Celebrating 10 years of showcasing leadership in Open Science in Europe

Storyline of OpenAIRE milestones


Riding the Open Access Wave

The journey officially begins on December 1. The OpenAIRE project contract is signed with the European Commission (EC) bringing together 38 partners from 27 EU countries.

The goal: Support the implementation of the EC and ERC Open Access pilot in Europe, via two main objectives:

  1. The establishment of a participatory European Helpdesk comprised of 27 National Open Access Liaison Offices.
  2. The operation of an e-Infrastructure for depositing and collecting OA publications, linked to administrative project data for the first time.


OpenAIRE services in the making

Building on previous efforts (DRIVER project) the consortium sets out to develop:

  • The OpenAIRE Guidelines for repository managers to include funding information
  • A Helpdesk to support researchers on how to deposit OA in institutional repositories
  • An “Orphan Repository” for publications hosted by CERN
  • A portal for accessing, claiming, monitoring of Europe’s OA publications output
  • A mechanism to gather usage data from repositories

The launch of OpenAIRE

December 2. 126 people gathered for the launch of OpenAIRE in Ghent: the launch of the technical services and the official first appearance of the OpenAIRE network.

The presence of Neelie Kroes, EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda signalled the strong commitment of the European Commission to support Open Access as part of the free movement of knowledge: “Open access is a legal and technical reality today. The question is no longer ‘if’ we should have open access. The question is about ‘how’ we should develop it further and promote it.”


Text and data mining on our radar

As an implementation project we were often asked by the EC to report on the outcome of the OA policy. This meant identification of grants, people, organizations. No IDs or linked entities anywhere on the horizon.

Pulling up our sleeves, we delved into exploring text and data mining (TDM) techniques and started testing out different ways to deliver these reports.

And we never stopped! OpenAIRE now operates a state-of-the-art backend TDM/ML pipeline of services extracting information, producing links, classifying publications, correlating funding, inferring knowledge. All, contributing to the production of a global Open Research Graph.

First exploration on research data practices

In anticipation of the data tsunami, we carried out a foresight study to explore the requirements, challenges practices, incentives, workflows, data models, and technologies to deposit, access, and manipulate research datasets.

The study compares subject domains from health, climate, ICT, social sciences & humanities and provides early stage recommendations on how to develop a general vs. subject specific OA infrastructure. With a focus on reproducibility and data linked to publications, the study gives us information to start preparing our services for the next phases.


Towards becoming a permanent e-Infrastructure

By 2011, OpenAIRE harvests from 300 validated institutional repositories. A second contract is signed with the EC (OpenAIRE plus) to solidify services and our national network, with two key aims:

  • Support the OA to publications beyond the restricted realm of publications from projects funded by the EC, effectively offering support and services to the entire scientific production of the European Research Area.
  • Enable cross-linking publications to their underlying research data.

Strengthening the national presence

Even though our nature from the start was ‘participatory’, the OpenAIRE network value is all the more visible and gradually becomes a reference point for open access at national level. The 27 Liaison Offices now become 33 National Open Access Desks (NOADs), signaling a more formal and permanent function as national ambassadors who support Open Access across Europe.

This symbolic move reflects the distributed nature of OpenAIRE and open access: supporting a global movement at a local level.

Zenodo is born: a global catch-all repository

Developed and hosted by CERN, Zenodo is the next phase of the OpenAIRE “Orphan Repository”. Researchers from all over the world are now able to deposit and share publications, data sets, software, reports and any other research related digital artifacts. Each submission is assigned with a digital object identifier (DOI), making stored items citable and shareable.

Did you know? Zenodo is derived from Zenodotus, the first librarian of the Ancient Library of Alexandria and father of the first recorded use of metadata, a landmark in library history.


Supporting EC’s Open Research Data pilot

The start of the next EU 7-year framework programme for (Horizon 2020) further strengthens the open access policy:

  • publications are OA by default for all programmes, all beneficiaries,
  • research data underlying research publications is open, taking into account protection of scientific information, commercialisation and IPR, privacy, security.

We intensify our work to make this transition happen. We devise an internal train-the-trainer programme for our National Open Access Desks, bringing them up to speed, ready to roll out this pilot. Research Data Management (RDM) and Data Management Plans (DMP) are fully embedded in our support activities, while Zenodo becomes a valuable asset.


