Research and repository… a happy combinasion?

Back to basics: what is "open?" "Open knowledge is any content, information or data that people are free to use, re-use and redistribute- without any legal, technological or social restriction" (Open Knowledge International). From a scholarly perpective, solutions are here to make content (publications, data, projects, expertises...) more discoverable, reusable and visible. 

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Are open science and specifically open access really bearing fruit?

As you may know as a researcher or science lover, making science open and visible is more than useful, it is essential. The open science movement is reaping what it sows, and we can already see some concrete successful models. ArXiv and  bioarxiv are two great examples of the community sharing and interacting with each other.  The success of the platform How Can I Share It is another prime example of the industry working together to share properly copyrighted material.

Having influential research is a not always a personal choice: embargo and copyright questions are few examples of brakes scientists meet daily. Did you know, for instance, that about 20% of publications get 90% of all citations? Does that mean the other 80% of publications are bad science and can’t be used by other researchers? Of course not. They’re just less visible – harder to find – although they can be of very high quality.

Uploading your publications and other work to your repository platform makes it automatically visible by those working in the same field of research. Other researchers, PhD students or people from industry can also reuse elements of your research, can connect with you to discuss your work and – who knows? – even keep in touch for future professional collaborations. Studies have already shown that sharing your research online increases citations by around 22% (Kullman, 2014), and your repository platform is the easiest way to start.

An European initiative for open access

The H2020 open access program, as well as other funders and many countries in Europe, are pushing the open access agenda by requesting that all funded researchers share their research freely. This requires the institutions to realize several fundamental transitions. They are more aware of the importance of research visibility and the potential of industrial collaborations. They also can observe a new trend of researchers using social media, blogs, collaborative tools to communicate their research and collaborate without geographical barriers.

Research institutions in the EU and beyond are under-equipped with the tools necessary to share and disseminate their research effectively, to manage and increase the efficiency of their research communication activities, and to track their performance. They spend large amounts of money on annual journal subscriptions (€100k + per year, given average prices for 15 top journals of €1,000+ per year). While getting scarce funds sucked out to finance pay-per-download, closed-access publishing systems, research institutions also earn funds from selling their research. This makes the transition to open access difficult, even though it is often becoming a requirement to gain research money funded by the public.

Open source and libraries… a new love story.

We already said how open access is great and necessary for the citizens of the world in a previous editorial. You love and practice it as much as possible. Good. Let’s talk about open source…  The term "open source" refers to something people can modify and share because its design is publicly accessible.

The term originated in the context of software development to designate a specific approach to creating computer programs. Open source projects, products, or initiatives embrace and celebrate principles of open exchange, collaborative participation, rapid prototyping, transparency, meritocracy, and community-oriented development.

For your digital library, it is more than a geek thing: this is the opportunity to have repositories managed by institutions themselves to keep control. The big thing is how universities can keep independence from publishers and avoid crisis like Beprexit in USA last year. So far, to stay up-to-date with the new technologies and integrate their activities into the global community, universities need partners integrated in both the web ecosystem and the research industry.

There are not many tools that support open access publication, open data management, and dissemination for researchers. It is cumbersome for researchers to compare different publication options (gold, green), to find the best price/performance ratio, to make sure their publications and data sets are discoverable by their community, and to maintain a list of publications on their personal profile, etc.

Independently of the states of practices nowadays, the development of popular repositories software projects prove that another way of collaboration is possible: the OAI (Open Archives Initiative) and OAI-PMH (Protocol for Metadata Harvesting) allows the interoperability of such repositories.

What is the next generation of repository?

The next generation of repository is… surely open, independent, and sustainable.
The next generation of repository is… connected to the world: data to and from existing information systems.
The next generation of repository is… collaborative: whatever the department you are working in, you don’t work on your own, but join forces to work faster and further. Research, Innovation, Communication, Library ... each department has a common framework but requires access to information through dedicated interfaces.

Last but not least, the next generation of repository is data oriented. It is more than an option, it is a requirement (look at our first editorial about it).

The equation is simple: open access + open source + open data make research visible and will pay off in the long run. The keywords are visibility, collaboration, and knowledge share for a better (more scholarly) world.