partners across the library data ecosystem – key organizations like the Library of Congress and OCLC, library vendors, standards organizations like NISO, software tool vendors and commercial data providers, and other libraries that are trying to plan for change, such as the BIBFRAME “early experimenters“. While the project will not convene meetings or conferences that bring these partners together, we will leverage existing projects to do so (e.g. by NISO), coordinate with stakeholders virtually, and do extensive outreach to get feedback from the community on what we are learning. Through this combination of research, collaboration, and outreach, our project will create a roadmap for the community, and particularly academic research libraries, and is designed in such a way that, as the new data models, standards, workflows and practices emerge and evolve the roadmap can be continuously updated with new roads and milestones.


Dates: 2016
Funder Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Senior Personnel
  • MacKenzie Smith, University Librarian, UC Davis Library (PI)
  • William Garrity, Deputy University Librarian and Chief of Staff, UC Davis Library (Co-PI)
Partners & Consultants Athenaeum21


The Library Assessment Dashboard is a six-month planning project to conduct preliminary research, scope, and develop a proposal for the creation of a “research library assessment executive dashboard/toolkit.” A dashboard is defined as “a single-screen display of the most important information people need to do a job, presented in a way that allows them to monitor what’s going on in an instant.” The goal of this dashboard is to present library leadership with the most important data needed to make decisions about their services. The scoping project involves research, interviews, and group conference calls to align the most important library management questions with available and relevant library data sources, in order to prioritize initial modules for the dashboard.

Ultimately, the resulting dashboard/toolkit will facilitate evidence-based decision-making and management of library services, resources, and assets, using existing library and institutional data sources. The scoping project is led by MacKenzie Smith, University Librarian, and William Garrity, Deputy University Librarian, at University of California, Davis, and has engaged an external consultancy, Athenaeum21. The planning project will result in a detailed and fully-costed bid that will involve inter-institutional collaboration among the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, the Göttingen State and University Library in Germany, and the UC Davis Library.

Dates: 2015-2017
Senior Personnel:
  • Louise Kellogg, PI, CIG, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, UC Davis
  • Joe Dumit, Science and Technology Studies, Anthropology, UC Davis
  • Lorraine Hwang, CIG, UC Davis
  • MacKenzie Smith, UC Davis Library
  • Alison Fish, Indiana University
  • Laura Soito, University of New Mexico


The Software Attribution for Geoscience Applications (SAGA) project brings together an interdisciplinary team from the Social, Library, and Computer Sciences to illuminate the technological and cultural barriers to effective software citation. We seek to develop a usable software tool for citation of open source software that completely describes the software environment and attribution for contributions from multiple authors.

Go to SAGA

Dates: 2014-2016
Funder: UC Davis Interdisciplinary Frontiers in the Humanities and Arts (IFHA)
Senior Personnel:
  • Mario Biagioli (UC Davis School of Law, Science and Technology Studies)
  • MacKenzie Smith (UC Davis Library)
  • Jonathan Eisen (UC Davis Genome Center)


Powerful changes are affecting traditional systems of research publication, academic credit, research quality assessment, and the meaning of “publication”: the increasing scale and interdisciplinary nature of collaborations; the growing reliance on cyberinfrastructure for producing and disseminating research; the impact of Open Access models and economic dysfunction on traditional publishing; the transformation of data from evidence for research results to research output itself; new metrics of impact; new forms of misconduct and detection; doubts about peer review as quality guarantor; the impact of intellectual property on the content and timing of publications.

The “Innovation in Scholarly Communication” (ICIS) project will analyze these changes and help shape the future of scholarly communication. The ICIS project is a collaboration between Mario Biagioli (UC Davis School of Law), MacKenzie Smith (UC Davis University Librarian) and Jonathan Eisen (UC Davis Genome Center). In collaboration with colleagues from many departments across campus, we will focus on three sets of issues emblematic of these changes:

  1. “New Models of Scholarly Communication”
  2. “New Misconduct and New Opportunities”
  3. “Communicating with Data”

The scholarly communication system affects scholars and scientists across all fields and levels. It also frames the policies of administrators evaluating and funding them, and of libraries confronting new forms of scholarly communication based on new technologies of discourse delivery. These trends are profoundly changing the role of the university, and we want to lead their direction.

This project is funded by the UC Davis Interdisciplinary Frontiers in the Humanities and the Arts (IFHA) Program.

Go to ICIS

Dates: 2015-2016
Funder: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Senior Personnel:
  • MacKenzie Smith, University Librarian, UC Davis Library (PI)
  • Allison Fish, Indiana University
  • Thomson Reuters
  • Elsevier
Partners & Consultants:
  • California Digital Library
  • University of California Libraries
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Greg Tananbaum, ScholarNext
  • David Solomon, Michigan State University & Bo-Christer Bjork, Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland
  • Mark McCabe, Boston University
  • Harvard University Library
  • Ohio State University Libraries
  • University of British Columbia Library
  • Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers


The University of California, under the leadership of UC Davis and the California Digital Library (CDL) and with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is undertaking a major project called “Pay It Forward: Investigating a Sustainable Model of Open Access Article Processing Charges for Large North American Research Institutions”. The project will be conducted during 2015 and early 2016, and includes partnerships with three major research libraries (Harvard University, Ohio State University and the University of British Columbia) as well as the ten University of California campus libraries. We are also working with experts in Scholarly Communications: Greg Tananbaum (Consultant, ScholarNext), Professor David Solomon (Michigan State University), Professor Bo-Christer Björk (Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland), and Professor Mark McCabe (University of Michigan and Boston University). We are additionally joined by Dr. Carol Tenopir, University of Tennessee, Knoxville for an in-depth qualitative analysis of authors’ attitudes towards Open Access. Finally, we are collaborating with Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers to engage their member publishers, and the the information companies Thomson Reuters (Web of Science) and Elsevier (Scopus) for their bibliographic database coverage of authorship patterns across the academic disciplines.

