Next Generation Repositories (NGRs) is an ongoing initiative of COAR to identify common behaviours, protocols and technologies that will enable new and improved functionalities for repository systems.
The widespread deployment of repository systems in higher education and research institutions provides the foundation for a distributed, globally networked infrastructure for scholarly communication. However, in order to leverage the value of the repository network, we need to equip repositories with a wider array of roles and functionalities, which can be enabled through new levels of web-centric interoperability. In addition, to develop value added services on top of the distributed repository nework, the different repository platforms need to adopt a set of common technologies, protocols and behaviours.
In November 2017, COAR published the first Next Generation Repositories report which contains a list of 19 technologies and protocols for repository systems. The recommendations are based on a wide array of user stories and behaviours that were vetted and prioritized by the repository community.
Our vision 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.
Since then, COAR has been working with the community to have the recommendations adopted in the major open source platforms; to profile and pilot value added services; and continues to monitor new technologies on the horizon.
Distribution of control
Distributed control, or governance, of scholarly resources (pre-prints, post-prints, research data, supporting software, etc.) and scholarly infrastructures is an important principle which underpins this work. Without this, a small number of actors can gain too much control and can establish a quasi-monopolistic position. Distributed networks are more sustainable and at less risk to buy-out or failure.
Inclusiveness and diversity
Different institutions and regions have unique and particular needs and contexts (e.g diverse language, policies and priorities). A distributed network of repositories will aim to reflect and be responsive to the different needs and contexts of different regions, disciplines and countries.
The technologies, architectures and protocols adopted in the context of the global network for repositories will be available to everyone, using global standards when they are available.
Intelligent openness and accessibility
Scholarly resources will be made openly available and in accessible formats, whenever possible, in order increase their value and maximize their re-use for the benefit for scholarship and society.
Institutions and research organizations will be major participants in the global network, contributing to the long term sustainability of resources.
Repositories will adopt common behaviours, functionalities and standards ensuring interoperability across institutions and enabling them to engage in a common way with external service providers
Focus on the resources themselves, not just associated metadata
For historical reasons, technical solutions have focused on metadata that describes scholarly resources instead of on the resources themselves. By considering both the scholarly resource and its metadata as web resources identified by distinct URIs, they can be treated on equal footing and can be appropriately interlinked.
Given the choice, we favour the simpler approach. Where possible, we choose technologies, solutions and paradigms which are already widely deployed. In practical terms, this means that we prefer using standard Web technologies wherever possible.
Evolution, not revolution
We prefer to evolve solutions, adjusting existing software and systems that are already widely deployed across the world to better exploit the ubiquitous Web environment within which they are situated.
Convention over configuration
We favour the adoption of widely recognised conventions and standards, and encourage everyone to use these where possible, rather than accommodating richer, more complex and varied approaches. New standards should be introduced only when concrete and pragmatic needs arise, with the intention of keeping constraints to a minimum so that those implementing our systems can readily understand the constraints under which they must operate.
Engage with users where they are
Instead of always asking users to leave their environment and engage with one of our systems, we want to integrate tools into the environments and systems where users are already engaged.
The NGR Expert Group provides support for the implementation of NGR technologies, helps with profiling use cases, and continues to monitor the environment for new technologies.
- Andrea Bollini (4Science, Italy)
- Martin Klein (Los Alamos National Laboratory, US)
- Petr Knoth (Jisc and Open University, UK)
- Eloy Rodrigues (COAR/University of Minho, Portugal)
- Kathleen Shearer (COAR, Canada)
- Herbert Van de Sompel (Austria)
- Paul Walk (COAR/Antleaf, UK)
- David Wilcox (Duraspace/Fedora, Canada)
- Kazu Yamaji (National Institute of Informatics, Japan)