Over 170 people attended the OpenAIRE – COAR conference on May 21/22, in the Acropolis Museum. The two-day event was live-streamed, and an extra 90+ virtual delegates tuned in to watch the event.

All slides from the programme are now online at the OpenAIRE slideshare pages and via the COAR website.

Some articles and blogs about the conference:

Check OpenAIRE flickr and COAR flickr for lots of photos from the Conferrence and the pre-conference workshop!

The international conference took place in the state-of-the-art Acropolis museum, a repository in its own right of the ancient historic record, and was attended by a broad set of stakeholders: institutional directors, data experts, EC national points of references, librarians, EC officials, publishers, new publishing initiatives, repository managers and many open access champions and practical implementers.


The main conference explored many diverse themes in the open access eco-system. This included the implementation of open access infrastructures; the impact of open access; text and data mining. The kick-off message from the EC by Anni Hellman (DG CNECT), was one of integration of e-infrastructures and to support tomorrow’s scientists (presentation). Watch her press interview below.

Opening Addresses

The keynotes explored two perspectives in the scholarly landscape: the institution and a data-driven infrastructure. Leslie Chan (presentation) talked about the inherent inequalities in the current scholarly publishing system and explained how the current system disadvantages researchers in the developing world, both in terms of publishing opportunities as well as access to research outputs. He championed the role of the institutional repository and its potential role in changing the system for the better. A distributed network of open access repositories, says Chan, could be starting point for the development of value added services, such as publishing, using which the community could ‘legitimise the broader spectrum of scholarly communication’.

From institutional data to big data: Sean Hill (presentation) of the Human Brain Project. Collaboration is the key to laying the foundations of a new model of research, the importance of tracking the provenance of data and building workflows in order to, most importantly, integrate all the data infrastructures that exist in such a large, science intensive, and valuable project.

Aligning infrastructures

The conference began with a session focused on the variety of repository networks that have developed around the globe. Nobert Lossau introduced the session by talking about the efforts of COAR to align repository networks globally. Donatella Castelli (presentation began the session with an overview of OpenAIRE developments in the past years and outlook to next steps.

Elliott Shore offered an overview of the SHARE initiative (presentation), a new effort to develop a US-wide network. The first step will be the development of a notification system which will report on research outcomes. Shore emphasized that US universities are measured in data-driven ways yet they have very little information about their research outputs. SHARE is developing a solution that will enable institutions to more accurately track and report on their research outputs.
Carmen Gloria Labbé described the LA Referencia repository network (presentationcovering nine Latin American countries. Latin America has been a world leader in the adoption of open access laws and have focused their efforts on developing a robust repository network in support of these policies and laws. La Referencia is a collaboration of government agencies in none countries collaborating in order to improve the visibility of the region’s scientific outputs.
Jose de Buerba (presentationof the World Bank talked about the conversion of the World Bank to open access. In 2012 the World Bank decided to transition from a subscription-based publisher to open access. They adopted an OA policy and launched their own local repository, Open Knowledge Repository (OKR), in which all content is attached with a creative commons license. In order to improve access, they have also developed a system whereby other repositories can download parts of the OKR collection in order to provide access at the local level. This is especially helpful in developing countries, where bandwidths are low. Since the adoption of open access, the World Bank has seen usage and download rates of their content rise dramatically.

Research Data: an institutional perspective

Jeff Haywood (presentation), VP for Knowledge Management at the University of Edinburgh, described how the RDM policy at the institution and conditions required to adopt and such a policy on campus. At a pragmatic level, researchers need easy tools to use during grant applications, somewhere to store their data, and to be persuaded into good RDM practices early on in the research process.

Chuck Humphrey (presentation), Data Coordinator at Alberta University, talked about the long tail of data and the challenges associated with managing very diverse and heterogeneous data. He also emphasized the need for collaboration across stakeholder communities and also the importance of working with researchers from the outset so that they adopt good data management practices when they are collecting or producing their data. He pointed out that researchers don’t really “publish” data, but rather disseminate data.

Varsha Khodiyar (presentation) from the open life sciences journal F1000Research described the data workflow in their publishing process aimed at capturing the long tail of research data, by connecting publications to the underlying data. Varsha also outlined the support provided to authors during the data preparation and submission process.

TDM and Research Impact

A growing number of researchers are interested in large scale text or data mining. The session on TDM raised some interesting points about the new limitations and exceptions at the European level. There are still a number of barriers that stop researchers from mining large bodies of content. Presenters, Prodromos Chiavos and Sophia Ananiadou (presentation), offered advice and examples of how the community could move forward to better enable TDM services for researchers. Cameron Neylon (presentation) disputed the 3 myths of TDM and argued that TDM should be at the heart of new publishing and is an essential service that should be offered open access publishers and any modern web service.

In the ‘Impact of Openness’ session, Clifford Tatum (presentation) described the ACUMEN project which aims to measure in new ways the impact of researchers and what the current systems lacks such as the gaps between evaluation criteria and the functions of science. William Gunn (presentation) presented Mendeley and the personalisation of the research record, emphasising that repositories aren’t yet in the daily workflow of the researcher. A presentation by Erika Widegen (presentation) looked at how much the media can increase impact and innovation.

New publishing models included presentations from  Mike Taylor (presentation) of the LIBRE platform which provides a transparent open peer review process, moving away from the traditional publishing process. Kamila Markram (presentation) of the OA publisher Frontiers presented metrics in the journal, and how all  frontiers journals all have an above average impact factors

The Panel Discussion addressed “Scholarly communication in five years: How to align and move forward? What are the priorities?”

Norbert Lossau, Vice-President of Göttingen University  and Chairperson of COAR, stressed that universities should take responsibility for institutional research output. He has also mentioned a Joint ARL/CARL/COAR/LIBER Task Force on Librarians’ Competencies in Support of E-Research and Scholarly Communication that provides organizational models for libraries to support new scholarly communication services.

Heather Joseph, SPARC Director commented that rapid transformation in scholarly communication has not happened, but new technologies highlighted pressure points in the scholarly communication. She suggested to look at scholarly communication as a series of building blocks, which we (scholarly communication agents) can take apart and put again together in the way that better serve our needs.

Giulia Ajmone Marsan of OECD provided an overview of the activities of Open Science working group at OECD, which is currently looking at impact of open access and open science on innovation, business development and society.

Greg Grefenstette (presentation) spoke about the importance of HAL – French national open access repository and emerging overlay journals publishing models practiced by INRIA: http://Episciences.org.

Jarkko Siren, EC, spoke about the need to increase data sharing and re-use of open access content commercially and non-commercially for innovations and solving societal challenges.

In conclusion..

An interactive event, conversation-rich, with a varied range of stakeholders. Discussions were often at a practical level about real OA implementation matters. There was much interest within Europe, and beyond, in collaboration with both OpenAIRE and COAR.

And by the way…

The conference was preceded by two pre-conference workshops: how to write a research data management plan, the outcome of which will provide some background support for the EC’s upcoming open research data pilot. (a short blog can be found here). The COAR working groups were represented in the ‘Breakfast Club’ groups.

Photos courtesy of: Vassilis Protonotarios, Marianna Votsika and Pedro Principe. Thanks!