COAR: Confederation of Open Access Repositories
One of the objectives of DRIVER II has been the building of an organisation around the DRIVER infrastructure, capable of maintaining it over time. A process of consultation has revealed the need for an organisational model of partners representing the repository community, comprising organisations and individuals that represent a common strategic interest in Open Access scholarly communication rather than in a common technology.
An independent investigation was conducted, providing insight into the way such an organisation could be shaped, taking into account its networked and cross-border character, as well as its wide ranging stakeholder community and their differentiated needs. The goals of the new organisation, COAR, the Confederation of Open Access Repositories distinguishes between the need to continue the DRIVER network as an operation, and the need to work globally at the spread of Open Access Repositories by lobby, by influencing policy development and by providing guidance and training. COAR will be a lightweight organisation, a “registered not-for-profit” Association (eingetragener Verein, e.V.) with the host seat in Göttingen, Germany.
Summed up in the catch phrase- coined by Subbiah Arunachalam, the Indian guru and protagonist of Open Access – as ‘reaching the unreached’, the extension of the vision of DRIVER from a primarily European focus , to serve the development of a global knowledge infrastructure can sanction no “untouchables”. The success of DRIVER in achieving an unprecedented level of interoperability between European repositories commands a wider organisational infrastructure to link confederations of repositories across continents around the globe in support of new models of scholarly communication. The vision of a global knowledge infrastructure is enabled in the sharing of scalable information technologies and Open Access models of information dissemination and data re-use.
Aim of COAR
COAR is an international not-for-profit association that aims to promote greater visibility and application of research outputs through global networks of Open Access digital repositories.
COAR strives to achieve this aim in pursuing two main goals.
- The first goal set concerns the operation, maintenance and further development of the DRIVER Confederation not as a project but as a sustainable and viable operation
- The second goal set concerns the more general and strategic goals with respect to development, advocacy, and representation of Open Access and repositories. Perceived as the strategic level of the DRIVER Confederation goals, the second goal set was designated under COAR.
The two goals sets are considered sufficiently different to require different approaches, activities, instruments and skills best achieved in a collaborative initiative, yet the interdependence of the two goal sets supported the adoption of a single legal entity, constituted as a light-weight organisational structure with sufficient flexibility to develop and respond to change in a dynamic environment.
What will COAR offer, and to whom?
Notable representatives of the repository community were invited to provide opinion on the ultimate goal of world-wide networks of content repositories, offering a robust infrastructure in support of scholarly communications. A subsequent process of consultation conducted together with SURF and JISC revealed a wide range of interests from funders, government organisations and policy makers; from libraries and repositories; from technology/software developers and from data and service providers.
The launch of a single legal entity to meet such wide-ranging needs is motivated by the tremendous synergies emerging in higher education, addressed in the following objectives:
- the support and coordination of global collaborative efforts towards high-quality Open Access data and interoperable systems;
- acting as the reference point for repository standardization efforts, the repository community platform, and to be the venue for discussion and meetings working towards streamlining OA repository developments;
- advocacy of consistent policy formulation on institutional repository development;
- development and support of interoperable standards for national aggregation of research content in OA repositories;
- supporting the formalisation of OA mandates by research funders and institutions;
- promoting an increased rate of self-archived deposit with as little burden as possible on the researcher;
- maintenance, development and growth of the DRIVER Confederation as one of the established technical, functional and organisational cross-country networks of OA repositories;
- offering the international framework for further advanced technical and functional developments in the context of global digital repository infrastructures;
- promoting the interoperable development of equivalent local regional national and international infrastructures that subscribe to the COAR vision.
COAR was launched during Open Access Week 2009 by representatives of 28 international organisations, as founding members. The early bird membership fee of €100 is valid until 31 December 2009, open to not-for-profit organisations engaged in research and higher education, as well as individuals who support the aims of the Association.