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Towards a global knowledge commons

COAR’s response to draft implementation requirements in Plan S

The Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) reiterates our support for the goal of Plan S to achieve “immediate Open Access to all scholarly publications from research” and we appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback on the guidance on the implementation of the Plan.

We recognize and agree with the aim of transforming the publishing industry, however to truly improve and transform the system there needs to be a multipronged approach, with a number of actions undertaken concurrently. We would like to stress the importance of repositories as complementary mechanisms for advancing innovation in research communications, as outlined in the COAR Next Generation Repositories report and ensure that their role is adequately reflected in Plan S.

In general, COAR supports the implementation guidelines outlined in Plan S and therefore we will focus our comments on the requirements for repositories. COAR and others in the repository community have significant concerns related to several of the requirements for repositories, a number of which we argue are not necessary and will create artificial barriers to the participation of universities and other research organizations in the scholarly communication system. While some of these recommendations may be ‘nice to have’, they are not prerequisites for robust and interoperable repository services. Instead they could result in driving repository functionality in the wrong direction, create too high of a bar for less resourced institutions, and further centralize research infrastructures and services because they cannot be adopted, leading to a replication of the existing inequalities in the scholarly communication system.

The full response is available here: COAR response to implementation of Plan S

Engaging the research community with repository services

One of the most challenging aspects of managing a repository is to raise the visibility of repository services in order to ensure researchers are contributing their research outputs. In our recent survey of COAR members, “engaging with the research community” was rated as the top major challenge for respondents.

To address this issue, COAR will be undertaking a number of activities to document effective practices for repository services in engaging with the research communities. As a start, COAR organized a webinar yesterday with three presenters who shared their different experiences.

Here is a summary of my major takeaways from the presentations:

There are no easy answers, but a multidimensional approach, working on several levels, is most effective including some or all of the following:

  • Adopt institutional requirements or policies (e.g. For research assessment, you articles must be in the repository)
  • Provide incentives for researchers (e.g. If you deposit, you can then have access to the APC fund)
  • Include the repository in a suite of other services that are offered to researchers (e.g. We can help you with publishing, or with managing your data)
  • Develop promotional material targeted at the research community
  • Create more user friendly tools and interfaces (e.g. Improve the deposit interface)

And, perhaps most important:

  • Nurture strong relationships with researchers and research departments at the institution

The video of the presentations is available on YouTube

Thanks to our three presenters:

  • Isabel Bernal, Spanish National Research Council | DIGITAL.CSIC: Services to Engage institutional Users.
  • Tuija Korhonen, Helsinki University Library | Data Support Services at the University of Helsinki
  • Edit Görögh, University of Debrecen & University of Göttingen | Researcher Engagement at the University of Debrecen

Results of COAR membership survey

In July/August 2018, COAR conducted a survey to better understand the value of the organization and identify priority activities for members in the coming years. This report provides the results of the survey, which will be shared with members and considered carefully by COAR as we revise and update the COAR Strategic Plan 2019-2021 and Work Plan 2019.

Map of respondents: the survey had 59 respondents from 23 countries
(respondents location shown in light green in the map above)

Key Takeaways

  • The three biggest challenges related to repositories are (1) user engagement and getting content deposited, (2) awareness and visibility of repository, and (3) research data management.
  • Members most value COAR for (1) staying up to date with current practices for repositories and (2) strengthening the role of repositories in the scholarly communication/research landscape.
  • Top three COAR activities are (1) next generation repositories, (2) research data management, and (3) interoperability and alignment.
  • 66% of respondents are not involved directly in any COAR activities/working groups.
  • 68% of respondents are satisfied with their levels of interaction with COAR, while 27% would like to be more involved.
  • Members want COAR to continue working at the strategic level, but would also like to have more engagement and pragmatic support for repository operations.
  • Members appreciate and derive significant value from COAR’s regional outreach efforts.

Presentations about ResourceSync

COAR recently hosted a webinar for platform providers about one of the next generation repository technologies, ResourceSync.

The aim was to provide more information about the use cases and rationale for repository platforms to implement ResourceSync into their software.

The webinar included presentations by Martin Klein from Los Alamos National Laboratory (one of the developers of Resourcer Sync) and Petr Knoth (from the CORE aggregator that is using and will benefit from its adoption)

The presentations were recorded and are available here:

Martin Klein:

Petr Knoth:
Slides: and

So far, we know that ResourceSync is already on the roadmap of many of the open source platform providers, but it is important that the benefits of adoption are widely understood.

COAR’s response to Plan S

On September 4, 2018, a coalition of research funders in Europe published Plan S, an ambitious plan to accelerate Open Access in Europe.

COAR welcomes the strong stance taken towards open access by a coalition of 11 European Funders, coordinated by Science Europe as outlined in Plan S and we strongly support the goal of accelerating the transition to open access.

Europe has been one of the leading regions in regards to Open Access and Open Science; nevertheless, it is important to appreciate that the policies and practices adopted in Europe will have an impact on other regions and countries outside of Europe. As such, COAR has three recommendations for these funders as the implementation of Plan S moves forward

  1. Do not restrict the vehicles for providing open access to ‘journals’ and ‘platforms’, but rather develop assessment criteria based on functions, like peer-review and other types of editorial services.
  2. Make use of the existing organized and globally connected repository network to advance Open Access and Open Science across the world.
  3. Be aware and responsive to the significant concerns in other regions and countries about the widespread adoption of the APC model.

COAR’s full response is available here