September 2023

Scholars Portal Newsletter

In This Issue:

Confused by an acronym? Check out the OCUL Acronym Glossary. If there’s something we’re missing, you can email to suggest an addition!


What’s New at Scholars Portal?

  • Join us in welcoming Gabby Crowley as our new Client Services Librarian!
  • In other staffing news, Kate Davis was appointed Scholars Portal Director effective July 1, 2023, for a five-year term. Congratulations, Kate!   
  • The new Odesi site will officially launch on October 4, 2023. A beta version of the new search interface was released in June for testing and feedback. A usability assessment was conducted and results were presented to the Odesi migration development team for final adjustments before the launch. We hosted a webinar about the new Odesi on September 21, and new training materials have been prepared. For more information about the upcoming Odesi re-launch, see our blog post and draft version of the new Odesi User Guide
  • In June, RACER turned 20. We continue to make progress towards sunsetting this veteran service in spring 2024. More information about the sunsetting process, including materials from our popular monthly drop-in calls, can be found in the RACER SPOTDocs space (login required). Our next drop-in is on September 28th. 
  • Join us on October 18th at 11am for the Scholars Portal Fall Update Webinar. This one-hour webinar will discuss what’s new and what’s upcoming with Scholars Portal services, including an update on Project RAMP, a check-in on the RACER sunsetting progress, and the introduction of a new feature to facilitate alt format requests. Register now! 
  • We have a Mastodon account. Due to the unpredictable nature of the platform formerly known as Twitter, including the removal of some technical functionalities we used quite frequently, we have updated the live news feeds on our sites to our Mastodon feed. 

New Content

New on Scholars Portal Journals:

  • Two new collections are available for activation in Alma: Scholars Portal Journals: Emerald Management 150 and Scholars Portal Journals: De Gruyter Complete. Both of these are extended collections that include titles beyond the standard OCUL deal. If you are unsure whether to activate these collections, please contact us at  
  • We’ve added 172,000 missing PDFs for IEEE journals. If you notice any missing content, please report it!

New on Scholars Portal Books:

  • Canadian University Presses: We continue to receive Canadian University Press (ACUP) content from English language presses and load on schedule, although we do not currently have MARCs for these titles. Titles from French-language presses are temporarily on hold due to metadata issues. We expect all metadata and MARC issues to be resolved shortly, once ACUP completes the migration to De Gruyter. 
  • Eastern Door-Kahnawake Community News: In partnership with the University of Toronto Libraries and the publishers, we are happy to share that we now have more than 10 years of The Eastern Door newspaper available in digital format on Scholars Portal Books. The Eastern Door is a community-based paper that has been serving the Kahnawake Mohawk community since 1992. The newspaper will be preserved for the long term as part of the SP Books TDR process. The Eastern Door is currently only available to University of Toronto users, but the publisher is interested in working with other schools. Please reach out directly to, or to if you have general questions.  

New geospatial datasets in Scholars GeoPortal:

  • DMTI 2021 CanMap Content Suite Collection: The CanMap Content Suite from DMTI contains over 100 unique and rich content layers. Each layer has a unique file and layer name with associated definitions, descriptions, attribution and metadata.The collection includes coast-to-coast GIS data from Streetfiles, RouteLogistics, and Postal Code Suite, plus: Topographic information including water, rail, parks, land use and enhanced points of interest; Utility infrastructure; Police and fire stations; Provincial and municipal boundaries; Street network and routing attribution (speed limits, turn restrictions, etc).

New surveys in Odesi:

  • Households and the Environment Survey, 2021: The Households and the Environment Survey (HES) measures the environmental practices and behaviours of Canadian households that relate to the condition of our air, water and soils. The survey is designed to collect data to develop and improve three key environmental indicators: air quality, water quality and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Canadian COVID-19 Antibody and Health Survey, Cycle 2 (2022): The first part Canadian COVID-19 Antibody and Health Survey was an electronic questionnaire about general health and exposure to COVID-19. The second part is an at-home finger-prick blood test, which is sent to a lab to determine the presence of COVID-19 antibodies. This data is used to estimate how many Canadians test positive for antibodies against COVID-19. By using each participant’s DBS samples combined with their survey responses, we can determine how many Canadians have antibodies against COVID-19 due to infection, vaccination or both. This important information will help evaluate the extent of the health status associated with the COVID-19 pandemic such as the prevalence of infection even for people who have never had symptoms, among a representative sample of Canadians. 
  • General Social Survey – Social Identity, Cycle 35 (2020): The General Social Survey (GSS) on Social Identity interviewed individuals 15 years and over in Canada’s ten provinces to collect data on social identity, social engagement, and social networks.


