Brock University graduate students are expanding their global reach as the University becomes one of the first institutions in Canada to include Major Research Papers (MRPs) in their library’s digital repository.
In 2007, the James A. Gibson Library created an online repository that would feature all content created at Brock. The creation of the repository allowed the Library to join the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, and made Brock content available worldwide.
At the beginning, all theses but not MRPs written by graduate students were included in the repository. A thesis and MRP are similar in nature but have a few differentiating factors — both involve scholarly research undertaken by a graduate student under the supervision of faculty members (two in the case of an MRP and three for a thesis). Generally, the scope of a thesis is broader than that of an MRP and typically takes longer to complete. As well, the thesis includes an oral defense.
Over the past 10 years, MRP students have shown interest in sharing their research via the repository, and now, thanks to a partnership between the Library and the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the repository is open to all graduate students’ research.
Jocelyn Baker recently completed an MRP in the Master of Sustainability Science program, and was among the first students to submit her work to the repository.
Baker, under the supervision of Liette Vasseur, Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, studied the sustainability of Canadian Ramsar sites, named for the city in Iran where a global treaty for Wetland Conservation was signed in 1971. By developing a set of indicators, Baker was able to examine how various governance structures could best support the maintenance of the sites. As Ramsar sites are found worldwide, Baker’s work could be relevant to people across the globe.
“Through my research, it was determined that having updated management plans greatly contributes to the sustainability of the Ramsar sites,” said Baker. “Change to the site is inevitable — climate change, invasive species, changing water regimes — these are all things that can’t be controlled. But the sites that have relevant management plans have maintained more of the components that led to their designation in the first place.”
Tim Ribaric, Acting Head Map Data and GIS Library and Digital Scholarship Lab, was instrumental in opening the repository to MRP students.
“This is very exciting news for Brock graduate students,” he said. “Not only do our MRP students now have the option to have their work available through a University sanctioned platform, but the platform also shows where in the world your work has been accessed. This allows our students to understand the reach of their research and see the global impact it has.”
Baker’s work has already been recognized by Environment Canada, and will be used to inform future management plans. She is excited to see where in the world her work is viewed.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to publish my work in the Brock repository,” she said. “Throughout my time as a student at Brock, I often used it to look at research paper examples to help guide and inform my own paper structure and content. As I met and worked with other Brock researchers, I was also able to find and read their work. I hope all Brock MRP students take advantage of this unique tool that isn’t available at all universities.”
Interim Dean of Graduate Studies, Diane Dupont, was pleased to see this project come to fruition.
“Brock understands the importance of mobilizing knowledge and making the research of our students accessible to the Niagara community and beyond,” Dupont said. “It is important that people are able to access the work being done by all graduate students.”
Students interested in submitting their work are encouraged to visit the Brock Library’s Digital Repository.