Greater interoperability across metadata standards and guidelines will improve discovery and enable the development of more sophisticated cross-repository services such as tracking research outputs and text mining. A Working Group of representatives from various networks was formed in 2015. They began by characterizing two priority use cases and identifying the metadata elements that are required to realize those use cases. The existing schemas were then compared across the metadata elements to identify differences and commonalities in approaches. This work has been done in conjunction with CASRAI in order to begin to establish greater interoperability between repositories and research information systems. COAR is currently re-evaluating this work, to ensure that this is the most effective means for moving towards harmonization.


October 1 , 2014

Kathleen Shearer (COAR) and David Baker (CASRAI)

Open access (OA) repositories are becoming key components of the research infrastructure. They provide open access to the products of research and reflect an emerging commitment by research institutions towards the stewardship of the research outputs. Repositories are also becoming an important source of administrative information for governments, funding agencies and for tracking research outputs and assessing the impact of the research they support.

As science becomes increasingly global, distributed and cross-disciplinary, repository infrastructures should mirror the needs of the research community and enable researchers, regardless of location or disciplinary practice, to access research outputs worldwide. All efforts should be made to avoid silos, which act as barriers to the usability of content.

Over the past several years, a number of regional and national OA repository networks have emerged. These networks have been developed to fulfill different requirements and they have adopted a variety of metadata standards and vocabularies. Current standards/guidelines include OAI-PMH, OpenAIRE guidelines, RIOXX, and others. These standards/guidelines define both the format by which repositories expose their metadata and also how they articulate various elements in their collections such as output type, publication date, access status, funder and grant IDs, embargo periods, re-use conditions, and so on.

Greater interoperability across these metadata standards and guidelines will improve discovery and enable the development of more sophisticated cross-repository services such as usage statistics or content analysis by text mining. In addition, a shared  understanding and common approaches to vocabularies and metadata will provide uniform information to governments and funding agencies about the products of funded research, and build confidence with users and stakeholders.

The aim of this working group is to develop a blueprint that will outline the steps needed to ensure greater interoperability across repository networks, and ideally with other related systems and actors as well (publishers, CRIS, etc.). The group will commence its work in Oct 2014 via a mix of teleconference and online collaboration tools and aim to have a completed plan by March 2015.

The Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) will act as convener of the working group. COAR is an international organization of repository initiatives with members from around the world. This initiative will build on the work that COAR has already been doing in the area of interoperability. COAR currently has an Interoperability Working Group that is publishing a roadmap identifying the community priorities for further work on interoperability. COAR also has an interest group working on common vocabularies. In March 2014, COAR launched an initiative to align the major regional repository networks. This blueprint activity will expand the discussion to include a broader range of stakeholders.

CASRAI will facilitate the process of developing the blueprint. CASRAI (Consortia Advancing Standards in Research Administration Information) is a non-profit standards development organization. CASRAI develops and maintains a common data dictionary and advances best practices for data exchange and reuse between research teams, institutions, and funding agencies. CASRAI has experience with developing international standards and approaches in the area of research information system.

Members of the working group will be representatives from major repository networks, research administrative systems, and other stakeholder communities. Working group members are committed to adopting the recommendations outlined in the final blueprint. The networks will engage with their local constituents to ensure awareness and participation in discussions.

The working group will be comprised of representatives from:

  • COAR
  • EuroCRIS
  • Jisc/UK
  • La Referencia
  • OpenAIRE
  • NISO Open Access Metadata and Indicators Working Group

A review circle with broader representation will be launched to provide guidance and input at milestones


For more information, please contact Kathleen Shearer, Executive Director of COAR.