Here's how OpenScholar streamlines site management for IT teams:

General FAQs

Is the entire platform open source? Why can’t I just download, install it and manage it on my own/why do we need to pay you?

The OpenScholar software is open source and available on GitHub. People and schools are welcome to install and manage their own version of OpenScholar.

Saying this, one of the reasons OpenScholar lifted out of Harvard to become its own company is because schools struggle to do this on their own. Schools need a small team of people to manage this open source software. OpenScholar (the company) provides the software itself plus cloud hosting, system administration and security. We also provide theming, online documentation, video tutorials and help desk support for our clients.

You talk about this platform tying to broad strategic goals at the university level: how does it tie to enrollment? How does it tie to alumni engagement? How does it help us in those areas?

OpenScholar ties to a university’s strategic goals in a number of ways.

We improve the public facing look and the overall navigability of a schools’ websites making them look professional. Today's applicants are digital natives who find and research universities online first. If they can't find the department or specialty they are seeking within a couple of clicks, they give up and move on. Streamlining the ability to find information is a critical part of what we do. This ties to enrollment by making your online message heard, with clarity. This same holds true for alumni engagement.

We can elevate the work/research/publications of faculty online through the citation engine built into OpenScholar’s platform drives visibility for your faculty’s work. Citations correlate positively with tenure. Citations drive opportunities to co-author with peers and they attract grant funding that subsidizes future research.

How long does it take to put up a site? Walk me through how a faculty or staff member would get an OpenScholar website.

The website creation process is streamlined so you can create the type of website you desire. Working with your school’s IT department, we can create an automated website creation portal or new website requests can funnel through the help desk or web team at your school.

Time building a website can vary based on the amount of content that a faculty member or department has or wants to add to their site.

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Feature Set FAQs

What do you mean by tagging? By faceted search? Can you show me/give me an example of how this is used?

“Tagging” allows a site administrator to associate a piece of content with a specific term. The term is then leveraged in a way to allow a website visitor to find the type of content they might be looking for or a way for the administrator to better organize their content. In OpenScholar we call this system,i taxonomy.

A faceted taxonomy is the ability to filter even further into the content created. For example, if all Publications were tagged with the country related to the topic of the publication, you can also allow for site visitors to search within the country for a County and then inside the county they could search for a town, etc. This allows the site visitor two more specifically find the content they're looking for.

What specific features are you referring to when you call it a scholar-centric or research-centric offering?

A great example of a few scholar-centric features would be:

  • The Publications app - once you add a publication to an OpenScholar website the publication can automatically be pushed to different repositories. Additionally, you can set bibliographic format styles display styles and use custom publications widgets to display certain types of content related to Publications.

  • The Classes app - helps faculty display and organize the classes that they have or do teach.

  • The Software app that allows individuals to promote the software they have developed, etc.

Do you link to ORCID? Which scholar repositories do you link to?

Currently we link to Google Scholar and RePEc. Anytime you add a publication to your OpenScholar site, Google Scholar and/or RePEc gets notified depending on your site and school install setting preferences.

We are currently working on an integration with ORCID and it will be released shortly.

We allow content from online repositories & softwares like PubMed, MARC, Endnote to be imported into OpenScholar websites. Additionally, OS websites can be configured to allow users to export citations right from the website.

How does the citation tracking feature work? What makes it so special?

Citation tracking allows the site owner to check a box (in advance during site-configuration), that will automatically push any of his or her new publications, journal entries, essays or published academic research to the correct scholarly repository, thereby increasing visibility, searchability and citation counts for that published work.

Implementation FAQs

Integrations FAQs

Can third party content be displayed/embedded on OpenScholar?

We provide the ability to embed any of the services listed on embed.ly’s provider list along with providers that support the oembed protocol. Users can also ask for specific services/domains to be whitelisted so that the content can be embedded and displayed in OpenScholar.  Security and reliability are the priorities when determining the available options.

Read more about Can third party content be displayed/embedded on OpenScholar?

Platform Comparison FAQs

Do I have to get rid of my existing CMS to implement OpenScholar? Or can it get added slowly over time?

You do not have to get rid of your existing CMS. You can add OS incrementally, as many universities choose to do. Some start with only the new faculty sites. Others start with departments that are most in need of an upgrade. The beauty of OpenScholar is that the more that your university uses it, even via slow adoption, the more you will save on IT costs and the more your public facing sites will modernize.

How is OpenScholar different from Drupal Multi Site solutions?

