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4th Conference on Free Access to Knowledge

 - 25/11/2009

3rd Conference on Free Access to Knowledge  logoThe 4th Conference on Free Access to Knowledge takes place on 26-27 November 2009 from 14:30 on 26th, 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 – the 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 The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) and co-financing from community funds, The Knowledge Society Operational Programme, POSC.

The RCAAP – Open Access Scientific Repository of Portugal, set up through the initiative of UMIC in 2008 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 is designed to be used freely by any institutions within the higher educational or scientific systems to house their repository while maintaining their own individual corporate identity or alternatively it can also be used to install such a system on the institution’s own computer system. 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 academic institutions within Portuguese higher education. Portuguese researchers are thus able to have an open access repository at their disposal 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, and particularly with its own MIT OpencourseWare.

With the setting up and development of the RCAAP Portugal has assumed a leadership position in the European Union in terms of the international movement to make available and expand open access scientific repositories and these have been taking on a greater role as new means of making the results of scientific research more available in the society of knowledge.

In fact the RCAAP, launched only one year ago at the 3rd Conference on Free Access to Knowledge, has shown significant development, given that it currently has 25 institutional repositories, covering all the state universities, some private universities, polytechnic institutes, state laboratories and research institutes, including around 35 500 documents, compared to the beginning of 2008 when there were only 3 institutional repositories with 7 300 documents. That is, in less than two years the number of institutional repositories has increased by more than eightfold, the number of documents has almost increased by fivefold and it has spread throughout the national public university system.

Establishing this repository at FCCN has been 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 GEANT Education and Research Network, and provides robust conditions for a permanent service and thus takes advantage of this installed infrastructure.

The launching of the RCAAP has reinforced the coherence of other e-Science services through the initiative and financing of UMIC which have been made available by FCCN using RCTS, such as the b-on: Biblioteca do Conhecimento Online Library, the central infrastructure of e-U: Virtual Campus, the high definition Videoconference service within the scientific and higher educational system, Zappiens – high definition Video Repository with digital management of copyright, the Voice Communication over IP (VoIP) for the scientific and higher educational system service, and the National infrastructure 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 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 80% of Portuguese Higher Educational Institutions, which in July 2008 was linked at 10 Gbps to the European GEANT Network, a more than eightfold increase in bandwidth from 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 OECD underlined this in its guidelines for access to research data from public financing which it published in 2007 (OECD Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data from Public Funding), 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 Council for Competitiveness-Research, 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 RepositóriUM in 2003. Repositories of this type from 2007 onwards were made available by the University of Porto, ISCTE, the University of Évora and the University of Lisbon. In November 2006, the Council of Vice-Chancellors of Portuguese Universities signed up to the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities).

Last updated ( 24/02/2011 )