Open in order to Connect

This year’s Open Access Week prompts us to think about the “whys and whats” of Open Access: The theme “Open in order to __________” is an invitation to share why we are working in open access and what we want to achieve.

An important part of our work at Jisc is to explore emerging technologies and how they can be developed to suit the needs of our members and the wider research and education sector. Our aim is to help the UK become the world leader in digitally enabled research and education. For this, Open Science is an important transition – one towards which we work closely with research communities, content providers, publishers, and many other stakeholders. In his blog post, Frank Manista, Jisc’s European Open Science Manager, explains how we contribute to the development of Europe’s open access research infrastructure as part of the OpenAIRE 2020 project. Here, I want to discuss a related OpenAIRE project: OpenAIRE-Connect.

What is OpenAIRE-Connect for?

In OpenAIRE-Connect we collaborate with ten European partners to explore the future of open science. Together, our goal is to take an experimental look into connected services that could drive open science over the next 3 to 5 years. Until the project end in mid-2019, we want to explore two dimensions:

First, Connect stands for the project’s objective to develop and pilot technologies which could significantly advance open access through a better exchange and linking of very diverse research artefacts. Research artefacts can be publications, but also data sets, methodology documentations, software, videos, audio files, and many more. We want to develop solutions that would allow us to easily distribute and exchange data on all these outputs.

Second, Connect also implies that we seek to facilitate exchange between a variety of research communities, content providers, and technical infrastructures. In order to bridge silos, we engage five interdisciplinary research communities, content providers, publishers, and service providers in the development and pilots.

By working simultaneously on both dimensions, we hope to facilitate a more connected, joined-up research environment. For open access, which is largely limited to publications today, this could be a dramatic change with many benefits: e.g. more transparent and reproducible research (for researchers); more interdisciplinary research (for research communities); more accurate and comprehensive reporting (for research managers); and more comprehensive preservation of research outputs (for repository managers).

How does OpenAIRE-Connect work?

In practical terms, OpenAIRE-Connect extends the existing OpenAIRE infrastructure in two central ways: first, if successful, a new Research Community Dashboard will allow researchers and repository managers to manually create links to connect research artefacts through the OpenAIRE portal. Second, we are working to expand the existing OpenAIRE Literature Broker Service to become a Catch-All Broker (CAB) with the ability to automatically collect records and send deduplicated notifications on various research artefacts. Furthermore, we also explore how the CAB could interoperate with and contribute to other services, such as Jisc’s Publications Router.

Subscribers of the CAB can be, but are not limited to, institutional repositories, research aggregators, publishers, and researchers. They would receive new or supplementary notifications, e.g. when a dataset or software code relating to a publication is published. On the backend, the CAB system would be able to deduplicate records and automatically infer how different artefacts are related. In case the system misses an entry or if information has been incorrectly linked, subscribers would be able to easily alter existing links – or claim new ones. We envision that these tools will help to build a more connected, comprehensive open science data infrastructure.

Next steps

While working with partners and members to develop new services and enhancements it’s essential they are aligned with other services, technologies, and policies, both internally and externally. We therefore collaborate with initiatives such as the European Open Science Cloud (EOSCPilot), Research Data Shared Service, Jisc’s Publications Router, and other OpenAIRE projects. Our strategical goal is to make sure that these very different services and initiatives are developed according to common principles and standards. This way, we aim to make sure that our members, especially researchers and those who support them, can benefit from a more efficient and integrated environment, saving time, and opening new opportunities.

In the spring next year, OpenAIRE-Connect will roll out a number of pilots to test the Research Community Dashboard and the Catch-All Broker. Watch this space for further information. If you are looking for more information or want to discuss how these services could work for you get in touch with us via leo.mack@jisc.ac.uk. We would love to hear from you!

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