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eCommons Policies

Content Collection Policy

eCommons is a service of the Cornell University Library that provides long-term access to a broad range of Cornell-related digital content of enduring value. It does so by accepting, describing, organizing, storing, and preserving that content. The following describes the characteristics of content appropriate for submission to eCommons.


Content deposited in eCommons reflects the intellectual output of Cornell faculty, researchers, staff, and students. It is educational or research-oriented in nature. Examples of appropriate content include pre- and post-prints, working papers, technical reports, conference papers, and theses.

Content of archival value produced or sponsored by administrative offices, academic units, and student groups may also be appropriate for deposit in the eCommons. Examples of such content include digital departmental newsletters, administrative reports, compilations of University data, meeting agendas, and minutes.

Content produced by others but of research and/or teaching value may also be appropriate for eCommons. Such material is normally solicited, collected, or identified by Cornell faculty, researchers, staff, and students who then arrange all necessary clearances needed to deposit the material (see Deposit Agreement). Examples of such content include data sets, electronic books and multimedia, presentations given at Cornell events, and digitized research materials.


eCommons can accept many electronic file formats. Certain formats, however, such as plain text, XML, and PDF/A, are recommended because the likelihood of their full preservation in the future is much higher (see Preservation Support Policy, and Recommended File Formats for eCommons).


Individual files deposited in eCommons should normally be less than 1 GB in size.

Ownership/Intellectual Property

The author/owner of content deposited in eCommons must be willing and able to grant Cornell University the right to preserve and distribute the work via eCommons (see Deposit Agreement).

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Deposit Policy

Requirements for depositing content in eCommons are:

  1. The work must be wholly or in part produced or sponsored by Cornell faculty, researchers, staff, or students. Work by undergraduate students must have a Cornell faculty or administrative sponsor and, when appropriate, have any necessary FERPA releases.
  2. The work must be educational or research-oriented and otherwise meet the eCommons Content Collection Policy.
  3. The work must be in digital form.
  4. The work must be complete and ready for distribution, and the author/owner must be prepared to deposit the complete digital work in eCommons.
  5. The author/owner must be willing and able to grant Cornell University the right to preserve and distribute the work via eCommons (see Deposit Agreement).

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Data Deposit Policy

These policies are specific to research data and data management planning. Cornell researchers may use eCommons as a means of providing access to and preserving data sets, subject to the following conditions:

  • Owner/author agrees to abide by all eCommons policies, including the Access Policy.
  • The size of each individual file associated with a data set is within the limits of current eCommons policy. The total size of a collection of files associated with a research project and deposited into eCommons should not exceed 10 GB per year.
  • Owner/author agrees to grant Cornell University the right to preserve and distribute the work via eCommons, in accordance with the eCommons Deposit Agreement.
  • Owner/author will make a reasonable effort to use recommended formats to maximize likelihood of preservation. See Recommended File Formats for eCommons for a list of preferred formats.

Cornell researchers, especially those with quantities of data that exceed the limits of current policy, are strongly encouraged to consult with the Research Data Management Service Group (RDMSG) to determine whether eCommons is an appropriate repository for their data, and to consult the best practices documents available on the RDMSG website. Of particular relevance are the guidance on File formats, Guide to writing "readme" style metadata, and guide to Preparing tabular data for description and archiving.

Cornell researchers planning to use eCommons as a component of their data management plan (subject to the above conditions, and if no embargo or restrictions apply) may include the following language in the plan:

[Specify data sets] will be deposited in Cornell University Library's institutional repository, eCommons (, for preservation and access. Data sets will be available via the world wide web without restriction. eCommons provides each item with a persistent URL and is committed to preserving the binary form of the digital object.

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Access Policy

By default, material deposited in eCommons will be openly accessible worldwide over the Web. Under certain circumstances, restrictions or temporary embargoes on worldwide open access may be imposed. The following restrictions and embargoes are allowed:

  • Access may be restricted to members of the Cornell community. This restriction may be temporary or indefinite.
  • Access to the full text may be temporarily blocked (to any user) for an embargo period normally not to exceed 5 years. After the embargo period, the content will be openly accessible worldwide.

Access restrictions are set during the deposit process but may be relaxed at a later date.

Requests for restrictions on access should be addressed to the eCommons Administrator.

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Withdrawal Policy

eCommons is intended to provide persistent access to deposited material. Under certain circumstances, however, it may be necessary to remove material from eCommons.

A request for removal should be directed to the eCommons Administrator and include the reasons for withdrawal. eCommons staff may contact the requestor for additional information.

Since the goal of eCommons is persistent long-term access to content, original item records are retained for all withdrawn content. These records, including all original metadata, will be displayed to users. These records will contain one of the following statements:

  • Item removed from eCommons on [date] at the request of the author.
  • Item removed from eCommons on [date] by legal order.
  • Item removed from eCommons on [date] due to a violation of eCommons policy.
  • Item removed from eCommons on [date] at Cornell University Library's discretion.

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Content Alteration Policy

Once deposited, content should not normally be modified. If removal is necessary, that process will follow the Withdrawal Policy. If the description of the content (its metadata) is incorrect, the depositor must send an explanation of the error and its correction to the eCommons Administrator. Reasonable corrections to metadata will be made by eCommons staff.

If the depositor wishes to update a work, providing a new version of an existing eCommons item, he/she must contact the eCommons Administrator with an explanation. If a content file is replaced, a note will be added to the content description ("Content replaced at author's request on [date]"). If content is supplemented, by additional content files, those files should be named and dated accordingly.

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Privacy Policy

Cornell University Library is committed to preserving your privacy. Any personal information collected in the process of operating eCommons or providing access to content within eCommons is subject to the Library's Confidentiality Policy. The operation of eCommons also complies with Cornell University's policies governing Privacy of the Network.

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Preservation Support Policy

Cornell University Library is committed to responsible and sustainable management of works deposited in eCommons and to ensuring long-term access to those works.

All work deposited in eCommons will be assigned a persistent identifier and a persistent Web address (URL).

While prudent efforts will be taken to preserve work in any digital format submitted to eCommons, submission in a recommended file format is strongly encouraged in order to facilitate long-term preservation. See Recommended File Formats for eCommons for a list of preferred formats.

At this time, eCommons is committed to preserving the binary form of the digital object. Further practical measures to preserve as much functionality ("look and feel") of the original content as possible will be taken as resources permit.

Digital preservation is an evolving field. Current long-term preservation strategies and technologies employed by eCommons are shaped by the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) reference model (ISO 14721:2003) and informed by relevant international standards and emerging best practices. eCommons preservation activities and policies will be reviewed regularly to ensure that they remain current as technology and institutional practices evolve.

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