At the occasion of the Digital Infrastructures for Research Conference, held in Krakow, Poland in the Fall of 2016, we were able to speak with Natalia Manola from the OpenAire project and infrastructure, which was one of the organizing parties of the Krakow conference. OpenAire is an EU project. This initiative started in 2009 to implement the Open Access Pilot of the European Commission. Gradually, it has moved to implementing the Open Access Publication Horizon 2020 Pilot. OpenAire is involved in the processes of implementing the Open Research Data Pilot as well.
OpenAire started in 2009, a few years before the resource programmes with Open Access publications. That was the main focus. As the OpenAire consortium sees that things are changing in open scholar communication, it is moving to open scholarship in general which is an overarching term for Open Science. It is Open Science plus the communication of how you do the processes. This is OpenAire's next big challenge.
We noticed that Open Access is also very important in the European context. The European Union has endorsed and adopted the concept.
Natalia Manola confirmed that the European Union was one of the forerunners and leaders in Open Access policy formulation and implementation. The Member States are all following too. Open Access publication however was a very small issue. Commissioner Carlos Moedas has launched the "Open Science, Open Innovation, Open to the World" initiative which should be partly implemented by the European Open Science. This is a harder challenge. One of the key goals of OpenAire is to put this Open Science agenda on the table of every funder in the European Union, and not only in the policy agenda but also in how it is accompanied by the implementation. Policies are fine indeed but without implementation, they mean nothing.
We remarked that the European Commission is also putting a lot of emphasis on the fact that the new projects should do something with Open Access.
Natalia Manola nodded that OpenAire has a suite of services that helps the European Horizon 2020 project coordinators by giving them guidelines and by providing a technical infrastructure. From the moment that the project starts, as the coordinators go along, OpenAire hopes that they know what to do with the publications and the Data Management Plan. OpenAire supports them with how and where to store the data and how to curate them.
Most importantly, OpenAire works in a different way. It is a hierarchical way. OpenAire's members are the national Open Access desks in the Member States in Europe. They are the ambassadors of Open Science. They have a dual role. One of the roles is to propagate the Open Science policies and implementation in their countries. They are the ones that go to the institutions, the researchers and the funders. The other role is to get the requirements back from all these communities and propagate them to the OpenAire platform to see how OpenAire can devise more services and know what are the actual user needs.
We also wanted to know more about the OpenAire collaboration with the other digital and e-Infrastructures.
OpenAire is trying to collaborate on various layers, as Natalia Manola explained. First of all OpenAire tries to understand what the other infrastructures are doing. Each of the infrastructures has a different organisational model. The goal is to see how these different organisational models may fit together. Then, OpenAire goes down to the service integration. It is talking about concrete services integrating with each other. There is also collaboration on the human support level. How can the infrastructures do training together? How, between their constituencies, can they identify the communality, the common goals, the common stakeholders? How can the infrastructures join forces to provide this human support?
To give a concrete example, Natalia Manola said that they were in the process of devising common training on Open Science. The OpenAire model is putting the libraries and the universities at the centre. Infrastructures like EGI and EUDAT are devising repositories, either at the project level or at the national level. OpenAire is at the scholarly communication level, which is at the publishing level. The publishing level has changed. In the past, there were publications towards the end of the research effort. Now publishing is dated at different levels: publishing of software that you work with, for example. OpenAire is there to connect all the dots.
When you have an infrastructure that is providing storage or Cloud capacity to their communities, OpenAire would like to integrate their services. When researchers deposit something, they know what Open Science means, they know what they have to do since OpenAire is there to support them. Starting with data to focus on, all this data will be known to the OpenAire system and will be linked to the funding, to the publications, to the organisations and to the people. OpenAire is trying to set up a European-wide research information system.
We asked for Natalia Manola's impressions of the conference.
She thought it was a very good start. From the OpenAire perspective, they had ten to fifteen people present. The overall impression was that OpenAire needs to integrate more. The focus is to bring the libraries and the data librarians closer to the more technical infrastructures. There is no need to go to the technical details but OpenAire wants to see what is available, what is on offer. How can the infrastructures work together at the institutional level and at the national level? This is really important.