January 29, 2019 – Science and scholarship are critical to improving our lives and solving the world’s most intractable problems. The communication of research, a vital step in the research process, should be efficient, effective and fulfill the core values of scholarship. There is growing concern about the increasing concentration of control of research communication functions in the hands of a small number of players, whose objectives do not reflect the interests of scholarship.
In September 2017, COAR and SPARC published a joint statement related to this issue and pledged to collaborate with others on actions that will ensure research communication services are better aligned with the aims of research. Accordingly, COAR and SPARC have developed seven good practice principles for scholarly communication services. The aim is to ensure that services are transparent, open, and support the aims of scholarship.
Kathleen Shearer, Executive Director of COAR led the webinar together with Paul Walk, member of the COAR Next Generation Repositories Working Group, who provided important context and details related to the technical aspect of the COAR response. Shearer briefly explained COAR’s reaction and response webinar participants and opened the floor for the questions and comments about the Plan S compliant repository requirements.
In general, COAR is strongly supportive of Plan S, is pleased that repositories are included as a mechanism for complying with Plan S (as they are important to ensure innovation in the scholarly publishing system) but has some reservations about the specific functional requirements for repositories as currently outlined.
In this highly engaged, well-attended webinar, participants provided great comments, interesting questions and valuable input to the discussion.
COAR will be revising its response to Plan S based on these discussions and other community feedback and will submit a final, formal response before February 1st, 2019 and also post it on the COAR website.
Webinar recording and the slides of the presentation are now available through our channels.
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.
COAR hosted a members-only webinar on 5 December on role of open repositories in research data management (RDM). RDM is a large component of open science, and the role of repositories is crucial in supporting RDM. Many repository services that began by collecting articles are interested in expanding their operations to include research data but it is difficult to know where to start.
While every organization and jurisdictional context is different, there are many shared challenges with adopting research data management services. Given the complexity and expertise related to RDM, some organizations can find it overwhelming. But, organizations just have to start somewhere, and then build and expand expertise and services incrementally over time.
The research data management lifecycle can work as a good metaphor for designing services: “before research begins”, “while work is in progress”, “at the end of research”. Absolutely critical is that RDM service help researchers. If services are built on and respond to existing needs and requirements of the research community, they can greatly help increase the reputation and visibility of the library as a partner in research.
Key issues for organizations are:
How to balance the need to develop trusted services based on best practices vs. the resources required to adhere to stringent standards. Are there some feasible FAIR data practices and certification processes?
Identifying the main interoperability requirements for linking data and other types of content and integrating different data sets. Geographic location is one element that works for many datasets, but more recommendations are needed.
Defining the collection policy for the repository. Will the repository collect any type of research data produced by affiliated researchers, focus on a specific domain specific, address long tail RDM needs only?
Should different platforms be adopted for RDM? While existing IR platforms have extended their functionality to include research data, there have limitations. As services mature, the organization may need to consider systems that specialize in RDM.
Preservation services for RDM are still in their infancy. The resource required for long term preservation often are beyond the existing service
We thank the presenters for sharing their experience with the COAR community and COAR will try to help address some of the challenges identified above through its RDM working group.
Webinar recording and the slides of the presentations are now available:
COAR, with other partners including WACREN (West and Central African Research and Education Network) and EIFL, is coordinating a repository workshop in Zanzibar, Tanzania on November 19-20, 2018.
This is the first in a series of meetings to develop a more cohesive strategy for strengthening and building more comprehensive repository networks in Africa. The two-day workshop, which will take place in conjunction with the UbuntuNet Conference, will convene library and NREN (National Research and Education Network) stakeholders from African countries to explore how library-based repositories can better engage with NREN services in order to break down institutional silos, add value to repositories, and support the growth of open science in the region.
The meeting will discuss the current state of open access and repositories in Africa through a presentation of the results of a LIBSENSE survey of higher education sector librarians. It will address issues of interoperability, technical development of repositories, and next generation repository services. Additionally, the benefits and roles of network services will be examined and participants will work together to develop a roadmap and identify priority activities for next steps.
These activities are part of a broader effort by COAR to help build capacity and align repository networks around the world. Work that is funded through the OpenAIRE Advance project. It contributes to our vision of building an inclusive and sustainable global knowledge commons, in which all regions and researchers can participate.
We would like to give you an update about meetings that COAR Executive Director, Kathleen Shearer attended two weeks ago in Santiago, Chile.
The meetings were organized by LA Referencia and the Licensing Consortia from Latin America and the Caribbean.
The meetings offered an opportunity to share information about the financial and licensing issues related to the big deals, and also the challenges for these countries that would arise with a potential flip to APCs. In Latin America, where they already have significant government investments in their local journal infrastructure (especially through the SciELO and Redalyc platforms), they are firm in their support for repositories as the preferred road for open access to articles published in the large commercial journals.
It was highlighted that access to underlying research data has become increasingly important in the Latin American context, and some countries already have laws requiring that research data be made available. To
increase capacity for RDM in Latin America, LA Referencia and CERN signed an MOU to facilitate the use of the Zenodo repository for Latin American researchers and institutions. The agreement is the result of joint work that LA Referencia has been undertaking with COAR (Confederation of Open Access Repositories) and OpenAIRE, the European Open Science Platform, to internationalise research infrastructures and ensure alignment across regions.
We agreed on several areas in which COAR and La Referencia could collaborate more closely:
Promoting the role of repositories and the next generation repository vision in Latin America
Working together on increasing expertise and building capacity for repositories
Improving communications between our two organizations
And last but not least, we would like to congratulate COAR Executive Board member, Bianca Amaro (IBICT, Brazil) who was elected President of LA Referencia for the next two years. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Bianca, Alberto Cabezas and all the other members and staff of LA Referencia.
The Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) and the Center for Direct Scientific Communication (CCSD) are pleased to announce that the next COAR Annual Meeting will take place in Lyon, France.
For more information, go to the Annual Meeting webpage (coming soon).
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
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)
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.
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: