Frequently Asked Questions

For information regarding specific journals and peer-reviewed series please contact the editors on those pages.


How do I or others benefit from TopSCHOLAR®?

TopSCHOLAR® is a digital archive as well as a new discovery path for primary research and creative works at WKU. Each deposit receives a permanent URL that you can copy into an email, vita, or elsewhere and open at the document level. Students can search the database for primary sources and also publish their capstone papers, presentations, research and honors theses under faculty sponsorship. Faculty can see what others on campus and in the Digital Commons Gateway are doing with most recent downloads and searches across the participants' databases ( Faculty also experience wider distribution of their works, whether previously published in a different version or newly published, as the repository provides worldwide open access.

If you want to launch an e-journal, publish an e-newsletter or a book, TopSCHOLAR® is a publishing platform that allows for many types of publications and many levels of involvement. Additional training is available for those interested in starting a new journal or other types of publications, such as newsletters or conference proceedings.

Students can discover your research through Google, Yahoo! and other search engines, as well as through direct access via WKU sites. The popular and scholarly indexers place a high priority on digital repositories, so your output generally indexes near the top of a list, rather than buried 500 pages later.

As an author, if your deposit has downloads, you receive monthly statistics that tell number of downloads. In addition you may receive email inquiries for copies of your articles where the sender might not have access to printing a PDF.

You can receive email alerts on subjects you specify when anyone within the Digital Commons gateway posts an applicable paper. Just register under Notify Me on the home page of TopSCHOLAR®. The Digital Commons gateway is and lists others participants as well as useful information about research repositories.

TopSCHOLAR® is a valuable way to extend the scholarly output of WKU with truly international reach with the widest possible circulation. TopSCHOLAR® exists to capture the intellectual capital of WKU and to share it with the world.


What types of work will I find in TopSCHOLAR®?

TopSCHOLAR® is the institutional repository of WKU, dedicated to scholarly research, creative activity and other full-text learning resources that merit enduring and archival value and access through a centralized database that supports the intellectual life of the University and provides easy searching and retrieval.

Some examples, by no means comprehensive, are journal articles, conference proceedings, symposia, presentations, theses, data sets, learning modules, working papers, creative works (poems, art, drama), essays, monographs, technical papers, occasional papers. Whatever the individual within a community (discipline) wants to preserve and showcase to the world can be considered for TopSCHOLAR®. There are no predefined parameters for content. With each discipline having different expectations and requirements for intellectual achievement and outreach, TopSCHOLAR® will provide author-supplied broad-based content that promotes a common opportunity for presenting internally and globally what is being accomplished at WKU.

Materials with a short life cycle (such as syllabi) are typically not added to TopSCHOLAR®. Content can be reassessed if a community deems such short-term materials worthwhile for that discipline and of lasting value to others. In general bibliographic citations or abstracts alone, without the referenced paper, are not posted.

Who can contribute?

Any WKU faculty, staff, or student with faculty-sponsored research with full-text content can have documents posted on TopSCHOLAR®. If no community represents your discipline yet, site administrators will, in consultation with departments/units, establish the community and an appropriate series. Communities are generally structured along the lines of the various disciplines or organizational hierarchies. Faculty, departments, centers, and administrative units are encouraged to populate TopSCHOLAR® and to select, submit, and publish works of enduring value that merit permanent access, contribute to the intellectual capital of WKU, and provide primary research resources for students and faculty worldwide.

How do I submit to TopSCHOLAR®?

For articles being submitted to a journal hosted by TopSCHOLAR®, please ignore submission instructions below and use the submission form or guidelines listed on the journal’s homepage. A list of all journals hosted by TopSCHOLAR® can be found here: (Note: not all journals may be open for submission)

For submission directly to TopSCHOLAR® you will need to supply the following in at least 2 separate files as e-mail attachments:


For File 1:
  1. Author(s) and/or editor(s) names and email(s) and affiliations [faculty advisors where appropriate for student submissions]
  2. Title (exactly as you want it to appear) and 2-5 keywords that are not included in the title or abstract for better indexing; date of the version submitted
  3. An Abstract separate from the main document (even if one is already included in the manuscript). The format of the abstract needs to be reduced to plain text with no fonts or special characters.*(See additional details at asterisk for special characters and coding)
  4. Any special Comments (acknowledgements, permissions with citations/links to published article, anything that needs to be stated on the web site
For File 2:
  1. The document in MSWord or RTF (Digital Commons generates a title page and the PDF). If never published before, generally use Times Romans, 12 point. A PowerPoint (PPS or PPT) can be uploaded but it will not be generated as a PDF; it will remain as a PowerPoint.
  2. Associated (or supplemental) files, such as video, audio, figures, tables, graphs, charts. These are uploaded individually and appear separate from the main document. Please also be sure that there are no permissions issues related to use of the associated material. Sometimes, especially with images, you must write a letter seeking permission to use the material before it can be posted. (Also see Copyright and Permissions section).
  3. Signed author copyright form granting permission to upload and any appropriate publisher permissions. Click here to access an online fillable form.


When you have everything ready: email your files as attachments and any explanatory message to If you'd like to call first to discuss content and ask questions, please contact Suellyn Lathrop-270-745-4793.

If I don't have electronic versions of old working papers that I'd like to include in the repository, is it okay to scan the printed page to a PDF file?