Metadata Exchange Guidelines as the ‘glue’

OpenAIRE’s Guidelines are the cornerstone for building interoperability, paving the way for a linked scholarly communication ecosystem. Based on the success of the Guidelines for Literature Repositories, which have gradually been adopted by repository networks around the world, we co-produce with other organizations Guidelines for:

  • Aggregators, encompassing hierarchical aggregation (2014)
  • Open Access Journals accommodating the growing number of institutional OJS’s (2014)
  • Data Archives adopting and extending the DataCite Metadata Schema (2015)
  • CRIS, a result with close collaboration with EuroCRIS (2017)
  • Software, influenced by FORCE11, making software products citable (2017)
  • Other research products, incorporating all research outcomes as products in scholarly communication (2017)


Towards an open European scholarly commons

The third phase (OpenAIRE2020) marks the first shift from open access to open science. We add fresh ideas in the mix by:

  1. Operating a European CRIS by integrating data from various funding organizations. For the first time, OpenAIRE is linked to EC’s backend services making reporting easier for researchers and PI’s.
  2. Developing a prototype broker service to resolve cross-references between datasets and publications. A forerunner to the RDA Scholix initiative.
  3. Exploring indicators for measuring the impact of OA across Europe.
  4. Studying open peer review platforms for SSH for future implementations.
  5. Investigating research data protection, privacy law and confidentiality.

Global interoperability in the center

OpenAIRE becomes an active member in a global and connected infrastructure of open data sources. We partner with the Confederation of Open Access Repositories – COAR to align and connect regional networks of repositories around the world and collaboratively work on the harmonization of policy elements, adoption of standardized impact measures, publication tracking methods, metadata elements, vocabularies, researcher IDs.

LaReferencia, the Latin America repository network which brings together 9 countries, becomes a trusted partner and starts mirroring OpenAIRE services and practices in the region.

Birth of the European Open Science Cloud

The European Open Science Cloud is a flagship initiative bringing an open and seamless in Europe. We embrace it from the start as a great opportunity to better frame open science, and closely collaborating with European e-Infrastructures EUDAT, EGI, GÉANT and LIBER we issue a joint statement on the vision for EOSC:

1– Open, 2– Publicly funded and governed, 3– Researcher-centric, 4– Comprehensive, 5– Diverse and distributed, 6– Interoperable, 7– Service-oriented, 8– Social

Realizing that the broader scope of open science needs synergies at all levels (national, EU, global), we slowly shift our strategy into making OpenAIRE a central infrastructure in EOSC, both services and network.


Evaluating workflows for publishing in OA

Commencing a 2.5 year pilot on behalf of the EC to gather evidence on the Gold/APC route, we put forward a € 4mi fund for FP7 post-grant publications. Our key findings:

  • We set the rules, the publishers followed. Funders can enforce technical measures for a transition to a more integrated infrastructure: APC caps and workflows, good metadata, immediate linking to repositories.
  • Monitoring of APCs, research publishing trends and behaviours can and should be recorded at a global level. Initiatives like OpenAPC are of key value.
  • Non-APC journals are equally important. The library community is eager to offer good publishing venues and services, as shown by the € 400K we diverted from the original fund.

Linked Open Data services

This year marks a shift and focus on linked data: how we generate it and how we provide it to the community.

We extend our algorithms to include links to: funders/grants, around the world; data via DOIs and other types of PIDs; software with links to github, sourceforge; other types of research results e.g., clinical trials, protocols; patents from the EPO databases.

We enrich our portfolio with supervised and unsupervised machine learning algorithms and provide automated, extensible multi-dimensional classification and clustering.

We RDF-y OpenAIRE data and publish it for the first time as Linked Open Data connecting it to the LOD cloud.


New services in the horizon for a FAIR data ecosystem

The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship become a big part of open science. We start our next endeavour to better understand and help research communities to easily adopt open / FAIR practices.

Working with 5 communities from different disciplines (agriculture, economics, neuroinformatics, marine, digital humanities) we develop OpenAIRE-CONNECT:

  • an overlay service for communities to build their proprietary, tailored to their needs Science Gateway
  • reaching out to all underlying OpenAIRE content
  • making it easy to share, link, disseminate and monitor all research results
  • hooking open publishing services, policies and practices.

First Open Science FAIR conference

We conceived the Open Science Fair conference as a place where different players from all over the world put forward their solutions, align and converge: a fair for open science.

Collaborating with similar minded projects (OpenMinTeD – text & data mining, OpenUP – review-dissemination-impact of science, FOSTER – skills and training) we held a 3-day conference in Athens in September and brought together a diverse international audience.

From Jeffrey Sachs, one of the world’s leading experts on economic development for UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) who put open science in the wider policy agenda, to the way we learn to better communicate via theater/role playing, the event offered a comprehensive 360° view of the current global open science dynamics.

The community embraced the conference, and the biennial OSFair was born.

Νext stop: Porto 2019.

Open Innovation

Via an Open Innovation programme, initially allocating an € 80K fund, we provided the means and tools to make OpenAIRE a stimulus for entrepreneurship, a platform for learning and innovation and open collaborations, a place to play, to create, to learn, to mentor and to invent.

