Content Scope Policy

ScholarWorks SWAT Team
Submitted February 26, 2019
Approved by COLD March 1, 2019


Survey results from the SWAT Team Report (2019) revealed that there is a great deal of diversity of item and content types found in the CSU institutional repositories (ScholarWorks, bepress) and the CSU digital collections & archives systems (CONTENTdm, Islandora). Survey data also revealed a lack consistency for most of the content types and content formats found in each of the above systems and platforms. As an example, CSU Northridge deposits digital newspapers in CONTENTdm, whereas SJSU deposits theirs in their Institutional Repository platform. The decisions are oftentimes made by the project lead. Some campuses have never had a digital collections & archives platform, and thus, ScholarWorks has served a dual purpose
for them.

As the CSU strategizes about offering two distinct platforms serving different purposes and perhaps different audiences, it is recommended that a governance taskforce assume the longterm role of defining, adjusting, and enforcing the content scope for each platform. The thoughtful definition of content scope will impact branding efforts, and even more so, has the potential to improve system-wide efforts as they relate to item discovery, construction of appropriate metadata schemas, as well as preservation practices and policies. The SWAT team is providing the initial guide for such content scope.

Content Scope Guiding Principle

Given that the scope-defining work will likely be an ongoing effort, the SWAT team suggests using the “scholarship test” as the initial guiding principle on whether an item or a collection of items is better suited for ScholarWorks vs. a Digital Collections & Archives system. In determining such suitability, a depositor or project owner could ask the following two questions:

  • Has the item/content been produced by the university, or in part by someone affiliated with the university?
  • Was the item/content produced as part of the scholarship and research activities of the institution or those affiliated with it?

If the answer to both of the above questions is “Yes”, then the item, content, or collection meets the suitability test for ScholarWorks. The SWAT team examined survey data related to the content types that are currently being deposited and hosted in the CSU institutional repositories as well as the digital collections & archives systems.

Using the scholarship test, the list of content types appearing below were recommended as most suitable for one system (ScholarWorks) vs the other (Digital Collections & Archives). There are cases when item types denoted as most suitable for a Digital Collections and Archives system, would be more appropriate for ScholarWorks, or vice versa. For example, an aerial image produced as part of a research project of a faculty member may be more suitable for ScholarWorks, vs. a historical collection of aerial images from the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta being more suitable for a Digital Collections & Archives platform.

The following is by no means an exhaustive list, nor is it an exclusive one, but it provides an indication and serves as an initial guide.


  • Books
  • Electronic Theses
  • Masters Projects
  • Dissertations (ETDs)
  • Faculty Publications
  • Poster Presentations
  • Data Sets
  • Undergraduate Student Work
  • Educational Resources (syllabi, online materials)
  • Campus journals*
  • Conferences*
  • Presentations
  • Faculty Research Projects
  • Output from university-affiliated research institutions (reports, white papers)
  • Output from university-affiliated national scholarly associations (proceedings)
  • Output from university-affiliated national professional organizations (magazines/trade publications)
  • Software or Program Code (when part of IR item, ex. Thesis, project)

Digital Collections & Archives

  • Institutional or Administrative Documents
  • Meeting Agendas & Notes
  • Newsletters
  • Ephemera (flyers, programs)
  • Student publications (magazines, newspapers, newsletters)
  • Student organizations' output (publications, events, images)
  • Photographs
  • Images from our fine arts collection for item discovery
  • Multi-page documents (letters, reports, newsletters)
  • Sound recordings
  • Newspapers
  • Transcripts/interviews
  • Posters
  • Architectural drawings
  • Maps
  • Aerial Photographs
  • Realia
  • Fashion plates
  • Musical scores
  • Oral histories - unless they’re part of a student/faculty research project (then IR)
  • University Concerts
  • Recitals
  • Museum Collections/Catalog or Citation Data
  • Finding Aids*
  • Websites*

* Denotes other system/platform may be more suitable