COAR and SPARC have a shared vision of creating a global, open knowledge sharing system that centers diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we believe repositories play a central role in achieving this vision.

This is an important moment in time, in which open scholarship is more visible and widely-embraced than ever before. The urgency of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic has led many researchers to eagerly embrace new, faster ways of sharing their research papers, data, and more via repositories and other open platforms. There is a renewed interest in community ownership of both infrastructure and content, and a spotlight on empowering author’s rights retention due to new funder requirements, such as Plan S. There is also a growing recognition of the pressing need to intentionally build channels for greater inclusiveness and diversity of voices in the research communication system, as underscored in the UNESCO draft recommendations which were developed through consensus by over 100 member countries.

Yet, against this backdrop of encouraging developments, the trend toward commercial concentration in the publishing industry continues unabated. This consolidation exacerbates a number of serious problems in the system, including unacceptably high and ever-increasing costs for subscriptions and APCs (article processing charges). It also contributes to a steady decline in the diversity of publishing outlets and options – decreasing bibliodiversity, which is fundamental for a healthy ecosystem.

Individual repositories and a global repository network are critical infrastructure that provide the community with means for resisting this consolidation. Repositories are localized and can respond to different users’ needs, advancing equity and diversity in the scholarly communications ecosystem. When they are resourced properly, they are sustainable and long-lived, and because they are mostly managed by research institutions and their libraries, they are operated in a manner consistent with the academic community’s values. Moreover, repositories exemplify the key role institutions must play in preserving, curating, and making accessible content that would otherwise be unavailable to the world.

With the introduction of significant new functionalities through the COAR Next Generation Repositories Initiative and the COAR Notify Project, repositories are poised to take on a more expansive and innovative role in scholarly communications. In particular, the COAR Notify Project is developing a common technical model and standard protocols to support communications between repositories with peer review services and overlay journals using linked data notifications – essentially removing the distinction between so-called “green” and “gold” routes to open access. This will enable scaling up of the “publish, then review” approach, where articles are first made available through an open access repository or preprint server, and then reviewed by an external review service or overlay journal. This approach opens up important new opportunities for increasing transparency and raising the quality of research communication.

With this context in mind, COAR and SPARC believe that it is a critical time to support and better organize the repository network in the US. This is part of an ongoing global effort led by COAR to work with national and regional organizations to enhance the role of repositories internationally. A strong vision for repositories in the US, along with collective actions that ensure their quality, sustainability and interoperability, will greatly benefit the scholarly community, and will contribute to the development of a global knowledge sharing system that is both open by default and equitable by design.

We are pleased to announce that COAR and SPARC will be collaborating on a number of activities to help advance the network of repositories in the U.S., leveraging relevant national and international developments to enhance the US repository network.

Among other things, this work will involve:

  • Convening a high-level expert group of both Library Deans/Directors and IR managers to develop a strategic vision for repositories in the United States
  • Increasing awareness in the research community about innovations for repositories
  • Promoting the central importance of repositories with other stakeholder communities

As a first step, we are seeking a COAR/SPARC Visiting Program Officer (VPO) in summer 2021 to lead these efforts. A full description of the role is available here , and we encourage you to share information about this new opportunity throughout the U.S library community.  We’re looking forward to working together with you to capitalize on the unique opportunities in front of us at this important point in the evolution of the open movement.

Kathleen Shearer
COAR Executive Director

Heather Joseph
SPARC Executive Director