  • Infrastructure components: OJS signposting, DSpace resourceSync, Dataverse OpenAIRE compatibility – 4Science
  • CERIF-XML Guidelines for CRIS Managers for METIS – euroCRIS
  • The OpenAIRE MatchMaker, a recommender for researchers / institutions to find collaborators – Know-Center
  • VIPER, a visualization discovery tool for publications / datasets – Open Knowledge Maps
  • Data2Paper, streamlining the data paper publication workflow – Jemura Ltd

This call is followed by one in 2019 with a € 360K fund.


Towards a collaborative effort for EOSC

The next stage of OpenAIRE (OpenAIRE-Advance) starts. The primary goal is to consolidate our services and network (34 now, with Israel joining in) and work to shift the momentum to Open Science. All in the realm of the European Open Science Cloud.

Collaboration with other European e-/Research Infrastructures is high on our agenda and our goals is to make our services fully interoperable in end-to-end research workflows. We work together to implement the first version of the EOSC portal, launched in November 2018 in a celebratory event in Vienna.

In the end, we are happy to see that OpenAIRE becomes a member of the EOSC Executive Board, a recognition for our efforts and achievements.

Our first service catalogue

For the first time we organized and curated a catalogue of our services. A learning process for us to better understand how our users use them, and how to improve our interaction with them and other collaborators. All our services use a single-sign-on, interoperable with EOSC.

Researchers: Amnesia – Anonymize, Argos – DMP, Zenodo – Deposit, EXPLORE – Discover, Claim, CONNECT – Research Community Gateway

Content providers: PROVIDE – register, validate, metrics, exchange , ScholExplorer – resolve publication-data links

Policy makers: MONITOR – Monitoring services

3rd party providers: DEVELOP – APIs (REST, SPARQL, OAI-PMH)

From a project to a legal entity

September. OpenAIRE becomes a fully-fledged organization, with the establishment of a legal entity. Four founding members come together and form OpenAIRE A.M.K.Ε., a non-profit partnership, to ensure a permanent presence and structure (Greece, Germany, Portugal, Norway). More members closely follow, with a big expansion foreseen in 2019-2020.

This is a big step for all partners as reflects on our role and sustainability, services, decision structures, and most importantly on how the world views us and the responsibility that brings along.

Another great journey begins!


Beyond the Lab: reaching out to citizen-scientists

Open Science goes beyond academia and our desire is to learn how open e-Infrastructures are potentially used by non-researchers. Working with two members of Open Schools for Open Societies, EllinoGermaniki Agogi (GR) and Ciência Viva (PT) we reached out to a network of 10,000 schools in Europe, to explore the potential use of OpenAIRE for students to share data from their science projects.

Our results? We facilitated the use of HELIX, the Greek OpenAIRE compatible national infrastructure, to publish open data from self-made seismographs from schools, ready to be analyzed by students and others. We also established the “Open Schools Journal for Open Science”, the first European peer review scientific journal created for, and curated by students.

OpenAIRE Open Research Graph: because relationships matter

For the past 9 years we have been collecting metadata from 1000’s of sources and text mined it to evaluate the openness of Europe’s research results. And all these years we have been asking ourselves again and again: What if we made an effort to build some knowledge out of the collected data? What if we created a scholarly communication knowledge base, thoroughly and consistently populated, encompassing all scholarly entities, relying on rich metadata, PIDs, and links?

And we did! Knowing the possibilities would be endless for discovery, new knowledge, monitoring, last year we put some big data processes in place to produce an open, global, publicly owned science graph with ~110Mi publications, ~10Mi datasets, ~180K software, ~7Mi other products with 480Mi (bi-directional) semantic links between them.

OpenAIRE Grows

October. OpenAIRE A.M.K.E. continues to grow, welcoming 12 new regular members and 3 associate members. Another 16 members are in line, bringing the total to 31 members by March 2020.

Six Standing Committees shape the strategic arm of the organisation with many committed and qualified individuals engaging in the process. This enlargement reaffirms our commitment to serve the mission of Open Science and constitutes a step towards becoming the foundation for national coordination in Europe, achieving long-term sustainability and economies of scale.

Looking forward to welcome new members!

Join the #peopleofopenaire

OpenAIRE has been realised only through the hard work and dedication of our fantastic network and committed individuals, and the support of our funders, the European Commission. We had a clear and ambitious vision from the start and have carried this through to realise a vibrant, dedicated and successful infrastructure.

In this spirit, the team are wholeheartedly motivated to continue and intensify our activities and deliver open science across Europe and beyond. May the next ten years be equally fruitful!

Thank you for your support over the years.

OpenAIRE has been funded over the years by the European Union’s FP7 and H2020 programmes under Grant Agreement No’s: 246686, 283595, 643410, 731011, 777541.