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EU puts heat on making knowledge travel. CGIAR contributes!

A hot air balloon is another way to travel. As more heat is applied, the air in the balloon warms and expands, making the balloon lift, taking its contents with it into the open air.

I don’t know if this was what the European Union (EU) had in mind when it created OpenAIRE (Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe), a project  funded within the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)–but it is definitely putting some heat on the topic of open access, as a way of making sure knowledge of various types really travels.

A passion for open access

The EU is currently concerned with making sure that research from the EU and EU funding is available and accessible. It considers it very important that there be full and open access to scientific papers by other researchers, practitioners and even the general public. According to Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda:

“The launch of OpenAIRE marks a very concrete step towards sharing the results of EU funded research to our mutual benefit. Scientific information has the power to transform our lives for the better – it is too valuable to be locked away. In addition, every EU citizen has the right to access and benefit from knowledge produced using public funds.” [EC Press release (Brussels, 2 December 2010)]

OpenAIRE aims to support the implementation of Open Access in Europe. It provides the means to promote and realize the widespread adoption of the Open Access Policy, as set out by the European Research Council Scientific Council Guidelines for Open Access and the Open Access pilot launched by the European Commission.

The importance of this was nicely described on the OpenAire website with a quote from Daniela Tkacikova & Pavla Rygelova, Technical University of Ostrava, Czech Republic:

…a great opportunity to promote OA ideas to the research community and research policy makers, as well as to begin to build necessary infrastructure for depositing scholarly outputs arising from EC funded projects (not only) in our country. “

Taking to the open air(e)

With the launch of OpenAIRE (Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe), a three-year project, EU researchers, businesses and citizens can have free and open access to EU-funded research papers.  OpenAIRE will provide a network of open repositories providing free online access to knowledge produced by scientists receiving grants from the Seventh Framework programme (FP7) and the European Research Council, especially in the fields of health, energy, environment, parts of Information & Communication Technology and research infrastructures, social sciences, humanities and science in society.

According to its website, OpenAIRE’s three main objectives are to

i. build support structures for researchers in depositing FP7 research publications through the establishment of the European Helpdesk and the outreach to all European member states through the operation and collaboration of 27 National Open Access Liaison Offices;

ii. establish and operate an electronic infrastructure for handling peer-reviewed articles as well as other important forms of publications (pre-prints or conference publications). This is achieved through a portal that is the gateway to all user-level services offered by the e-Infrastructure established, including access (search and browse) to scientific publications and other value-added functionality (post authoring tools, monitoring tools through analysis of document and usage statistics);

iii. work with several subject communities to explore the requirements, practices, incentives, workflows, data models, and technologies to deposit, access, and otherwise manipulate research datasets of various forms in combination with research publications.

Don’t forget the data!

So as the third objective points out, the EU is not only concerned with research publications but is also committed to finding ways to make open and available the supporting resources that go along with those publications such as datasets. So an additional set of activities were specifically designed to look into this issue of opening access to data.

These activities are focused on exploring what it is that prevents data from being made accessible at the time of the publication of results. It will look at the opportunities and hindrances to sharing data.

To do this, the OpenAIRE project is involving a number of organisations that receive funding for research from the EU to develop an innovative ‘chapter’ on its website, providing information about opening access to data, through the lens of key case studies within those organisations.

The CGIAR story

There has also been a growing interest and set of activities within the CGIAR on opening access in general, and also specifically on data.  There have been initiatives such as a Research Data Managament meeting held in 2008 in Rome, a number of Centres starting to pilot and adopt open access data repositories, and the CGIAR is also involved in the framework on data and information sharing of the global initiative on coherence in information for agricultural research for development (CIARD) .

OpenAIRE chose a number of organisations as partners to represent specific subject domains, with the CGIAR chosen to cover the agricultural domain. The CGIAR will therefore have an opportunity to tell its story about opening access to data. The CGIAR ICT-KM team is facilitating the CGIAR’s contribution to this project with the help of a group of colleagues  dedicated to communicating with people across the CGIAR, collecting information and writing it up into the ‘story’. The story will include:

  1. A case narrative about the CGIAR and its agricultural research including a number of case studies of data collection, management and sharing from across the CGIAR.
  2. Current status of research infrastructure workflows and research life cycle, focusing on specific aspects of the data management life cycle in the CGIAR.
  3. Current status of OA policies in the CGIAR and the status of OA to literature.
  4. Current status of OA to data: we will list those data collections in the CGIAR that are publicly available.
  5. Challenges to opening access to data in the CGIAR.
  6. Future directions and opportunities for opening access to data in the CGIAR.

If you have any information on any of the sections outlined above, we would be very happy to hear from you and get you involved.

For the case narrative (point number 1 above), we will be exploring a number of case studies of how data is collected, managed and shared towards open access in the CGIAR. Initial ideas for case studies include:

  • Case study on household survey data
  • Case study on genetic data
  • Case study on spatial data

…but we are open to additional ideas on case studies to pursue and the people with whom to find out the right information for our ‘story’.

Since many have already been discussing and taking steps towards open access in the CGIAR of publications and also data, this project serves as a great opportunity to showcase our ideas and activities, and to contribute to the EU’s aim to send scientific knowledge into the open air(e) where people can access it.

Photo credits:

Thumbnail Uploaded by myads at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1209864

Some of the information in this blog about the OpenAIRE project was taken or modified from the OpenAIRE website.