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Towards a global knowledge commons

WACREN & COAR Partnership Announcement

COAR and WACREN are pleased to announce a new collaboration agreement to advance open access and open science in Africa.

Greater access to the results of research will contribute to improving the visibility and value of research outcomes. However, Africa is a large and very diverse continent and for open science to be adopted widely, services must reflect the variety of national and local priorities and needs in the region.

Through this agreement, COAR and WACREN have committed to working together to strengthen local, national and regional capacity and services for open science and open access. The agreement builds on the previous year’s work of the LIBSENSE project. This project, led by WACREN, with support from EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) and COAR, convened the high-speed networks (NRENs) and library communities in Africa in a series of workshops that helped to identify collaborative activities related to open science.

“African countries need to determine their own paths towards sustainable open access and open science”, says Boubakar Barry, Chief Executive Officer, WACREN, “We appreciate the expertise and input from COAR as we define our ‘made in Africa’ solutions”.

This agreement will see WACREN and COAR continue to collaborate through the LIBSENSE Initiative. COAR will contribute knowledge about global trends and technologies, provide expertise related to repositories and other open science services, and ensure WACREN is engaged at the international level. WACREN will provide its African perspectives to the international discussions convened by COAR.

“I very much look forward to building on the already productive relationship with WACREN”, says Kathleen Shearer, COAR Executive Director, “and to contributing to a strong African presence as open science progresses around the world.”

For more information, please contact Kathleen Shearer, Executive Director, COAR and Omo Oaiya, Chief Strategy Officer, WACREN

COAR (Confederation of Open Access Repositories) is an international association with over 140 members and partners from around the world representing libraries, universities, research institutions, government funders and others. COAR brings together the repository community and major repository networks in order to build capacity, align policies and practices, and act as a global voice for the repository community.

WACREN (West and Central African Research and Education Network) is a non-profit organisation registered in Ghana, with a mission to build and operate world-class network infrastructure, develop state of the art services, promote collaboration among national, regional, international research and education communities and build the capacity of the REN community.

Major repository networks agree to adopt common guidelines


Rio de Janeiro, November 25 & 26, 2015

Participants of the LA Referencia-OpenAIRE workshop
Participants of the LA Referencia-OpenAIRE workshop

There is growing recognition worldwide that our substantial global investments in research have much greater impact if they are widely shared and openly available to everyone. LA Referencia, OpenAIRE and COAR reaffirm their strong support for a shared vision of a global network of repositories as fundamental infrastructure for providing sustainable and open access to research outputs, ensuring that all researchers and citizens have access to the results of publicly funded research.

On November 25 and 26, 2015 representatives from LA Referencia, OpenAIRE and COAR met in Rio de Janeiro to discuss the adoption of common metadata guidelines for repository networks and identify areas for further collaboration. The meeting was hosted by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), along with Ibict (Instituto Brasileiro de Informação em Ciência e Tecnologia), and is part of the Aligning Repository Networks work being lead by COAR.

OpenAIRE and LA Referencia represent two of the most advanced regional networks of open access repositories in the world. Closer collaboration between these two networks will enhance the usability and visibility of the collective content in the networks and enable the development of value added services across the two regions.

The three organizations therefore resolve to pursue their common vision through the following activities:

  • LA Referencie and OpenAIRE will adopt common metadata practices, based on the current OpenAIRE guidelines and the vocabularies being developed in the context of COAR, for repository networks and develop these guidelines in collaboration.
  • COAR, LA Referencia, and OpenAIRE will explore ways to build capacity for managing repositories and repository networks in Latin America, particularly in terms of the implementation of best practices.
  • Under the auspices of COAR, LA Referencia, and OpenAIRE will continue to work with other national and regional networks to promote the vision of a global repository network and investigate common services in support of open access and open science.


