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About ScholarSphere

ScholarSphere is Penn State’s institutional repository - a repository service for research and scholarly work produced by the university community. Through ScholarSphere, Penn State researchers - faculty, students, and staff alike - are able to share their work on a worldwide scale and be assured of its long-term preservation and thus ongoing access.

As the institutional repository for Penn State, ScholarSphere provides the following:

  • A self-deposit service for faculty, students, and staff to make their scholarship openly accessible.

  • Flexible access and visibility controls for the content you deposit.
  • Assistance in complying with data management planning and data sharing requirements.

  • A service for researchers to deposit their datasets and link to them from their published articles, as often required by journal publishers.

  • A way for students to distribute the best of their work, including capstone projects, and build their online scholarly presence and reputation.

The University Faculty Senate at Penn State passed an open access resolution in April 2015. Faculty are encouraged to share their research outputs via ScholarSphere - for articles, deposit the pre-published versions (original manuscripts), or the post-published versions (i.e., peer-reviewed and final version of the article before being sent to the journal for publication - will usually not be formatted to look like the published version).

The SHERPA-RoMEO site delineates between pre-prints and post-prints - see:

Here's what ScholarSphere can do for your research:

  • Raise its visibility and discoverability via major search engines, such as Google.
  • Give persistent access to your work (so that links to it do not fail).

  • Preserve it for the long term, safely and securely.

ScholarSphere collects the following types of content:

For more details about what is permitted to deposit and what is not permitted (e.g., sensitive data), please review our Content Policy below.

To deposit your work, go to our upload page.

  • If you are not already logged in, you'll be prompted to do so, in order to start the upload.
  • To learn about the upload process and how to build collections in ScholarSphere, view our demo videos on the Help page.

Questions? Please submit them via our Contact Form, and a member of the service team will respond.

The Story of ScholarSphere

ScholarSphere is a service that was collaboratively developed by two units at Penn State: The University Libraries and Information Technology Services (ITS).  The partnership of these two units brought together the strengths of a large IT organization with those of a large knowledge management organization in order to offer centrally supported services around digital stewardship. This was driven both by anticipated federal funding agency requirements for data management planning, and by researchers looking for better support for e-research and e-science initiatives. The product of this partnership is an easy to use repository service that enables the Penn State community to share its research and scholarly work with a worldwide audience.  Faculty, students, and staff can use ScholarSphere to collect their work in one location and create a durable and citable record of their papers, presentations, publications, data sets, or other scholarly creations.

Since the launch of the service in 2012, the team behind ScholarSphere has worked continuously to evolve the service to meet the varied and emerging needs of the Penn State community.  A focus on exemplary user experience has been at the forefront of the team's efforts.  As a new service, user recommendations and critical feedback are extremely important to the development of new features and functionality.  The team has conducted, and will continue to conduct, usability tests and focus groups to inform their work, and feedback from users is always welcome in person (Publishing and Curation Services), via phone (814-865-2486) or via our Contact us form. 

More on ScholarSphere service development and community engagement:

More on the technology powering ScholarSphere:

Learn about how researchers are using ScholarSphere:


Content Policy

Deposit Policy 

Preservation Support Policy


Visibility (Access Levels) and Sharing

Content Policy

>> What is permitted in ScholarSphere: content primarily of scholarly import, including curricular materials and creative works produced in support of Penn State's teaching, learning, and research mission. Such content may include but is not limited to the following:

  • Original manuscripts of accepted publications (pre-peer-reviewed versions) and final pre-publication drafts (post-peer-reviewed versions)
  • Data sets
  • Working papers
  • Technical reports
  • Conference papers and presentations
  • Student work (e.g., master's theses, capstone projects - the best of your student work)
  • Research materials in audio/visual formats (what may be deposited will depend on file size)

ScholarSphere makes no restrictions on the state of the research submitted, as long the depositing author deems the item in a complete enough state to share and distribute.

>> What is NOT permitted in ScholarSphere: content that is not scholarly and content that is sensitive, such as the following: 

Research involving the use of human subjects must be approved by Penn State's Institutional Review Board (IRB), and proper consent must be obtained from participants in order to share their information.

If any sensitive or non-scholarly content is found in ScholarSphere, the files will immediately be made private; the depositors will be notified; and the content will likely be withdrawn from the system.

If you are unsure whether your data is considered sensitive, please consult Penn State policy ADG71 or contact the ScholarSphere service team via the Contact Form. In addition, ScholarSphere will not accept content if it is in violation of copyright agreements. In the event that such violations are found, ScholarSphere reserves the right to withdraw the submitted content. See our Deposit Agreement for clarification.

