Technical recommendations for next generation repositories

November 28, 2017

COAR is pleased to publish the report, Behaviours and Technical Recommendations of the COAR Next Generation Repositories Working Group

By Eloy Rodrigues, COAR Chairman and Kathleen Shearer, COAR Executive Director

In April 2016, the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) launched the Next Generation Repository Working Group to identify new functionalities and technologies for repositories. In this report, we are pleased to present the results of the work of this group, including recommendations for the adoption of new technologies, standards, and protocols that will help repositories become more integrated into the web environment and enable them to play a larger role in the scholarly communication ecosystem.

The current system for disseminating research, which is dominated by commercial publishers, is far from ideal. In an economic sense, prices for both subscriptions and APCs are over-inflated and will likely continue to rise at unacceptable rates. Additionally, there are significant inequalities in the international publishing system both in terms of access and participation. The incentives built into the system, which oblige researchers to publish in traditional publishing venues, perpetuate these problems and greatly stifle our ability to evolve and innovate.

At COAR, we believe the globally distributed network of more than 3000 repositories can be leveraged to create a more sustainable and innovative system for sharing and building on the results of research. Collectively, repositories can provide a comprehensive view of the research of the whole world, while also enabling each scholar and institution to participate in the global network of scientific and scholarly enquiry. Building additional services such as standardized usage metrics, peer review and social networking on top of a trusted global network of repositories has the potential to offer a viable alternative.

The vision underlying the work of Next Generation Repositories 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.

An important component of this vision is that repositories will provide access to a wide variety of research outputs, creating the conditions whereby a greater diversity of contributions to the scholarly record will be accessible, and also formally recognized in research assessment processes.

Our vision is aligned with others, such as MIT’s Future of Libraries Report and Lorcan Dempsey’s notion of the “inside-out” library, that are defining a new role of libraries in the 21st century. This future involves a shift away from libraries purchasing content for their local users, towards libraries curating and sharing with the rest of the world the research outputs produced at their institution. COAR’s mission is to ensure that, as libraries and research organizations invest in and enhance their local services, they adopt common standards and functionalities that will allow them to participate in the global network. We very much hope that the recommendations provided in this report will contribute to the transition towards this new role for repositories and libraries.

This was a truly collaborative effort. We would like to sincerely thank the members of the Next Generation Repositories Working Group for their generous contributions and significant efforts towards this undertaking. They have brought a breadth and depth of expertise, without which we would not have been able to accomplish this work. We are very grateful!

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