What’s new with COAR Notify – an update of the last six months
As the momentum for new, more transparent and equitable models of scholarly publishing grows, so does community interest in journal independent and open peer review, overlay journals, and other types of innovative publishing platforms that together make up a rapidly evolving ecosystem that combines rapid dissemination and quality control in a distributed way. These models offer viable alternatives to traditional journals by distributing the functions of publishing across different systems (e.g. repository and peer review/overlay journal), potentially reducing both the technical and cost burdens of publishing. COAR Notify is an essential enabler in this context, because it provides a standard, interoperable mechanism for linking related resources across the ecosystem. In the second half of 2023, we have made steady progress towards our aims of accelerating the adoption of COAR Notify. Our activities fall into three broad categories: (1) supporting technical development of platforms and services, (2) refining and documenting the COAR Notify protocol, and (3) community engagement. Below is a summary of our work over the last six months.
Two major implementation projects have new, production-ready working implementations of COAR Notify. In early December, it was announced that authors who deposit their preprints into bioRxiv and SciELO Preprints can now send a request for review to the open review service, PREreview. The aim is to expand the functionality to other partner services such as eLife, medRxiv, Kotahi and Sciety in the coming months to serve three workflows in the ‘publish, review, curate’ ecosystem: author-driven requests for open, community-led peer review of their preprint; journal-driven requests for open, community-led peer review of a manuscript or preprint; and the ingestion and display of aggregated preprint reviews from multiple sources. As explained in the full announcement “the interactions between these platforms provide an ideal scenario for the adoption of COAR Notify, which can support existing communications and allow them to scale beyond the current partners”. More information is available in this blog post.
Another COAR Notify implementation between HAL, the French national repository and Episciences, a platform that hosts overlay journals has also recently gone live. Authors who deposit a preprint in HAL for submission to one of the journals hosted by Episciences can now select the journal directly from the deposit form. HAL will then use COAR Notify to send a message to Episcience with a request for publication in that journal. The broader aim is to develop and deploy all the functionalities necessary to link HAL and Episciences on the one hand, and HAL and Peer Community In (PCI), which already has a working implementation of COAR Notify. HAL implementers note, “simplifying and streamlining processes for researchers this functionality also paves the way for other types of exchange focusing on different objects, such as the link between publication and research data”. You can read more in this blog post.
In addition to these implementations, the COAR Notify team continues to work on developing implementation plans with other potential adopters with the aim of launching several new projects in early 2024.
Open source platform development
In order to increase the availability and impact of COAR Notify, we aim to support adoption in widely used, open source platforms for repositories and review services. There are now several open source platforms that have implemented – or are in the process of implementing – COAR Notify. In particular, development in DSpace is well underway and we expect that a plug-in will be available in the first half of 2024 for DSpace 7.X, with the aim of having COAR Notify implemented into the main codebase in version 8.X. In addition, Kotahi, the open-source platform used by eLife and others for managing the submission and review of preprints, is in the process of implementing COAR Notify. These two platforms will join Dataverse as the early open-source adopters of COAR Notify in 2024 and we expect several others to follow suit in the coming year.
Repositories, platforms and services that support exchanges using COAR Notify are encouraged to post this logo on their user interface in order to indicate that the functionality is available in their systems.
COAR Notify Protocol
The COAR Notify Protocol, which defines the format and type of information that is shared in the COAR Notify messages, has remained relatively stable over the last 6 months, despite the challenge of ensuring interoperability and standardisation while also supporting a growing number of use cases. Each implementation scenario has slightly different requirements that need to be carefully considered and rationalised by the COAR Notify team and with implementing partners, to ensure they can be represented by existing patterns documented in the protocol.
COAR Notify Validator
In order to provide additional support to implementation partners, the project team developed the COAR Notify Validator. The Validator is implemented in the form of a Linked Data Notification (LDN) Inbox that developers can use as a test environment to evaluate their LDN capabilities. The Validator accepts LDNs from partners and provides real-time feedback on the syntactic and semantic correctness of the notifications’ payload. The Validator is available as a web service and the source code is openly available for partners interested in a local deployment.
There is a growing awareness of the value of COAR Notify to support innovation in the scholarly communications ecosystem. The COAR Notify team has been very active in promoting the initiative through various venues. In addition to one-on-one meetings with key potential implementers, team members have delivered numerous presentations including at the Diamond OA meeting in Toluca, Mexico, where they also presented a poster that visualises a typical publishing workflow involving COAR Notify. See the poster here.
Coming Soon in 2024
In the next phase of the project, we will continue to actively engage with the community and work with new implementing partners to support the adoption of the COAR Notify technology. We will also embark on several new activities. One of these will be to launch a catalogue of Notify-enabled services and platforms to facilitate their discovery. The requirements have already been articulated and in 2024 we will begin development of the catalogue using standard agile development methods. In addition, we will develop and maintain a set of software libraries that contains reusable code for a variety of commonly-used programming languages. This will enable new implementers to find and reuse existing code making the adoption of COAR Notify a little bit easier.
As with all resources created through the COAR Notify project, these new tools will be openly available to the community. You can access all COAR Notify resources here:
If you have any questions or are interested in getting involved, please get in touch with kathleen.shearer(at)coar-repositories.org