Archive for Open access

Towards an architecture for open archive networks in Agricultural Sciences and Technology

The AGRIS Network is an international initiative based on a collaborative network of institutions, whose aim is to build a common and freely accessible information system for science and technology in agriculture and related subjects. The paper illustrates how the Open Access (OA) and the Open Archive Initiative (OAI) models can be used within the AGRIS Network as a means of solving the problems of information dissemination and exchange of agricultural research outputs. The AGRIS OA model promotes the availability of online content, such as that of grey literature which is not available through commercial distribution channels but significantly contributes to agricultural research and development. The lack of adequate information exchange possibilities between researchers in agricultural sciences and technology represents a significant weakness limiting the ability of researches to properly help address the issues of agricultural development. The OA model also promotes disseminating international, national and regional research output in a way that is highly visible thus removing the restrictions placed by the traditional scientific diffusion arising from print media. This paper presents the possibility to address the accessibility, availability and interoperability issues of exchanging agricultural research output. The paper also presents the needs for standards such as AGRIS Application Profile (AGRIS AP), an exchange standard and controlled vocabularies or subject-specific Knowledge Organization Systems (KOS) as means of assuring quality of the shared information.

Read the full paper:

  • [English]
  • [Chinese] <- Thank you to Zhong Wang for the translation!
  • [French] <- Thank you to Koda for the translation!
  • [Spanish] < Thank you to Franz Martin for the translation!

Your comments, feedback and suggestions are most appreciated.

Gauri Salokhe, FAO.


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How CIRAD stands vis-à-vis the Open Archives projects


At the local level

CIRAD’s database, AGRITROP

AGRITROP is CIRAD’s bibliographic and full text database.


AGRITROP is composed of references associated with full text (when it exists) of all CIRAD’s publications (books, book chapters, conference proceedings, conference communications, journal articles, training courses, pictures) and of the books available in CIRAD’s libraries.


AGRITROP uses the AGRIS/CARIS categorization scheme and the French AGROVOC thesaurus to index its data.


AGRITROP is based on the library information system LORIS/DORIS which is a commercial software developed by a private French company EVER. LORIS/DORIS is not OAI compliant.

UNIMARC is the format of AGRITROP.


Outputs from AGRITROP

CIRAD hasn’t supplied AGRIS with AGRITROP data for several years.

Because AGRITROP isn’t OAI compliant, CIRAD has to extract publications lists from AGRITROP and then display them on the Internet ( so that references and full text can be indexed and retrieved by search engines like Google and Google Search.


Data from AGRITROP could be exported in a XML format but the output and process are complex and can’t easily be used to export data according to DC or AGRIS AP.



At the national level

CIRAD’s participation in the national Open Archive

CIRAD has been participating since 2006 in the national Open Archive HAL (Hyper Article on Line) which is hosted and managed by CNRS (the National Scientific Research Center).

HAL was initially designed to host scientific publications which are accepted by peer-review journals.

HAL covers a wide range of scientific areas from mathematics and physics (HAL is linked to Arxiv) to medicine (HAL will soon be linked to PubMed), psychology and agronomy.

HAL is harvested by Google and Google Scholar.


Our main concern with HAL is that it is not intended to host unconventional literature (technical documents, activity and expert reports, unpublished communications). Its classification scheme isn’t a conventional one and its keywords aren’t controlled.



CIRAD’s database isn’t OAI compliant and is not directly available through OAI harvesters and search engines like Google and Google Scholar.

Although CIRAD participates in the national Open Archive HAL, it can’t use HAL to promote CIRAD unconventional publications which form the greater part of CIRAD’s literature.


Furthermore, the agronomic field is a minor subject in HAL which isn’t based on a well established classification scheme (like the AGRIS/CARIS) nor as a controlled vocabulary (like AGROVOC).



CIRAD’s requirements in order to participate at the international level

The best option for CIRAD, in terms of access to its publications, would be to set up an institutional repository based on OAI standard and controlled vocabularies (ISI subjects for scientific classification, AGRIS/CARIS for applied research fields and AGROVOC for keywords).

