Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, September 05, 2008

How Ireland will provide OA to its publicly-funded research

Ireland is launching a national OA platform or portal which will harvest the contents of the country's new network of institutional repositories.  See the announcement by Dublin City University (undated but this week):

A Window to Irish Research: the Creation of a National Research Website...

Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Jimmy Devins opened a Research Information Systems Conference at the Science Gallery in Trinity College Dublin yesterday. The conference is an integral part of the Irish Universities Association (IUA) project to develop a national research website. The goal of IUA's National Research Platform Project is to provide a web based platform where all publicly funded research projects and information can be found....

Commenting on the value of the project Minister Devins said: "Effective implementation of the Strategy for Science Technology & Innovation (SSTI) will require enhanced visibility and accessibility of the national research effort. We need more effective identification and classification of the research being conducted in the Irish higher education sector and research establishments and more effective dissemination of the results of that research to potential users, in Ireland and globally"....

The National Research Platform feasibility study will run for one year and is funded equally by the HEA Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) and the higher education sector....

Data from will provide the cornerstone for the new National Research Platform. Under the banner of the website considerable progress has been made in mining the research information systems of the higher education institutions and creating, in a single web-based location, more than 5700 profiles of knowledge experts and access to the opportunities available for licensing from this sector. Other administrations are now considering similar approaches, including the Australian government.

The portal also represents an important national resource of data capable of feeding into initiatives such as benchmarking exercises, or bibliometric analysis. The value of has been affirmed by an international peer review process which resulted in the IUA securing funding from SIF for a project to provide open access to research papers of university researchers which would use as a national access point. For the first time, Irish research will be freely available worldwide. This access will ensure Irish research has a greater impact by significantly increasing the visibility of Irish research and the concomitant increased citations and awareness....

While these efforts are underway, information on much of the national research effort remains largely inaccessible and inconsistent; either being subsumed into the strata of individual university websites, or spread across disparate and uncoordinated sites devoted to individual research projects. The National Research Platform will provide a window to Irish Research by gathering the information from these projects and presenting it in a user friendly format.


  • If I understand it, the new OA research portal will harvest its contents from university repositories and other distributed sources, rather than require direct deposits in the central database.  If so, it's the first national OA research portal anywhere to take that promising approach.
  • Ireland's Higher Education Authority (HEA) adopted an OA mandate just last month, and funded at least the feasibility study behind the new portal.  The Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) adopted an OA mandate in May 2008.  Both the HEA and IRCSET mandates allow grantees to meet the OA requirement by depositing their work in their own, local institutional repositories, and both plan to make use of the network of IRs at every Irish university now under construction by the Irish Universities Association
  • This looks like the result of a careful three-step plan:  (1) launch IRs at every Irish university, (2) require OA to new articles resulting from publicly-funded research, understanding that most of them will land first in the author's IR, and (3) launch a national platform to harvest the contents of the IRs and use it to promote the visibility of national research, preserve it, organize it, and crunch it for benchmarking, bibliometric analysis, and quality assessment.  The system is a little more complicated than requiring deposit in special repositories hosted by the funding agencies (such as PMC and UKPMC).  But it's within reach for small countries with relatively few funding agencies and universities.  And it has the benefits of (1) helping universities to disseminate and analyze their own research output, (2) adding local incentives to funder mandates to increase and reward author participation, (3) adding robustness to digital preservation, and (4) ensuring that the system will scale with the growth of published research, regardless of what happens to the national platform.  To me, the greatest benefit is (5) nurturing local cultures of self-archiving at every university, which will carry over to non-funded research and magnify the impact of the funder OA policies.

Update.  Also see the comments of Garret McMahon, not only on the news but also on the presentations at the meeting where the news was announced.