Background & further information: Community Scholars Program

About the Community Scholars Program

The Community Scholars Program connects qualifying staff of BC non-profits and charities with online access to paywalled academic research from select publishers through a central search portal. We support participating Community Scholars with their research needs through librarian consultations, workshops, and communities of practice.
Please see the Community Scholars Home Page for more information about the program and services available.

How can access to published research support your work?

Our Community Scholars use access to research:

  • To strengthen or develop programs
  • To support funding applications
  • For advocacy or policy-making 
  • For organizational management
  • For personal and professional development

How did the Community Scholars Program get started?

The Community Scholars Program began in 2016 with support from the Mindset Social Innovation Foundation, with two academic publishers offering access for up to 100 Community Scholars. We have since grown to seven publishers and 500 Community Scholars, with librarian support in Vancouver, Prince George, Nanaimo, and Kamloops.

Program development: 2016 - 2020

Phase 1: 2016

  • Supported by: SFU and Mindset Social Innovation Foundation
  • Publishers: SAGE Publishing and Springer
  • 100 Community Scholars

Phase 2: 2017

  • Supported by: SFU, Mindset Social Innovation Foundation, United Way of the Lower Mainland
  • Publishers: Five new publishers on board (seven total), and over 20,000 titles. See the full list of what's available.
  • 500 Community Scholars
  • A new integrated search through the Community Scholars Portal
  • Launch customized workshops and journal clubs

Phase 3: 2018 - Present

  • Supported by: SFU, Mindset Social Innovation Foundation, United Way of the Lower Mainland, and McConnell Foundation
  • Vancouver Island University, University of Northern BC, and Thompson Rivers University partner to provide support for Community Scholars on Vancouver Island, Northern BC, and the Kamloops region.

How does the Community Scholars program differ from other community borrowing programs, such as SFU Library's External Borrower program?

SFU Library offers an External Borrower Program for community members to access certain library resources and services, including book borrowing, for an annual fee. Community members are also welcome to visit any SFU Library branch to access research databases on Library computers. The Community Scholars Program differs from these programs by offering free remote access to select online resources to qualifying staff at BC non-profits and charities.

Community Scholars Program SFU External Borrower Program
Available to up to 500 individuals working at BC nonprofits and charities Open to the public
Free for participants Costs an annual fee
Provides remote access to a selection of academic journal articles and books from wherever you have internet through the Community Scholars Research Portal Provides access to academic journal articles and books from library computers when you visit an SFU library in-person
Allows participants to borrow books from any SFU Library (for free) Allows participating borrowers to borrow books from any SFU Library (for an annual fee)

Journal Clubs: What they are and how to start one

What is a journal club?

Journal clubs are like book clubs, but with scholarly articles as the reading material. Community Scholars gather semi-monthly to discuss a research article from the Community Scholars Portal that is relevant to the work they do. An important part of journal clubs is reflections from the participants about how their own experiences affirm, counter, trouble, or otherwise relate to the readings.

Check out our upcoming journal club meetings and attend in-person or online. Don't see one on the topic of your choice? Consider starting your own!

How do I start a journal club?

Are you intrigued by the idea of a Journal Club and think it might work for you with a different topic or theme? Check out the Journal Club Backgrounder for information, and get in touch for support from your Community Scholars Librarian!

Attend or request a workshop

What kinds of workshops are available through the Community Scholars Program?

We offer workshops on research, publishing, and data & statistics. We would love to hear your suggestions for other workshops that would be valuable to your work. Please see our upcoming events + workshops, as well as our complete list of Community Scholars workshops, and get in touch with your ideas!

Can you deliver a workshop at my place of work?

Absolutely! We frequently visit Community Scholars around BC to deliver custom workshops on finding, accessing, and using academic resources. Please contact us with your idea, and we can happily tailor a workshop for you and your team. We can also arrange individual consultations over the phone or in person to tackle your specific research needs.

Tips for searching and using articles from the Portal

Where can I get help with searching the Portal?

What are some techniques for finding research beyond what's available in the search portal?

The Community Scholars Portal contains resources from seven academic publishers, in addition to open access resources, but this is by no means everything that is out there on a given topic. For tips on finding academic materials beyond the Portal, check out this blog post: Find it in the Open: Tips for searching for open access articles.

For additional help with finding research on your topic, please contact your librarian. We will be pleased to help!

Can I share the articles I find with others in or beyond my organization?

According to the Library's agreements with publishers, access to copyrighted materials is only available for you to use for your research at your non-profit or charitable organization. You can share these resources with your research team or organization, and may cite, reference, or link to their paywalled versions, but you may not further distribute, publish, or share the resources themselves. 

Exception for Open Access and Creative Commons materials: 

If the resources are published Open Access and are licensed for reuse with a Creative Commons license, can you download, share, and distribute them freely, so long as you give credit to the original author (cite the source).

How do I know whether a resource is Creative Commons, Open Access, or similar?

When you search in the Community Scholars portal you can filter your results for Open Access. You should also look at the article to make sure that it has a Creative Commons or similar licence before you share it beyond your immediate team.

Eligibility, access, and log-ins

Who is eligible for the Community Scholars Program?

The Community Scholars Program is available to staff at registered nonprofits and charities in BC. Up to five individuals may apply from a single organization.

Please see the Apply page for more information about who is eligable.

Qualifying non-profit staff can complete the online application form to join the program.

Why can't I share my login information within my organization?

Just as a library card is assigned to an individual, your Community Scholars account and login credentials are assigned to you as a library user, and may not be shared with others within or beyond the organization. Space permitting, we can accept up to five individuals from a single organization. Each person will need to request their own access by completing the Community Scholars Application Form. This is due to the licensing agreements with the participating publishers, who have permitted access for up to 500 people working at nonprofits and charities in BC.

I'm not currently affiliated with a non-profit, but I could benefit from access to academic research. Are there any other services you can recommend?

Check out the follow resources for finding access to academic research beyond the Community Scholars Program.

I recently changed organizations. Can I keep my Community Scholars access?

If you are moving to another BC non-profit, please contact us to let us know your new organization name and email address. Your Community Scholars account information will not change, and you will continue to receive communications from us at your new email address.

If you are moving on from your organization and would like to give your spot in the program to someone on our waitlist - or if you no longer qualify for the program in your new role - please let us know. We will be sorry to see you go, but can assign the spot to someone else at your former organization, or one of our wait listed applicants.