This repository would accept any type of publication (from peer review articles to technical documents) in order to give access on the Internet to unconventional literature produced by CIRAD’s researchers.


What CIRAD thinks of AGRIS AP

It is essential for our repository to use a standard and as complete as possible a metadata set. Moreover, it is essential that CIRAD’s publications can be harvested, searched, retrieved and read on the Internet according to standard data. However, AGRIS AP is a little too heavy and complicated for exporting data easily in a XML format.

What we need is a simplified metadata set from AGRIS AP which would be processed by service providers, like the one FAO proposes to set up for the AGRIS network and the international agronomic research community.


MC Deboin 19/01/2007



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Framework 7 Open for Participation from African Countries, China and India

I am today participating in the Europe-Africa concertation meeting. This meeting is organized by the START IST, project.
The START program is a specific support action within FP6 for promoting to get Subsaharan African Organizations into the FP7 Framework programs. There are 1 European and 2 African Partners in Start. It is a 2 years program and they will publish in October 2007 a strategic Framework.

The meeting was started by a presentation of Thierry Devars the project officer from the International Relations Unit, DG Information Society and Media, European Commission. Devars pointed out that with the 7th framework all research institutions in subsaharian African countries are eligible to participate and to be funded in framework projects. (this is true also for the countries around the Mediterranean, India, China, Russia and some other countries)
He emphasized that China and India are investing huge sums and initiatives into research collaboration with Africa and that Europa risks to loose the train.

Another Key Note Speaker was Daan du Toit, South African Science and Technology Representative to Europe. He wanted to bring an African Prospective into the workshop. He pointed to the planned January 2007 summit on “Science and Technology and Innovation” between African governments that will discuss a consolidated plan of action with regard to Capacity Building, Knowledge Production and Technological Innovation. He pointed out that there is still more a research divide than a digital divide. Research cooperation for Africa is essential to link to the 99% of research produced outside Africa. Europe is the most important partner, but he sees this collaboration as a win-win collaboration.

In both presentations it was emphasized that we are speaking not about development projects but about common research projects.

25 projects are being presented at this meeting, including projects on cultural heritage, e-commerce, Health, Physics and Mathematics, but it seems upto know that my presentation is the only one referring to Agriculture. Here is a huge task for FAO!

see more at

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Subbiah Arunachalams Post to the BOIA on the AGRIS OAI Workshop

Close on the heals of the successful two-day international workshop on
electronic publishing and open access: developing country perspectives, held
at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, there was another workshop on
open access in India. This workshop, essentially meant to address the needs
of agricultural researchers in India, was hosted jointly by ICRISAT, a CGIAR
institution, and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization.

participants in the AGRIS OAI workshop

About twenty participants – including the vice chancellor of an agricultural
university, editors of agricultural journals, scientists and librarians of
agricultural universities and the laboratories of the Indian Council of
Agricultural Research attended the workshop. Dr P M Bhargava, vice chairman
of India’s National Knowledge Commission gave an inspiring opening address.
Societies where knowledge flowed freely were far more prosperous than
societies where knowledge was withheld, he said. He expressed his full
support to open source software, open standards and open access to scientific
and scholarly literature and told the gathering that the National Knowledge
Commission had recommended open access to scientific and scholarly research
publications, especially those resulting from publicly funded research
projects, to the Prime Minister. As a scientist and a biologist, however, he
said he would like to publish his paper in Nature, Science or Cell and that
indeed it would hinder the progress of science if he were to publish a paper
that would be accepted by Nature in a lesser journal. The challenge for us,
he said, was to find ways by which these journals could be made open access.

The workshop was inaugurated by Dr J D H Keatinge, Deputy Director General of
ICRISAT, whom I and Alma Swan had met in the first week of Januaray 2006 and
had a brief discussion on the advantages of open access. But for his support
this workshop might not have taken place. When Dr Bhargava said that people
would always like to read print-on-paper versions, Dr Keatinge disagreed
saying that his teenage children do virtually everything – reading, listening
to music and so on – on computers!

