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The OpenAIRE-Connect Project

Post by Paolo Manghi and Franco Zoppi,  Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), Institute of Information Science and Technologies (ISTI)

On Enabling Open Science “as-a-Service”

Open Science is an emerging vision, a way of thinking, whose challenges always gaze beyond its actual achievements. Today, the effective implementation of Open Science calls for a scientific communication ecosystem capable of enabling Open Science publishing principles. The ecosystem should allow research communities to share (for “discovery” and “transparent evaluation”) and re-use (for “reproducibility”) their scientific results by publishing all intermediary and final research artefacts, beyond scientific literature. Artefacts can be research data and research methods (e.g. software, workflows, protocols, scripts, algorithms, etc.), should be deposited in content providers for scientific communication (e.g. institutional repositories, data archives, software repositories, CRIS systems), and should be published together with the semantic links between them. To complete the picture, such ecosystem should support the publishing of packages of artefacts (e.g. research objects, enhanced publications, RMap) to allow discovery, evaluation, and reproducibility of aggregations of artefacts (e.g. workflows or experiments with input datasets).

Today's scientific communication landscape is far from supporting this vision, mainly due to its inability to (i) support publishing of all kinds of research artefacts: for example, research methods publishing workflows are generally not best practice, i.e. no research method repositories, no PIDs for methods, no scientific reward; (ii) keep a complete and up-to-date record of relationships between research artefacts: e.g. publication and data repositories do not keep up-to-date bi-lateral links between each other’s artefacts; and (iii) find agreements on how to share and publish packages of artefacts: solutions exists (e.g. research objects, enhanced publications, RMap) but are not regarded as first-class products of scientific communication. De facto, today’s scientific communication ecosystem lacks tools and practices for engaging research communities at adopting the aforementioned novel Open Science publishing principles, even when researchers are already in the position of publishing interlinked artefacts and/or artefact packages.

OpenAIRE-Connect is an H2020 EC project, started in January 2017. The project fosters transparent evaluation of results and facilitates reproducibility of science for research communities by enabling a scientific communication ecosystem supporting the exchange of artefacts, packages of artefacts, and links between them across communities and across content providers. To this aim, OpenAIRE-Connect will introduce and implement the concept of Open Science as a Service (OSaaS) on top of the existing OpenAIRE infrastructure (, by delivering out-of-the-box, on-demand deployable tools in support of Open Science. OpenAIRE-Connect will realise and operate two OSaaS production services (see figure):
  • Research Community Dashboard: it will serve research communities to at publishing research artefacts (packages and links), and monitoring their research impact.
  • Catch-All Notification Broker: it will engage and mobilise content providers, and serve them with services enabling notification-based exchange of research artefacts, to leverage their transition towards Open Science paradigms.

Both services will be served on-demand according to the OSaaS approach, hence be reusable from different disciplines and providers, each with different practices and maturity levels, so as to favour a shift towards a uniform cross-community and cross-content provider scientific communication ecosystem.

To achieve its objectives, OpenAIRE-Connect involves key stakeholders of scientific communication:
  • A pool of forward-looking research communities, today publishing or in the need of publishing research data and methods: Earth and Environmental Sciences (Pangaea and Atlas community), Cultural Heritage and Digital Humanities (the PARTHENOS research infrastructure), Neuroinformatics (France Life Imaging national infrastructure), Fisheries and aquaculture management (the BlueBridge and MARBEC infrastructures), Environment & Economy (national/EU node of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network);
  • International representatives of Open Access publishers (Jisc and COAR), publication repositories (COAR and OpenAIRE NOADs), and data archives (ICSU World Data Systems/WDS), willing to support and benefit from such a change.
    Participating research communities and providers will drive the design and development of general-purpose services, will test and assess these services in a number of pilots to reach the desired production-quality and enrich the OpenAIRE infrastructure’s services portfolio. The adoption of these services, eased by the OSaaS approach aim at incepting Open Science publishing within the existing scholarly communication landscape.
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