LA Referencia is the network of open access repositories from eight Latin American countries. It supports national open access strategies in Latin America through shared lareferencia_openaire_workshop2015_mosaicostandards and a single discovery platform. LA Referencia harvests scholarly articles and theses & dissertations from national nodes, which, in turn, harvest from repositories at universities and research institutions. This initiative is based on technical and organizational agreements between public science and technology organizations (National Ministries and Science & Technology Departments) with RedCLARA.

OpenAIRE, funded by the European Commission under H2020, is the Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe, based on  the network of open access repositories.

Specific agreements:

  • The national nodes of LA Referencia will adopt the OpenAIRE Guidelines and, through LA Referencia, participate in the development of the guidelines with OpenAIRE as they evolve in the future.
  • LA Referencia will develop a strategy and launch communities of practice to facilitate sharing of expertise across participating countries and to support implementation of guidelines at local institutions.
  • LA Referencia, OpenAIRE and COAR will partner to develop a blended learning course to build capacity in managing repositories in Latin America.
  • LA Referencia and OpenAIRE will provide validators that will enable repositories to assess their level of compliance with the guidelines.


  • Amaro, Bianca – Ibict, Brazil
  • Amórtegui, Miguel Ángel – RENATA, Colombia
  • Apollaro, Alberto – Mincyt, Argentina
  • Azrilevich, Paola – LA Referencia/Mincyt, Argentina
  • Cabezas, Alberto – LA Referencia, Chile
  • Granados, Diana – Colciencias, Colombia
  • Labbé, Carmen Gloria – COAR/RedCLARA, Chile
  • Matas, Lautaro – LA Referencia, Argentina
  • Merino, Sonia Elsy – Min. de Educación, El Salvador
  • Muñoz, Patricia – CONACYT, Chile
  • Rasseli, Luiz Alberto – LA Referencia, Brazil
  • Recavarren, Isabel – Concytec, Peru
  • Ribeiro, Washington – Ibict, Brazil
  • Rodrigues, Eloy – OpenAIRE/COAR/ Minho University, Portugal
  • Shearer, Kathleen – COAR, Canada
  • Siguencia, Josefina – CEDIA, Ecuador

Strengthening international alignment of repository networks

Participants of the OpenAIRE General Assembly on November 19, 2015 in Ghent, Belgium. Picture by Daniela Tkačíková
Participants of the OpenAIRE General Assembly on November 19, 2015 in Ghent, Belgium. Picture by Daniela Tkačíková

Over the last year, as part of the Aligning Repository Networks activities, COAR has been continuing to work on facilitating communication and greater interoperability of the major repository networks. Key events included a high-level meeting of senior representatives from around the world in Portugal in April 2015, a meeting between OpenAIRE, SHARE and LA Referencia in the US in July, and most recently a joint workshop between COAR, OpenAIRE, and LA Referencia Council in Rio de Janeiro focusing on greater interoperability between Latin American and European repositories. This report summarizes activities over the past year and emphasizes the importance of ongoing conversations. This aligning work is partially funded by the European Commission through the OpenAIRE2020 project.

See the Aligning Repository Networks 2015 – Milestone Meeting Report.

Summary of the sustainable development goals e-forum discussion

In September, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) e-forum discussion took place, jointly organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and COAR.

Over the 12 days of the forum, participants engaged in discussions about the role of access to information (and open access) in sustainable development. Participants contributed numerous examples, illustrations, and case studies that demonstrate that access to information and open access improves peoples lives. Access to information and open access are cross-cutting issues that underpin most, likely all, of the SDG’s and should be seen as a critical element for being able to achieve them. Strategies for promoting access to information are diverse and depend to a large extent on the local environment. Clearly, advocating with national governments takes time, but can be successful. Despite our differences, the whole community could benefit from greater information sharing about experiences and success stories. The archive of the discussion is available here:

We had four presentations during the forum from: Stuart Hamilton, Jean Claude Guédon, Leslie Chan and Ellen Namhila. The recordings of all webinars are available on the FAO website here: We also received a short pre-recorded video that Ms. Amina Mohammed, Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning entitled, “SDGs and Access to Information”

One of the important things that became clear in the e-forum was that open access repositories have a very important role to play in supporting sustainable development across the world. Not only do they provide access to knowledge and information published in (often) “out of reach” subscription-based journals, they also contribute to the development of local infrastructure and capacity building at institutions around the world. They ensure that local knowledge is preserved in the context where it was originally created. We should not underestimate the value of the distributed network we are building towards the creation of a more sustainable, open knowledge commons.