The workshop was largely conceived by Jai Haravu, a former librarian at
ICRISAT and now an information management consultant, and Johannes Keizer of FAO, Rome. Johannes spoke about the initiatives of the AGRIS network and how AGRIS network can help India develop an open access agricultural information network. Dr D K Sahu of MedKnow spoke on how we could convert Indian agricultural journals into open access ‘feeless-free’ journals. He provided evidence from MedKnow journals to show that going open access indeed helped in increasing the number of subscribers to the print version apart from attracting more papers, especially from outside India, and citations and

Subbiah Arunachalam provoked the participants by asking them if Indian Institute of Science, National Institute of Technology and several CSIR laboratories could set up interoperable institutional archives what prevented ICAR laboratories from setting up their own archives. He drew attention to the more than 730 institutional archives around the world and the more than 2,600 OA journals and urged Indian agricultural researchers, librarians and
policymakers to adopt open access.

Dr A R D Prasad of the Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore, spoke about
the need for OA repositories, DSpace software, need for training and capacity
building. He told about the number of workshops conducted both at ISI,
Bangalore, and elsewhere in India. His colleague Dr Devika Maddali explained
in some detail how to plan and set up and sustain an institutional archive.

Dr Mitali Ghosh Roy of ICAR gave an overview of the publication activity at
ICAR. The day ended with a lively audio conversation with three distinguished
OA advocates, viz. Peter Suber, Leslie Chan and Peter Ballantyne. Questions
from the participants included concern about depositing papers when the
copyright resided with the journal publisher, subject-based central
repository vs institutional repository, loss of subscription revenue at a
time when the Ministry supporting the journal is keen to increase income from
subscriptions, etc. The participants found this session, although late in the
day, very interesting and useful.

A working group spent an hour in the evening to draw up an action plan.

Day two started with a session on Indian initiatives.
Sukhdev Singh of the national Informatics Centre, New Delhi, briefed us about
IndMED, MedIND and OpenMED. He made a simple but profound statement: The end
users (those who visit the archive for information) know far more than those
who create the archives, and those who create and maintain the archive should
give them what the users want and not what the archive owners want to give.
Srinivas of ICRISAT described the services provided by the ICRISAT library
and how their internal needs led them to go digital and subsequently open
access. The ICRISAT institutional archive will be officially up in the first
week of January 2007.
Francis Jayakanth of the Indian Institute of Science described the value
additions made to India’s first institutional archive, which currently has
over 5,700 papers.

Ms Gauri Salokhe of FAO spoke about AGRIS standards, and in particular the modifications AGRIS has made in Dublin Core.

Dr P Rama Rao of the National Academy of Agricultural Research management,
Hyderabad, led a panel discussion which looked at how the participants could
influence policy and what they should do next.

It looks to me that at last the agriculture sector in India will make a
beginning and within the next six months a few institutions may set up their
own interoperable OA archives and upload annual reports, newsletters, theses
and conference papers. But archives with refereed research papers and OA
journals may take a little longer.

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Gathering evidence about the effectiveness of “open access” publishing policies in agriculture

Gathering evidence about the effectiveness of “open access” publishing policies in agriculture

Hugo Besemer


There are many studies meant to demonstrate that “open access” publishing policies improve the impact of scientific papers. All these studies use some number of citation count (either counting citations in other journals, or web links to a paper) as a surrogate measure for impact. Especially amongst “open access” activists there is a number of quite prolific writers and bloggers. There is a current bibliography (1) that is updated regularly although it may miss some of the more critical and non-“open access” literature. Below we will discuss the main findings, especially in the light of possible questions with regard to the evidence that we would like to gather to show that an “open access” publishing strategy may work to make agricultural science be disseminated more effectively. We will than rase some ideas for studies to gather evidence that applies specifically to the agricultural sector. Such an effort should take into account a number of issues that are specific for the agricultural sector:

  • Agricultural science is applied science indeed and the potential readers of publications may be other beneficiaries than scientific peers, such as extension officers, readers from the private sector etc. We might need to establish other surrogate measures than citedness in scientific journals to quantify the impact of publications for such groups.
  • Reports always have been important in agricultural science and we should find ways to measure their impact. Almost all the studies discussed below concentrate on journal articles.
  • Agriculture science is multidisciplinary. There is evidence that “open access” journals rank higher in multidisciplinary fields (3). We should be able to show that this applies to different fields in agriculture.
  • A recent study showed that amongst African journal editors there is little awareness of, and scepsis if an “open access” model can be sustainable for their journals (5). We need to find evidence to convince them that going “open access” may attract better papers and lets their journals reach a wider readership.

A much debated area

There are reasons why these issues are much debated and why generalizations of findings are difficult. For one thing the way that scientific information is communicated has changed drastically over the past years

1. Citation studies require a certain time-span as papers need time to get cited. During this time-span many patterns in scientific communication have changed. When the first paper to demonstrate a positive effect of “open access” on citations appeared in 2001 (2) “online” was probably equivalent to “freely accessible on the public internet”. Nowadays most scientific publishers use the Internet to distribute scientific journals to their subscribers.

2. The term “open access” is used rather fluidly and sometimes misused (“open access for two weeks” meaning a trial subscription). It may mean at least the following things:

a. Published in an “open access” journal, i.e. a journal that is accessible on the Internet and does not charge a subscription fee. This is sometimes referred to as the “golden route”.

b. Published in a non-“open access” journal and later submitted by the author in an institutional repository (the “green route”). Thomson ISI estimated that in 2004 55% of the journals and 65% of the articles published in their “Web of Science” are produced by publishers who permit some sort of self-archiving.(3)

c. Many authors publish their papers on their personal websites, and many of them may feel that they do not have time to check each publisher’s archiving policy. According to (4) informal this method “de facto ” opens access to a considerable proportion of the articles in subscription-based journals.

d. Submitted directly to an institutional archive without being published in a journal.

3. Some studies concentrate on the level of individual articles, others on the journal level. In discussions it is sometimes forgotten that the impact factor of a journal is often a poor predictor for the number of citations of individual articles. Therefore conclusions on one level.

4. There is a perceived need for new measures for scientific impact (Web / URL citations, numbers of downloads) that take into account the Web as a means of scientific communication (8, 12)

What is agreed and what not

Studies that concentrate on the article level generally find a positive correlation between “open access” and the citedness of articles. These studies compare the citedness of “open access” and non-“open access” articles in collections of that are comparable otherwise: Lawrence’s classic study (2) compares articles from the same conference; other studies compare articles from a journal like PNAS that offer the author the choice to publish their article as “open access” or not (6). Many studies are from a limited number of fields like mathematics, (astro)physics, computer science etc. where the ArXiv document server plays an important role since the early nineties (see for example (7)) Studies across different disciplines show that the positive impact of “open access” may differ (8, 9) between disciplines. Some studies seem to indicate that this positive correlation between “open access” and citedness is most significant for the most cited papers (4) but there is certainly not a general agreement on this. (Personally I am also wondering what the causal relationship might be: are these articles better cited because they are online? I can also imagine that much cited authors get tired of sending around reprints and put their papers online for that reason)

There is no general agreement about the value of web/URL citation or web usage to predict the citedness of a paper (9)

At the journal level the most important study is from Thomson ISI, the producers of the science citation index. (4) It is important to note that according to that study in all disciplines that are compared “open access” journals are in the lower range of impact factors, but do better on the immediacy index (a measure to indicate that papers are noted on the shorter term). The proportion of “open access” journals from North America and Western Europe that make it to the ISI citation indexes is significantly lower (1.5% and 1.1 % respectively) than the percentage from other parts of the world (42.3 % from South/Central America and 14.9% from the Asia/Pacific region) This seems to be an indication that “open access” strategies can play an important role to let these other parts of the world play a more important role in the scientific arena.