Spotlight: Odesi MarkIt! Program: A Collaborative Curation Model for Data 

The spotlight is an opportunity for members of the OCUL community to share how Scholars Portal services fit into their work. This edition’s spotlight was contributed by Alexandra Cooper (Queen’s University) and Vivek Jadon (McMaster University), participants in the MarkIt! Program.

Started in 2010, the OCUL Odesi MarkIt! Program provides funding support to participating OCUL schools to hire students to curate and ‘markup’ datasets for deposit in Odesi. ‘Markup’ is a term used by the Markit! group to refer to the act of creating metadata for data files, including describing datasets, variables, questions, and files contained within the Odesi repository. The participating schools are responsible for hiring, training, and supervising students to work throughout the school year to support Odesi’s data loading and quality control. Students create metadata using the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) standard and follow Odesi’s Best Practices which were developed by Markit! collaborating institutions. At least one bilingual student is hired each year for marking up French datasets. 

OCUL schools collaborate on markup using a shared Odesi Markup Tracking List which is hosted in a Google Sheet for collaboration. Datasets are tracked as new data or updated versions, or as quality control, in an effort to fix errors or cleanup metadata to meet best practices. Odesi’s collections include surveys and aggregate data from the Statistics Canada Data Liberation Initiative (DLI), and Canadian Public Opinion Polls (POP) which have been archived with OCUL institutions through pre-established agreements between the data producers and institutions, including Wilfrid Laurier University (IPSOS), Carleton University (Gallup, CRIC), and Queen’s University (Canadian Opinion Research Archive). These POP collections are curated and maintained by institutions through the support of the Markit! Program. 

 Every other month, the MarkIt! Supervisors and Scholars Portal meet to discuss ongoing work and projects. While the MarkIt! Program does not formally report to the OCUL Ontario Data Community (ODC), updates are regularly provided to the community and new project ideas and feedback often come from the ODC. This coordination with ODC ensures community feedback and involvement, especially when considering any changes or additions to Odesi. 

Student and library staff training is an essential part of the MarkIt! Program. Most students hired have little to no experience in marking up or curating datasets, and over the years, a number of training materials have been developed by both supervisors and returning students that are used in training to this day. With the re-launch and new Odesi site coming October 4, 2023, updated training materials, including a new User Guide, Deposit Guide, Metadata Best Practices, and videos are being created to reflect the changing interface and curation tools.  

Data curation is a multi-faceted, multi-step, ongoing, and iterative process. In the MarkIt! Program we follow a well-documented curation process (see image below) that includes reviewing datasets and their documentation, creating metadata to fully describe the dataset down to the variable level, and reviewing and maintaining revisions and updates as released. Moving Odesi to Borealis will allow this work to continue but also improve it through the use of Borealis and the Data Curation Tool, which offers better versioning control, Persistent Identifiers (DOIs), and new features to support curatorial review. 

Data Curation Lifecycle diagram

Researchers want to work with and use high-quality, curated data in their research. As a result of the Odesi MarkIt! Program, Canadian survey data are being made findable and reusable, enabling rich variable level searching, exploration, analysis, and download. Markit! contributes to the ongoing commitment of libraries to ensure long term stewardship and preservation of Canadian research data. A non-exhaustive list of published research articles that have cited Odesi data can be found in the Scholars Portal Journals search.  


Alexandra Cooper is the Data Services Coordinator at Queen’s University Library and Vivek Jadon is the Data Specialist at McMaster University. This article is based on a presentation with the same title given at Scholars Portal Days 2023.

You can learn more about Odesi on the Odesi SpotDocs blog. The new site will launch October 4, 2023.


The Nitty-Gritty

New and improved features:

  • Project RAMP: We are now in the Development phase of the project, which primarily involves testing for the new platform and performing content review and clean up to prepare for the migration. Our test site will be available to a test group from OCUL schools soon.
  • The ACE token API was opened up for external use so that libraries can use it for their own alternative format request forms. McMaster and Wilfrid Laurier are currently using it to allow disabled users with ACE tokens to make requests directly in Primo. We’ll be demonstrating this functionality and talking more about the project at the Fall Update Webinar.
  • OJS and OMP have been upgraded to LTS.

Bug fixes:

  • We fixed a bug linking from Primo to very short articles on our Journals platform. In the case of very short articles, such as book reviews, letters to the editor, or presentation abstracts in a supplementary issue of conference proceedings, sometimes users were directed to a different article beginning on the same page as the article they were looking for. This has been resolved by adding the article DOI as a parameter in OpenURL linking from Primo. 
  • The Permafrost team identified and resolved three related issues that were preventing users from downloading large archival packages and their METS files through the Archivematica dashboard. 

Many thanks to all those who reported bugs to us or assisted in testing! If you spot any problems, please report them via our built-in feedback forms or to


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Next edition: January 2024

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