The widespread deployment of repository systems in higher education and research institutions provides the foundation for a distributed, globally networked infrastructure for scholarly communication. However, repository platforms are still using technologies and protocols designed almost twenty years ago, before the boom of the Web and the dominance of Google, social networking, semantic web and ubiquitous mobile devices. This is, in large part, why repositories have not fully realized their potential and function mainly as passive recipients of the final versions of their users’ conventionally published research outputs. In order to leverage the value of the repository network, we need to equip it with a wider array of roles and functionalities, which can be enabled through new levels of web-centric interoperability.
In April 2016, COAR launched the Next Generation Repositories Working Group to identify the core functionalities for the next generation of repositories, as well as the architectures and technologies required to implement them.
“Our vision is to position repositories as the foundation for a distributed, globally networked infrastructure for scholarly communication, on top of which layers of value added services will be deployed, thereby transforming the system, making it more research-centric, open to and supportive of innovation, while also collectively managed by the scholarly community.”
The characteristics of the next generation repository are:
- It manages and provides access to a wide diversity of resources, including published articles, pre-prints, datasets, working papers, images, software, and so on.
- It is resource-centric, making resources the focus of its services and infrastructure
- It is a networked repository. Cross-repository connections are established by introducing bi-directional links as a result of an interaction between resources in different repositories, or by overlay services that consume activity metadata exposed by repositories
- It is machine-friendly, enabling the development of a wider range of global repository services, with less development effort
- It is active and supports versioning, commenting, updating and linking across resources