Drupal multi-site is not a pre-configured, out-of-the-box solution for academia. It has many of the same underlying modules, but they have not been customized to meet the needs of universities. It cannot be used as a self-service solution for faculty and departments without a significant amount of on-site technical support and programming knowledge.

How are you different from WordPress?

OpenScholar was designed, from the ground up, to address 99% of scholarly website use cases, WordPress was not. OpenScholar is an out-of-the box academic website builder. With WordPress, one needs to download and install numerous plug-ins (costly, and requiring development expertise) in order to replicate the functionality that is already built into OpenScholar. Once such customization takes place on a WordPress site, every edit requires further technical help and a support ticket be submitted. OpenScholar also comes with pre-designed themes that can quickly be customized with a school’s colors, logo and fonts, WordPress cannot do this as easily as we can. Customization is a necessity for universities that rely on WordPress and it is where all of the unforeseen costs of ownership stem from.

We use WordPress already, can we continue to use WordPress? Does it integrate with WordPress?

Yes you can continue to use WordPress; many schools that use OpenScholar also use WordPress. While OpenScholar does not integrate with WordPress by the strict definition of software integration, OpenScholar and WordPress peacefully co-exist on many campuses. OpenScholar, because it is a Drupal-based platform, can easily blend with any other existing CMS in that it is highly modular, will follow the same design standards set out by your Communications Office as WordPress and adhere to the same standards of Accessibility, Security and Responsiveness. OpenScholar is often used as another option for faculty and departments, in addition to WordPress. It is used, in some cases, for all new faculty websites and old faculty websites that need to be upgraded. The more a university uses OpenScholar, the more money they save on IT management and the more current the faculty and department sites look because they are easily self-managed/edited and updated by the site owners and therefore more easily refreshed with new content.

Pricing FAQs

You talk about cost savings. Where does most of the cost savings come from when I use OpenScholar? Does it come from shrinking my IT staff? From savings on hosting? From savings on managing multiple platforms? From savings on custom website design?

It comes from all of the aforementioned. Certainly from outsourcing, as a SaaS platform that provides hosting, system administration, data back-up, security, and a Monday - Friday help desk saves on internal IT costs. It doesn’t need to shrink your IT team per se. It can free up your staff to work on more future oriented problems than providing support for antiquated hosting and CMS options. Consolidating onto one CMS also eliminates duplicates of effort within your IT team. Savings on custom website design can be a big part of it if a school is hiring a lot of outside design firms for creative work.

Accessibility FAQs

Is OpenScholar responsive?

Yes, the content and formatting design of a full size website will shape-shift automatically to fit the screen-size of a mobile device or tablet. The text, borders, etc are pre-designed to break at specific dimensional collapse points.

Is the platform Accessibility Compliant? To what level of standards? How do you ensure that sites stay Acc Compliant?

Yes, WCAG 2.1. The platform is Accessibility Compliant, however the content that a site-owner puts on his or her OpenScholar website, we cannot vouch for its compliance (for example, no document in a PDF format will be Accessibility Compliant). We can, however, encourage site owners to use certain AC tools like Site Improve that flags elements within the site that are not in compliance.

Support & Technical FAQs

Can we create and add themes to OpenScholar?

Yes, we allow people to add themes to OpenScholar. Because we are always updating and improving OpenScholar, in addition to web standards continuing to evolve, no theme is future proof. Once a new theme is uploaded, it is the responsibility of the theme provider to monitor, maintain and update the theme.

How is OpenScholar different from Drupal?

OpenScholar is a distribution of Drupal. This means we’ve chosen specific drupal features and modules important to our clients’ needs, customize them and provide them on the OpenScholar Platform. Drupal has thousands of options and we’ve curated the best of the best to make it easy for our users to use OpenScholar.

Is your help desk phone or email based? Can we use our own help desk? Do you train our IT support staff on OpenScholar?

Currently, we have an email based help desk available Monday-Friday 9am-5pm EST.

While we do handle any/all website questions for our own clients, some institutions want to handle certain support requests. We can train any school’s help desk to handle general questions for the OpenScholar users at the school. As their knowledge grows, the school’s help desk can address more advanced questions if desired.

How much control do we (the college administration) have over what faculty can do with their sites or how their sites can look?

If you are adopting an OpenScholar Institutional Plan, you have as much control or can grant as much autonomy as you choose on faculty’s ability to customize the appearance of their sites. This comes down to theming and how many or few themes you choose to offer to faculty and departments.


Read more about How much control do we (the college administration) have over what faculty can do with their sites or how their sites can look?