A webinar on “Open Access Progress and Promise in the CGIAR Consortium” took place on 10th of April at 11:00am (CEST). The presentation delivered by Piers Bocock, Director of Knowledge Management and Communication at the CGIAR Consortium, provided an overview and update on the CGIAR Consortium’s progress in Open Access, including some of the challenges and opportunities of advocating for Open Access across the Consortium. Piers Bocock is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of the Consortium’s Knowledge Management, Communications, and IT strategies, leveraging best practices in these disciplines to help the Consortium deliver on its mandate. The session was moderated by Johannes Keizer, team leader of the FAO AIMS team of the United Nations. CGIAR (formerly the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) is an international organisation which funds and co-ordinates research into agricultural crop breeding with the goal of “reducing rural poverty, increasing food security, improving human health and nutrition, and ensuring more sustainable management of natural resources”.
Some of the key points of the presentation were the following:
- The CGIAR network currently consists of 15 CG research centers around the world, working on agricultural research & extension, such as IFPRI, ILRI, CIMMYT, Bioversity International etc.;
- The CGIAR covers major horizontal research programs/themes, like Wheat, agriculture for nutrition and health research;
- CGIAR will setup a CG-level harvester available at http://open.cgiar.org, after all CGIAR centers implement their repositories – using similar metadata standards;
- All information related to the Open Access policy of CGIAR is publicly available at http://www.cgiar.org/resources/open/ ;
- A number of guidelines are to be developed, including the use of minimum CG CoreMetadata (DC related) cross-walks/mappings. There is a Data Management Workforce reviewing and approving CG Core Metadata, based on Dublin Core and the OpenAIRE recommendations;
- The guidelines will include potential repository set-up options, vocabularies for CG centers that do not currently have one;
- About 5M of funding supporting the OA mandate of CGIAR have been secured for the next 3 years, as well as a lot for capacity building sub-grants. If approved, to start after May on http://open.cgiar.org. Start on spatial commons, maybe use case is AATP Virtual Information Platform.
- Important collaborations for CGIAR and its Open Access initiative would be the ones with CIARD and the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN); the 1st joint GODAN/CIARD Consultation in April 2014 will set the bases for this kind of collaboration.
More information is available in the following presentation as well as the recording of the webinar.
Of course these are great news, coming from one of the largest networks of agricultural research worldwide, and further support the open access movement that seems to be one of the hottest topics of the last years. Having the wealth of agricultural research outcomes of large networks like CGIAR available under open licenses is a big step forward and a great benefit for the stakeholders who can use them in order to either continue their research or to find ways to apply the research outcomes in real practice.
In the specific case of CGIAR, it seems that things will not stop at the announcement; instead, there is a solid plan for guiding the CGIAR Research Centers through applying the open access policy, respecting the specific features that each one of them may have, developing the guidelines, providing the technical (and not limited to it) support and last but not least, securing the funds needed for this transition. In addition, an important point is that CGIAR has already identified potential risks and issues and has a plan for tackling them, while the long-term plan presented shows that everything is carefully planned and there is no rush for doing everything ASAP. I personally believe that this should be a case study to be used an a good practice for further attempts of organizations to convert to open access and I am almost sure that the next related announcements from CGIAR will further confirm my belief.
In the meantime, everyone is invited to contribute his opinions on open data in agriculture and nutriton in the “E-Consultation on Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition“, which runs online from Monday 14th April to Friday 2nd May – on top of that, related interesting discussions and updates will take place during the 1st GODAN/CIARD Consultation, which will take place between 22-24 of April 2014 at the FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy and will allow stakeholders to meet and exchange ideas on opening up data & knowledge in the fields of agriculture and nutrition.