Some ideas for studies in the agricultural area

Hopefully this paper will illicit a discussion what evidence we need to gather to convince different groups of players. Below are a number of

  • It would be relatively easy to repeat the study of impact factors of “open access” journals (3) for the agricultural sector. This would give an indication of the importance of “open access” for the communication amongst scientific peers.
  • Citations to reports are probably are probably not covered very well by the Science Citation Index but some of its recent competitors (Google Scholar, Scopus) may do better. This would give an indication of the importance of “open accessibility” for the impact of reports for a scientific target group.
  • It will probably not be easy to come up with a measure for the impact of publications (either reports or journal articles) for other groups than scientific peers (such as extensionists, private sector agricultural knowledge workers etc.) It would be possible though to count web / url citations by specific sites that are menat for those groups. It will require additional thinking to come up with a way to use such a measure to assess the impact of “open accessibility”.
  • The studies above concentrate on quantitative evidence. We should also think of qualitative measures that go beyond the anecdotal level.


1.    The effect of open access and downloads (‘hits’) on citation impact: a bibliography of studies
2.    Lawrence, S. (2001) Free online availability substantially increases a paper’s impact Nature, 31 May 2001
3.    McVeigh, M. E. (2004)
Open Access Journals in the ISI Citation Databases: Analysis of Impact Factors and Citation Patterns
Thomson Scientific, October 2004
4.    Wren, J. D. (2005)
Open access and openly accessible: a study of scientific publications shared via the internet
BMJ, 330:1128, 12 April 2005
5.    Daisy Ouya (2006) Open Access survey of Africa-published journals INASP infobrief 7: June 2006
6.    Eysenbach, G. (2006) Citation Advantage of Open Access Articles
PLoS Biology, Volume 4, Issue 5, May 2006
7.    Henneken, E. A., Kurtz, M. J., Eichhorn, G., Accomazzi, A., Grant, C., Thompson, D., and Murray, S. S. (2006)
Effect of E-printing on Citation Rates in Astronomy and Physics
ArXiv, Computer Science, cs.DL/0604061, v2, 5 June 2006, submitted to the Journal of Electronic Publishing
8.    Kousha, K. and Thelwall, M. (2006)
Google Scholar Citations and Google Web/URL Citations: A Multi-Discipline Exploratory Analysis
E-LIS, 05 June 2006, also in Proceedings International Workshop on Webometrics, Informetrics and Scientometrics & Seventh COLLNET Meeting, Nancy (France), May 2006
9.    Vaughan, L. and Shaw, D. (2005)
Web citation data for impact assessment: A comparison of four science disciplines (abstract only)
Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 56, No. 10, 1075 – 1087, published online 27 May 2005
10.    Mueller, P. S., Murali, N. S., Cha, S. S., Erwin, P. J. and Ghosh, A. K. (2006)
The effect of online status on the impact factors of general internal medicine journals
Netherlands Journal of Medicine, 64 (2): 39-44, February 2006
11.    Moed, H. F. (2005)
Statistical Relationships Between Downloads and Citations at the Level of Individual Documents Within a Single Journal (abstract only)
Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 56(10): 1088-¬1097, published online 31 May 2005
12.    Brody, T. and Harnad, S. (2005)
Earlier Web Usage Statistics as Predictors of Later Citation Impact
Author eprint, 18 May 2005, University of Southampton, School of Electronics and Computer Science, Journal of the American Association for Information Science and Technology, Volume 57, Issue 8, 2006, 1060-1072

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Position Statements on open access

Several organizations have published a statement on their policy with regard to open access publishing. Quite recently the British research councils published their statement on

There is a discussion going on in the Deutsche Forschungsgemenschaft, see

The Wellcome trust has published their statement at

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