The mainstream system for research communications, which was built in the print age and has not evolved to meet the changing needs of the research community, is far from ideal and does not serve well the needs of research or society. The shortcomings are well known and include:
- Long delays from submission to publication for articles and monographs
- High costs for both to access publications through subscriptions, and to publish through article processing charges
- Overlooked contributions with too much focus on the article or book as the final research product, rather than recognizing the full range of relevant contributions, such as data, metadata, preprints, and protocols
- Lack of transparency in peer review and quality control mechanisms
- Significant biases towards the interests of the global north and trendy research topics
These issues contribute to a sub-optimal communications milieu in which research efforts are hampered because investigators cannot access the full corpus of literature in their field, cannot text and data mine to extract new knowledge; and research findings are not available and cannot be readily adopted by other actors in society.
To address these issues, COAR has been promoting a new and exciting future for scholarly communications,
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.
This vision was first outlined in the COAR Next Generation Repositories Initiative and further articulated in the Pubfair White Paper, which describes a distributed framework for open publishing services.
In 2020, COAR published a generic technical model to enable the linking of preprints and other repository resources with external services, with an initial focus on peer review services. The technical model – which was developed based on a number of use cases provided by preprint servers, repositories, peer review services and overlay journals – applies a distributed, message-oriented approach based on W3C Linked Data Notifications (LDN).
In January 2021, COAR launched the Notify: The Repositories and Services Interoperability Project to assist early adopters in implementing a common and interoperable model that will support reviews and endorsements on distributed resources in repositories, preprints and archives.