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3rd Conference on Free Access to Knowledge

 - 14/12/2008

3rd Conference on Free Access to Knowledge  logo The 3rd Conference on Free Access to Knowledge took place on 15-16 December 2008 at the University of Minho-Braga (Amphitheatre B1, Pedagogic Complex II - Gualtar Campus), organised by the Documentation Services of the University of Minho with the support of FCCN – Foundation for National Scientific Computation, under the scope of the project to set up the Open Access Scientific Repository of Portugal (RCAAP – Repositório Científico de Acesso Aberto de Portugal) with financing by Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), and with the co-financing of the Operational Programme for the Knowledge Society (POSC).

The RCAAP - Open Access Scientific Repository of Portugal, set up through the initiative of UMIC in 2007 in a project carried out by FCCN in collaboration with the University of Minho, is a computer platform for the repository of academic information, in open access format, which is made permanently accessible by FCCN.

This repository has been made available for free use by any institution within the higher educational academic system to store academic and scientific information in its repository, with the individualised corporate identity of the institution itself such as is possible on a system located on its own information services. The new repository enables the integration of a coherent system of metadata and open access scientific repositories previously existing in the country, thus ensuring the integration of the open access repositories of scientific information from all the academic institutions within Portuguese higher education. Portuguese researchers will thus be able to have at their disposal an open access repository at a national level which will provide results of academic activity.

The computer platform supporting the repository was developed from the open source software DSpace, created by MIT precisely for repositories of this type and presently in use at various sites in the world, particularly with its own MIT OpencourseWare.

Portugal has thus in this way created in a coherent and integrated national manner, an example at a global level of making available and expanding its open access scientific repository which has been taking on an increasing role as new tools for making information available come on stream as a result of scientific research activity within the knowledge society.

This repository being at FCCN is particularly appropriate, given that it creates an evident economy of resources and integration on a national scale, and in this way can achieve the high connection speeds which FCCN offers through the Portuguese Science and Education Network, that is, the Science, Technology and Society Network (RCTS – Rede Ciência Tecnologia e Sociedade), which makes computer connections available to higher educational institutions and international connection to the European Education and Research Network GEANT, and provides robust conditions for a permanent service and thus takes advantage of this installed infrastructure.

The repository which is now being launched helps reinforce the coherence vision of the other e-Ciência services set up through the initiative and financing of UMIC with the services of FCCN concerning RCTS, and b-on: The Online Knowledge Library, the central infrastructure of the e-U: Virtual Campus, the high definition Videoconference service within the higher education and scientific systems, the Zappiens – High definition video repository with digital copyright management (contents in portuguese), the VoIP Communication service for the higher education and scientific systems (contents in portuguese), the National infrastructure Node of the National Grid Initiative.

In this way the advanced broadband services which have been developed and made available by FCCN in the RCTS have been reinforced through the carrying out of UMIC’s initiatives at a national level within a perspective of reinforcing the cohesion of the whole higher educational and scientific system. As a result of all these initiatives, the RCTS has become the 1st New Generation Network in Portugal, with its own extensive infrastructure consisting of fibre optical cable functioning at 10 Gbps which already covers more than 70% Portuguese Higher Educational Institutions, which in July 2008 were also connected to the European GEANT network at 10 Gbps, thus achieving an eightfold increase in bandwidth since the middle of 2005, and which, as should be the case with any New Generation Network, includes a varied panoply of advanced services creating a major impact on the community it serves, characteristics which, together, make this one of the most developed educational and research networks at a national and global level.

The advantages of dynamising and making Open Access Academic Repositories of information and academic data available have been widely recognised. The OCDE underlined this in its guidelines for access to research data from public financing which it published in the OECD Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data from Public Funding in 2007, and the prestigious British organisation which finances health science projects, the Welcome Trust has, from October 2006 onwards, made it a requirement that the results of R&D projects which it finances either totally or partially must be made available in open access format, and an identical policy has been adopted by the Social and Economic Research Council, the Medical Sciences Research Council and the Environmental Sciences Council of the United Kingdom, as well as the NIH – National Institutes of Health in the USA. A growing number of North American Universities have also opted for open access policies regarding academic and scientific content, amongst which is MIT, under the scope of MIT OpencourseWare, and Harvard University.

Further initiatives with the scope of the European Union include: The European Competitivenss Council – Research (news in Portuguese), under the Presidency of the Portuguese Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, José Mariano Gago, unanimously approved the proposed conclusions “Opening of Systems providing Access to Scientific and Technological Information” Scientific Information in the Digital Age in November 2007 which were prepared on the initiative of the Portuguese Presidency of the EU with the involvement of UMIC; the European Research Council (ERC) in December 2007 decided that all publications resulting from projects financed by it would have to be placed in open access repositories ERC Scientific Council Guidelines for Open Access; in March 2008 the Association of European Universities approved the Recommendations of its Working Group on Open Access Recommendations from the EUA Working Group on Open Access adopted by the EUA Council concerning the establishment of institutional repositories of scientific information produced by European universities.

In Portugal the University of Minho was a pioneer in the Open Access Academic Repository movement, having set up RepositórioUM in 2003. From 2007 onwards repositories of this type were made available at the University of Porto, ISCTE, the University of Évora and the University of Lisbon. In November 2006 CRUP – The Council of Rectors of Portuguese Universities, joined the Berlin Declaration concerning Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.

Last updated ( 07/03/2011 )