Abstract: This article describes an interoperability fabric among a wide variety of heterogeneous repositories holding managed collections of scholarly digital objects. These digital objects are considered units of scholarly communication, and scholarly communication is seen as a global, cross-repository workflow. The proposed interoperability fabric includes a shared data model to represent digital objects, a common format to serialize those objects into network-transportable surrogates, three core repository interfaces that support surrogates (obtain, harvest, put) and some shared infrastructure. This article also describes an experiment implementing an overlay journal in which this interoperability fabric was tested across four different repository architectures (aDORe, arXiv, DSpace, Fedora). We detail the implementation choices made in the course of this experiment.
From the body of the paper:
[I]t is possible to build scholarly value chains across heterogeneous, distributed repositories by introducing an interoperability fabric consisting of a shared data model for the representation of digital objects, a format to serialize digital objects into surrogates compliant with that data model, three core repository interfaces (obtain, harvest, put) that support surrogates, and some shared infrastructure. And, through the introduction of a repository-centric identification approach combined with a lineage concept, it has also shown that it is possible to record audit trails of scholarly value chains into the very foundation of the scholarly communication system.
This work reflects growing interest in the notion of repository federation. Related work such as the CORDRA effort, the Chinese DSpace Federation, and the Dutch DARE project also suggest that object re-use across various contexts is achievable through the introduction of a shared interoperable layer. The recent "Augmenting Interoperability" meeting...further demonstrates the growing interest in leveraging the intrinsic value of scholarly digital objects beyond the borders of the hosting repository.
We believe that interest in this type of federation is sufficiently strong to move beyond prototypes and to support an effort to formally specify this next level of interoperability across repositories. Such an effort would help realize the vision of a natively digital, repository-centric scholarly communication system. Through the support of the Mellon Foundation a two-year international initiative to define this interoperability fabric has started in October 2006. The initiative is aptly named Object Reuse and Exchange (ORE), and it is coordinated by Carl Lagoze and Herbert Van de Sompel. In the same manner that work on the OAI-PMH began, this initiative will start with the appointment of an international advisory board and technical committee.
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