Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Data exchange among disparate repositories

ECS developers win $5000 repository challenge, a press release from the University of Southampton School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), April 15, 2008.  Excerpt:

Developers from ECS, Southampton, and Oxford University won a $5000 challenge competition which took place at the OR08 Open Repositories international conference.

Dave Tarrant, Tim Brody (Southampton) and Ben O'Steen (Oxford), beat a large field of contenders, including finalists from the USA and Australia, by demonstrating that digital data can be moved easily between storage sites running different software while remaining accessible to users (watch video). This approach has important implications for data management and preservation on the Web....

[W]ith the growth of institutional repositories alongside subject-based repositories, and in cases where multiple-authors of a paper belong to different institutions, it is important to be able to share and copy content between repositories.

Meanwhile the repository space has become characterised by many types of repository software - DSpace, EPrints and Fedora are the most widely used open source repository software - containing many different types of content, including texts, multimedia and interactive teaching materials. So although sharing content and making it widely available (interoperability) has always been a driver for repository development, actually moving content on a large scale between repositories and providing access from all sources is not easy.

The OR08 challenge, set by the Common Repository Interfaces Group (CRIG), had just one rule for the competition: the prototype created had to utilise two different 'repository' platforms....

This data transfer was achieved using an emerging framework known as Object Reuse and Exchange (ORE), a topic that attracted one of the highest attendances at OR08....

Comment.  Congratulations to Tarrant, Brody, and O'Steen.  I look forward to the day when institutional repositories can harvest full-texts and metadata from disciplinary repositories and vice versa.  That will greatly reduce the temperature on the question where researchers initially deposit their work (and where universities and funders require them to deposit their work), and greatly increase the security of deposits (on the LOCKSS principle).  Thanks to ORE and the tools developed by the Southampton-Oxford team, this day is not far off. 

Update.  Also see Stevan Harnad's comments:

...The demonstration of the bulk transferability of the contents of one OAI-compliant repository to another is indeed welcome. It shows that it does not really matter from the point of view of either accessibility or harvestability where a research output is deposited (as long as it's in an OAI-compliant repository). But where it is deposited still matters a great deal for the probability of research output being deposited at all, and especially for the probability of deposit mandates being adopted at all -- particularly deposit mandates on the part of institutions, who are the providers of all the research output, funded and unfunded, across all disciplines....