In 2014, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the UC Davis Library and the California Digital Library collaborated to develop a major project proposal to investigate the institutional costs of converting scholarly communications, particularly scholarly journals, to an entirely Article Processing Charge (APC) business model, often referred to as “Gold Open Access”. In the APC model, researchers pay-to-publish in advance and readers can access published articles for free from the publishers’ web site or other scholarly repository. Researchers at the University of California author a huge proportion of the scholarly literature and are strong supporters of Open Access, e.g., the UC faculty Senate’s 2013 Open Access policy but the implications of converting the cost of scholarly communications to an “author pays” (or more probably an “institution pays”) model have huge implications for large research institutions that generate a disproportionate amount of the literature. Finding the right financial model to pay for scholarly communication while making it more accessible requires significantly more evaluation before it becomes the new default.

Go to Pay It Forward

Dates: 2015-2016
Funder: NIH
Senior Personnel:
  • Carl Stahmer, Director, Digital Scholarship, UC Davis Library
  • Beth Callahan, Head, Research Support Services, UC Davis Library
  • Peter Brantley, Director, Online Strategy, UC Davis Library
  • Xiaoli Li, Head, Content Support Services, UC Davis Library


A collaboration between the research team associated with the parent grant and the UC Davis Libraries team to collect multi-level, multi-disciplinary longitudinal data over a period of 5 years. The scientific goal of the parent grant is to evaluate how individuals develop their social roles in the context of their social networks and how this social development is linked to their biological and psychological development and health outcomes. The practical goal, subserved by the proposed supplemental activities, is to ensure the integrity of our “big” data and ease the process by which it is shared both amongst our multi-disciplinary team members and with the broader scientific community. The library’s team will work with the research team to evaluate current work flows and documentation protocols, determine features that are necessary and desired (versus unnecessary and undesired) in the new database system, learn what sorts of queries and analyses are ultimately conducted on the data, etc. Based on these collaborative evaluations, they will then oversee the implementation of the information system by their staff including, a “Data Design Specialist” and two programmers—a “Data Implementation Specialist” and a “Data Migration Specialist”. Programming staff is drawn from the library’s Information Educational Technology (IET) department, from the University’s Information Technology Services unit, and from a campus approved list of external vendors, all of whom have longstanding relationships with the library and other university departments. Fee-for-service costs associated with the staff people are included in the proposed budget. Costs of consultations with the senior members of the libraries team is provided by UC Davis. The ultimate goal is to accomplish three specific aims focused on the development of infrastructure, workflow, and documentation.

Dates: 2016-2017
Funder: NEH
Senior Personnel:
  • Carl Stahmer, Director, Digital Scholarship, UC Davis Library
  • Patricia Fumerton, Professor of English, UC Santa Barbara


In July of 2016, the University of California, Santa Barbara in collaboration with the UC Davis Library’s Digital Scholarship program will launch an important 6th stage of its digital English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA), which will incorporate rare collections of printed ballads at the Beinecke Library, Yale University; the Society of Antiquaries, London (SAL); Manchester Central Library (MCL); and Chetham’s Library, Manchester. The project will involve not only the addition of new ballads to the archive but also the application of advanced data mining and visualization to the full text archive as well as enhancement of the archive interface. The UC Davis team will develop a “Research Portal” interface to the archive that will allow users to configure and run various forms of corpus analysis such as topic clustering and modeling, Key Word in Context (KWiC) mining, named entity extraction, network analysis, and topic modeling. The portal will also include tools for creating dynamic visualizations based on mining results. In addition to the above text analysis tools, the UC Davis team will also be developing and implementing various sound analysis tools for application to the archive’s nearly 10,000 recordings of sung early modern ballads.

Go to EBBA

Dates: 2014-2016
Funder: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Senior Personnel:
  • Carl Stahmer, Director, Digital Scholarship, UC Davis Library
  • Brian Geiger, Director, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, UC Riverside
  • Kristian Jensen, Head of Collections and Curation, the British Library


In 2014 the University of California, Davis, the University of California, Riverside, and the British Library began a three year effort to re-imagine and rebuild the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) as a linked data native, 21st century research tool: The ESTC21. The “go to” resource for early modern scholars across disciplines, the ESTC provides a union catalogue of over one million records representing 480,000 unique items, copies of which are held by nearly 3,000 libraries around the world. The ESTC21 represents a quantum shift in library catalogue technology and functionality. The new catalogue software, which is being developed by a team at UC Davis, utilizes a native linked data catalogue. Individual records are represented and exchanged as RDF-XML and indexed as triples that serve as the data store for application. The front end interface is also being altered to function as a community curated catalogue, wherein end users can suggest changes and editions, using an extensive ontology that pushes beyond the descriptive capabilities of MARC. All suggested changes enter a review queue where they go through a process of community and librarian peer review before becoming part of the catalogue record. This new system invites the user community to be part of the catalogue curation process rather than acting simply as information consumers. The ESTC21 will represent a new kind of library catalogue both at its data core and in terms of its functionality.

Go to ESTC

Dates: 2016
Funder: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Senior Personnel: Peter Brantley, Director, Online Strategy, UC Davis Library

Go to Books in Browsers