Yet there is still work to be done. The international journal system, in which most researchers highly desire to publish for the prestige, skews national research agendas towards issues of importance to Western Europe and North America. Several of the presenters talked about repositories as mechanisms for addressing this issue and creating a more equitable system. But this means expanding the role of repositories beyond just providing access, towards adopting value added services such as peer review.

In the coming months, we’d like to further expand on the ideas around open access repositories and such value added services in order to assess whether they are feasible and have merit to our community. Any further thoughts from the community on this are most welcome.

Research Data Alliance First Plenary

The Research Data Alliance is an emerging international organization whose goal is to accelerate international data-driven innovation and discovery by facilitating research data sharing and exchange, use and re-use, standards harmonization, and discoverability. This will be achieved through the development and adoption of infrastructure, policy, practice, standards, and other deliverables.

The Research Data Alliance launch and first plenary took place in Gothenburg from 18 to 20 March 2013. At its first plenary, the RDA was launched by sponsors from the European Commission, the U. S. Government and the Australian Government and leaders in the data community.

Individuals representing stakeholders from the sciences, infrastructures, technology providers, libraries, etc. were present at the meeting. Major initiatives and organizations across the world were also represented, including LIBER, OpenAIRE and COAR (see list of participants)

The Plenary was a working meeting to accelerate discussion, Working and Interest Group interaction, and data community development. The true measure of the alliance’s work, will be the outcome of the efforts of the various working groups that are being assembled to evaluate and shape the research projects that they select in the future.

Interesting and relevant for our community were the formally established Working Groups [Data]Persistent Identifiers, Practical Policy Working Group and the discussions at the Interest Groups like Legal Interoperability, Metadata, Contextual Metadata, Repository Audit and Certification or Preservation e-Infrastructure. The importance of the repositories community contribution in those discussions was mentioned.

Different people with different interests gathered together in an “umbrella” interest group finally titled “Publishing Data”. Many related different issues arised in the discussion of this group, e.g. recommendations on data citations, workflows involved in data publication, linking data and publications, perhaps including data peer review. This “umbrella” might finally split in different interest groups and eventually in some Working Groups. But that has to be discussed over the next months. This could be a discussion to get involved.

All these Groups will report back the next RDA meeting, mid-September in Washington, on tangible results for the working groups, if some new working groups have materialize into specific actions from the Interest groups, and what ideas are still valid or not.

While throughout the speeches as well as in some groups there were allusions to the role of digital repositories, these mainly related to big data repositories and to data centers. In this sense, the data generated by the researchers in their institutions and universities as well as the role of the institutional repositories and repositories infrastructures to manage these data, was not clearly recognized.

There was a question upraised: a researcher, in his university, asking: “Where do I put that data that you declared in your data management plan is vital to the community?”

Major research universities are grappling with their response to the deluge of scientific data emerging through research by their faculty. This means addressing the challenges of the “long tail data” or “small data” Many are looking to their libraries and the institutional repository as a solution. Researchers, at research institutions and universities need a repository for collaboration and data publication and storage at all stages of the scientific endeavor. They need to be provided a workspace for work-in-progress, and for collaborative or large-scale projects.

And it was a general homage to the unsung hero, the data manager or data curator and a general agreement about the “desperate” need to train researchers, students, librarians and repository managers in the new skills and competencies required.

Both are some of the major issues the community of open access repositories can contribute to the global effort of the RDA Alliance community, and COAR can make it possible.