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Next Generation Repositories: Behaviours and Technical Recommendations of the COAR Next Generation Repositories Working Group

Rodrigues, Eloy; Bollini, Andrea; Cabezas, Alberto; Castelli, Donatella; Carr, Les; Chan, Leslie; Humphrey, Chuck; Johnson, Rick; Knoth, Petr; Manghi, Paolo; Matizirofa, Lazarus; Perakakis, Pandelis; Schirrwagen, Jochen; Selematsela, Daisy; Shearer, Kathleen; Walk, Paul; Wilcox, David; Yamaji, Kazu

The widespread deployment of repository systems in higher education and research institutions provides the foundation for a distributed, globally networked infrastructure for scholarly communication. However, repository platforms are still using technologies and protocols designed almost twenty years ago, before the boom of the Web and the dominance of Google, social networking, semantic web and ubiquitous mobile devices. This is, in large part, why repositories have not fully realized their potential and function mainly as passive recipients of the final versions of their users’ conventionally published research outputs. In order to leverage the value of the repository network, we need to equip it with a wider array of roles and functionalities, which can be enabled through new levels of web-centric interoperability.

In April 2016, COAR launched the Next Generation Repositories Working Group to identify the core functionalities for the next generation of repositories, as well as the architectures and technologies required to implement them. This report presents the results of work by this group over the last 1.5 years.

Our vision is to position repositories as the foundation for a distributed, globally networked infrastructure for scholarly communication, on top of which layers of value added services will be deployed, thereby transforming the system, making it more research-centric, open to and supportive of innovation, while also collectively managed by the scholarly community.”

The next generation repository...

  • manages and provides access to a wide diversity of resources, including published articles, pre-prints, datasets, working papers, images, software, and so on.
  • is resource-centric, making resources the focus of its services and infrastructure
  • is a networked repository. Cross-repository connections are established by introducing bi-directional links as a result of an interaction between resources in different repositories, or by overlay services that consume activity metadata exposed by repositories
  • is machine-friendly, enabling the development of a wider range of global repository services, with less development effort 
  • is active and supports versioning, commenting, updating and linking across resources 

The Next Generation Repositories Working Group has explicitly focused on the generic technologies required by all repositories to support the adoption of common behaviours. However, we also recognize that there are other technologies and standards that may be useful for specific content types or disciplinary communities.

This report describes 11 new behaviours, as well as the technologies, standards and protocols that will facilitate the development of new services on top of the collective network, including social networking, peer review, notifications, and usage assessment.

  1. Exposing Identifiers
  2. Declaring Licenses at a Resource Level
  3. Discovery through Navigation
  4. Interacting with Resources (Annotation, Commentary and Review)
  5. Resource Transfer
  6. Batch Discovery
  7. Collecting and Exposing Activities
  8. Identification of Users
  9. Authentication of Users
  10. Exposing Standardized Usage Metrics
  11. Preserving Resources

The behaviours and technologies in this report are a snapshot of the current status of technology, standards and protocols available, but we are aware that technologies will continue to evolve. To that end, we will soon be publishing the behaviours and technologies in a GitHub repository to support updates, as well as enabling greater input and engagement with the broader community as technologies evolve or new technologies come onto the scene.

In conclusion, the distributed network of repositories can and should be a powerful tool to promote the transformation of the scholarly communication ecosystem, making it more research-centric, innovative, while also managed by the scholarly community. However, this vision rests on the notion that repositories behave (or function) in common ways, and interact with external services in the same manner. As such, it is important that the technologies, standards and protocols defined here are widely accepted and adopted by repositories around the world.

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