From research creation to dissemination

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Tamir Borensztajn describes attempts to support an open research infrastructure

In June 2019, I had the pleasure of attending the Open Repositories Conference in Hamburg, Germany. My attendance at the conference was spurred by a renewed thinking at EBSCO around our support for research workflows and the ways in which we could help drive the dissemination of knowledge beyond the discovery of the journal article. We were looking, thereby, to continue to build on the successful model of library-vendor collaboration that had been established through the multiple open source projects that EBSCO supports – most notably FOLIO. Now, the question was where and how we could contribute to an open research infrastructure and play a constructive role working with and supporting libraries in the provisioning of new research services.

EBSCO, of course, has a rich history of supporting research through our database offerings and EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS). More than probably any other company, we dedicate substantial technical resources to optimizing article-level discovery and access; as article records may number in the billions, we have long recognized that providing users the right results for every query requires a dedicated team and focus. At the same time, while we continue to enhance the discovery experience and the discoverability of article content, we also appreciate that the article is but one component of the research itself. Research, after all, is comprised of data, computational code and methods that have been created and collected by researchers at all levels in the course of their work. At Open Repositories, therefore, it stood to reason that many sessions and presentations sought to address how the institutional repository can include not just the article but the broad set of research output. Questions accordingly ranged from how best to package research data for inclusion in the repository to the discovery and cross-linking of research outputs - including datasets and software - via an open infrastructure and services such as those provided by OpenAIRE.  

Yet, it also more than behooves us to think further ‘upstream’, beyond the need to collect and disseminate the research to the creation of the research as well. Here, we may look at tools that may support the research community in its work and simultaneously enable libraries to gain much-needed stewardship over the totality of the research output. If we start with the research community, the services that we provide must not only enable the individual to work more efficiently but for the community to reproduce and re-use research in support of open science mandates where required. Then, libraries – on their part – may leverage these services to collect the output for inclusion in the (institutional) repository, to preserve it, and to understand its impact.

By adopting and provisioning the tools and services in support of open research and its stewardship, we, as libraries and vendors, find ourselves in a position where we may in fact play a central role in addressing the challenges that our researchers face today. We can deliver tools that improve how research is done at the point of discovery, data collection, coding and documentation. We can address concerns around the reproducibility of research by ensuring unfettered access to data, executable code and methods. We can help speed the time from research to when knowledge is consumed and discovered. And we can ensure that for generations to come, research is properly safeguarded and preserved.

With the above objectives in mind, EBSCO has now partnered with companies that support open research and enable institutions to gain better stewardship over the totality of their research output: Code Ocean, and Arkivum. The first two of these companies provide solutions for the creation, sharing, publication and reuse of computational code, data and research methods. Arkivum, on its part, ensures the long-term data management and preservation of research. Through these partnerships, libraries may support and deliver open platforms to the research community and, at the same time, benefit from improved visibility into and stewardship over the research that is created within the institution. 

The new partnerships and our continued work in the open source community underscore our commitment to an open research infrastructure. By providing said infrastructure for the creation and dissemination of research, libraries may enjoy improved stewardship over the research while supporting its reproducibility and discoverability. As such, we believe that the community of libraries and EBSCO together may continue to work off a common goal: affording libraries maximum choice of best in breed, interoperable and open research solutions.

Tamir Borensztajn is vice president for SaaS strategy at EBSCO Information Services