ScholarSphere welcomes deposits from the Penn State community - faculty, students (undergraduates and graduates), postdoctoral researchers, administrators, and staff. Deposit of Penn State co-authored materials is also encouraged, provided the co-author has secured any requisite copyright permissions for deposit in ScholarSphere.

Deposit Policy

Depositing your work in ScholarSphere means the following:

  • The deposit represents your own work (and that of your co-authors, if this is jointly created work)
  • Your work does not contain any confidential or proprietary information, or personally identifiable information that would compromise someone's privacy)
  • You (and any co-authors) retain copyright to the work and the right to use all or part in future works

Deposit of content to ScholarSphere grants Penn State University non-exclusive rights for preserving that content and, if you choose, disseminating that content (see our "Preservation Policy" below). To increase the reach, impact, sharing, and preservation of the research, Penn State and ScholarSphere allow content that has been deposited in other repository services to be deposited as well in ScholarSphere, assuming the depositor has not signed an exclusive licensing agreement with another entity. The deposited materials may be freely deposited and distributed elsewhere, in venues such as disciplinary data repositories, electronic journals, pre-print archives, conference proceedings, or course/learning management systems. Please consult our Deposit Agreement for clarification. 

As part of the deposit process, the depositor will be prompted to describe the file (content) that has been uploaded. This process includes selecting a Creative Commons license that describes what the depositor permits others to do with the uploaded content. The default license level (i.e., the license level that automatically appears in the "Rights" field) is Attribution-Non-Commercial-No-Derivs 3.0, or CC-BY-NC-ND. With this license you share your work with others and allow them to download it, provided they attribute you as the creator; they must also refrain from changing the content in any way and from using it for commercial means. HOWEVER, you may select a different license in the drop-down menu. For further guidance, please consult the Help page, where we address Creative Commons in the FAQ.

Preservation Support Policy

Penn State Libraries and Information Technology Services are committed to providing long-term access to all material submitted to ScholarSphere. Initial preservation services have been informed by international standards and best practices. In addition to providing basic services like secure storage and redundancy, ScholarSphere has been designed to preserve all content in the form it is deposited.

All work submitted to ScholarSphere will be preserved at a basic bit-level. File characteristics (such as format, mime type, date created) will be captured and stored as metadata during the deposit process to mitigate potential format obsolescence. All files deposited will receive a SHA-1 (Secure Hash Algorithm) checksum, which is used to document file integrity over time. Regular file integrity checks will be run to check for changes (such as file corruption), and can even be scheduled on-demand.

Beyond this initial level of preservation, the ScholarSphere team is planning for additional preservation services, including file migration and normalization. Details of new services will be announced as they are released.

Certain file formats (such as openly-documented, non-proprietary, lossless) are more easily preserved than others. To better assist contributors, ScholarSphere will in the future provide guidance related to file formats and documentary types.

Visibility (Access Levels) and Sharing

The depositor sets permissions during the upload process. Access permissions give the depositor of content the ability to control who can find, see, edit and download their content. You have the option of setting both "Visibility" (who can see an item) and "Share With" (who can edit.)

Visibility This setting will determine who can view your file, and the associated metadata in ScholarSphere. The default setting for visibility of your content is Open Access. The Open Access setting will allow your content to be discovered in Google and accessed by anyone. The visibility setting, Penn State, will allow only users who are logged into ScholarSphere (via WebAccess) to view the content. The third visibility setting is Private. Files that are marked Private are able to be viewed only by users and/or groups that have been given specific access in the "Share With" section. 
Permissions in ScholarSphere are hierarchical. This means that you cannot set the visibility of a file to Open Access or Penn State and simultaneously try to restrict access to a single user. However, you may mark the visibility of a file as Private and then grant access to particular users and/or groups for that file in the "Share With" section.

Share With You may grant "View/Download" or "Edit" access for specific users and/or groups to files. Enter a valid Penn State Access Account Id, one at a time, select the access level for that user and click Add. The list of groups in the drop-down marked "Select a group" is a list of User Managed Groups managed by Penn State's ITS department. You may select a specific group and assign an access level for a file within ScholarSphere - similar to adding user access levels. However, management of these groups and their membership is handled centrally at

Permission Definitions

  • View/Download: This file (both contents and metadata) is accessible from within ScholarSphere.
  • Edit: This file (both contents and metadata) can be edited. You may only grant this permission to Penn State users and/or groups.