Scanning printed pages to create the PDF file for a submission is the right solution. There are two ways to scan a page: using OCR (optical character recognition) or scan the page as an image. An OCR scan will give you the text of the paper, but typically requires significant proofreading and reformatting to generate a presentable version of the file. The benefit is that the scanned text may be included in the search index and therefore the article is more likely to be discovered via a full-text search at the site. Files scanned as images essentially produce pictures of each scanned page. The scanned page is visually identical to the printed page, so there isn't any additional proofreading or editing that you need to do. The drawback is that the full text of the document cannot be included in the search index because the PDF file will contain only a picture of the words, and not the words themselves. Also note that scanned files can be quite large if scanned as images. Work with the settings of your scanning software to determine a good balance between the quality of the scanned file and the size of the resulting PDF.

What if I need to change something after I have submitted it?

Digital repositories are designed to archive finished materials. You cannot edit a deposit once it has been assigned a URL and posted to TopSCHOLAR®; however, you can send a revision or new edition for posting in addition to the original version. We encourage stringent proofreading before submissions. Site administrators do not revise, edit, or proofread submissions for accuracy.

What part of my submission is searchable?

The Search box on TopSCHOLAR® home page searches the authors, keywords, title, abstract and full text.

What if my community/discipline is not listed yet?

When you contact the above, the site administrator will discuss options with you and then establish the community and a series if none has been created. This only takes a few quick steps prior to loading your documents.


Here are examples of how to cite information in the TopSCHOLAR®, using MLA and APA style. You must first determine if the article was published previously or not.

Published previously:

If TopSCHOLAR® article has been previously published, you will find a notation in TopSCHOLAR® under the Document type that begins "Reprinted with permission from..."


Niedermeier, Lynn E. "Veteran's Village." Landmark Report 14.1 (Oct. 1999): 4-5. TopSCHOLAR®.
Craven Lib., Western Kentucky U. 4 May 2007 ‹›.

Note in MLA the first date (Oct. 1999 in this case) is the original date of publication. The second date (4 May 2007) is the date the document was retrieved by you from the TopSCHOLAR®. All months except May, June, and July are abbreviated.


Give proper citation for the publication then follow with "Retrieved from…." For example, a magazine article is like this:

Niedermeier, L. E. (1999, October). Veteran's village. Landmark Report, 14, 4-5. Retrieved May 4, 2007,
from Western Kentucky University TopSCHOLAR® website:

Not published previously:

If an article is first published in TopSCHOLAR®, then use this format for references:


Hurd, David I. "Eminent Domain: Resolving Conflicts Faced by the Engineer." 19 Mar.
2007. TopSCHOLAR®. Western Kentucky U. Lib. 4 May 2007 ‹›.


Hurd, D. I. (2007). Eminent domain: Resolving conflicts faced by the engineer. Retrieved May 4, 2007,
from Western Kentucky University TopSCHOLAR® website:


When submitting material, each person agrees to the following:

All authors must hold ownership rights to the material, and/or must obtain permission from third party owners, and must sign and submit a copyright permission form to with the content to be deposited.

If third-party permission is granted, please give exact wording to be used, name of publisher, date published, journal, issue, pagination, DOI (when known), etc. If you are uncertain about contributing previously published material, check the SherpaRoMEO site (Rights Metadata for Open Archiving) for useful information about many publishers' policies ( If publishers are not there, contact them directly.

Authors can often negotiate the right to deposit a current article in an institutional repository. Just try. Other sites that might prove useful for license agreements or negotiations include:


How does TopSCHOLAR™ define the following terms?

colleges, divisions, departments, research centers, schools, or some other administrative unit within WKU
"the container" for the content (deposit) that resides within a Community (such as "Faculty Publications," "Working Papers," "Seminar Series")
the content for the series; each individual document placed in the series
Associated Files (Supplemental Files):
images, spreadsheets, datasets that are .jpg, .tif, or other extensions which are uploaded individually and placed separately after the document.
the creator of the deposit
Site Administrators:
persons authorized to upload and post content and make revisions and corrections to the site


TopSCHOLAR® is designed as a permanent scholarly record. Once a paper is deposited, a citation to the paper will always remain. The works should be accurate and ready for public dissemination and have proper permissions if previously published; however, in exceptional situations authors may request that the administrator withdraw or remove a particular paper or version of the paper.

If an item is withdrawn, a placeholder will be put on TopSCHOLAR® to indicate permanent and deliberate withdrawal and search engines will be blocked from detecting it, but the item will continue to exist in the database for archival value.

If a working paper is later published in a journal (either in the same or revised form), the publisher may require that the paper be removed; however, the publisher may also be willing to grant posting with an appropriate link to the final commercially published version. The author can often negotiate this arrangement. (See also Copyright and Permissions)

If an item is removed, it will be deleted from the database and cannot be reinstated without re-submission.

Withdrawals and removals are highly discouraged. A “Withdrawn” or “Removed” tombstone is left in its place for someone who enters the item’s URL and cannot find the document.


How does TopSCHOLAR® digital research fit within University policies?

Each person is responsible for adhering to University policies regarding integrity in research, and other scholarly activities (, intellectual property ( and other guidelines relating to scholarship at WKU. (See the latest edition of the WKU Faculty Handbook)

How does TopSCHOLAR® support the vision and mission of WKU?

WKU is becoming a leading American university with international reach and the University of choice for students and faculty who are dedicated to academic excellence. WKU prepares students to be productive citizens of a global society and provides service and lifelong learning opportunities.

As the first Digital Commons research repository in Kentucky, TopSCHOLAR® is well-positioned to provide permanent and accessible primary research and creative works of the University community to the world with one click on a URL link permanently assigned to a work. The author-supplied broad-based content promotes a singular, centralized opportunity for sharing among ourselves and with the world the intellectual capital of WKU faculty, staff, and students. TopSCHOLAR® creates new discovery paths and information possibilities for the entire WKU community.