Library Awarded Project as part of Ireland’s National Action Plan for Open Research 2022-2030

The National Action Plan for Open Research 2022-2030 was launched 21 November by the National Open Research Forum (NORF). The University of Galway was awarded €220,000 to lead Action 2 on Open Access (OA) Repository Assessment and Alignment. This work is a key project to lead the national transition to open research as part of a national action plan.

Open access repositories are typically operated by research active institutions to openly publish their own research. For example, the library provides a suite of open publishing platforms. The platform involved in this project is the open access publications and data repository, ARAN. This project starts a national programme of repository alignment and takes steps to develop a standardised national approach while aligning infrastructure with international best practice

The Library is working with 13 national partners to deliver on this collective vision during the two-year project. The partners are the University of Limerick, Maynooth University, Marine Institute, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, Queen’s University Belfast, Atlantic Technological University, SETU Carlow Campus, Teagasc, Health Library Ireland, Health Service Executive, and RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences. There are more national stakeholders that will contribute to this project via audits, workshops, surveys, interviews, and being part of the collective community. We fully acknowledging that all Irish OA repositories and people will contribute and ideally be part of the community being fostered. However, for the project itself we had to limit the partners to a manageable group.

Project deliverables 

The project will audit the Irish OA repository landscape, work with national experts, stakeholders, and repository staff. We will propose and agree a national metadata standard for OA repositories, manage the work to pilot the metadata standard in a selection of OA repositories, manage a feasibility pilot of bulk imports of data from publishers and other sources, and, finally, help develop and agree a national roadmap for OA repositories in Ireland. The following are the main deliverables: 
  • A database/inventory of repositories.  
  • An audit report on existing practices for Irish repositories to identify strengths, gaps, and potential costs to fill gaps  
  • An agreed and published national roadmap for OA repositories  
  • An agreed metadata implementation standard for research publications  
  • A cost report to bring national OA repositories to an agreed national standard from a technical, content, and workflow perspective  
  • A set of community guidelines for metadata implementation  
  • A governance approach to oversee compliance and quality in OA repositories  
  • Guides to implement common and best-practice standards for technical infrastructure and service provision within the network  
  • Pilot implementation in repositories  
  • Feasibility study for bulk importing metadata from commercial publishers or other sources.  

The problem 

The current issue, in brief, is that most Irish OA repositories take different approaches to metadata and have different methods of service management and delivery – and strategy. This variation poses significant challenges when we aim to present ourselves as a coherent collective internationally. Our approach to metadata is different and this effects how effectively we can work together. This project will start the journey to address these challenges by agreeing a robust metadata standard for interoperability of Irish repositories. Put another way, the project will align repositories by using the same metadata standard (the same fields) and at the granular level of data (ensuring the same type of data entered in the same way). It means, for example, author names are controlled and added in the same way in all Irish OA repositories.  

The plan at a high level is to 1) audit where we are now (to quantify the problem), 2) benchmark and align what we are doing (using international best practice and tools), 3) agree on a new approach to metadata, 4) pilot and test that approach while 5) creating a national roadmap for open access repositories. 

The impact 

The impact of the project will be seen in three areas: 
  1. repositories will have better quality metadata, with interoperability between members. There will also be an alignment to existing data standards, such as use of Persistent Identifiers (PIDs) in metadata 
  2. by aligning to a national roadmap, new repositories will have access to a template to join the network and ideally fast track their implementation 
  3.  improved repositories and their metadata will provide a streamlined gateway to national and international research platforms and aggregators. 

Internationally we will be coherent and organised while favourably positioning Irish research to a world audience. 

Importantly, rather than flattening Ireland’s repository ecosystem through a single infrastructure, this project aims to lower potential barriers of entry through a standardised approach to metadata, support, and discovery. This is more important now with the broadening of the national Higher Education landscape, and this project strengthens the research and innovation capacity across all national institutions. 

Next steps 

We are setting up the project and expect to be engaging with all national stakeholders in early 2023 to take part in the national audit. This is a key step to quantify the landscape to plan more exacting solutions. Also, expect community building from the project and engagement in drafting and reviewing the national metadata standard. We will soon seek applications for the appointment of a NORF Open Access (OA) Repositories Project Manager at the University of Galway Library for this project. 

Finally, a big thank you to the project partners, whose collective vision drove us this point and will continue delivering via this project. Thank you to NORF, of course, and our own institutions who see the value and benefits in us working together on this project. This is one of six national action plan open research funded projects that will run in parallel and will complement each other. This is just the start of the transition to open research, I think we are all on this journey together. 

National action plan and government support 

The National Action Plan outlines objectives and actions for the next chapter in Ireland’s transition towards open research. The plan was prepared by NORF and supports national strategic priorities for research and innovation under Impact 2030: Ireland’s Research and Innovation Strategy. The National Action Plan builds on a number of national policies and international recommendations and serves as a roadmap for the implementation of open research across Ireland. Implementation will be overseen by NORF and delivered under Impact 2030: Ireland’s Research and Innovation Strategy with the support of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research Innovation and Science (DFHERIS). Minister Simon Harris welcomed the launch of the Open Research Action Plan. Speaking on November 21, Minister Harris said: 

“Open research is essential for us all to learn from each other. It improves access and transparency”.  

“It provides benefits for researchers, research communities, research institutions, governments, industry, and society more generally”.  

The National Action Plan builds on the 2019 publication of Ireland’s National Framework on the Transition to an Open Research Environment and is aligned with policy recommendations from organisations including the European Commission and UNESCO. The Plan strengthens national commitments to open research, including Ireland’s contribution to the European Research Area (ERA) Policy Agenda and the ERA priority action to enable the open sharing of knowledge and the re-use of research outputs. 

View the national action plan launch event recording and slides.

About the Author 

Cillian Joy is the lead for the project, Action 2 on Open Access (OA) Repository Assessment and Alignment, and works in the University of Galway Library on Open and Digital Research.