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Conference Report


D-Lib Magazine
November 2002

Volume 8 Number 11

ISSN 1082-9873

Report on the 2nd Workshop on the Open Archives Initiative, Gaining Independence with e-Print Archives and OAI

17 - 19 October 2002 CERN, Switzerland


Michael L. Nelson
Old Dominion University

Herbert Van de Sompel
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Carl Lagoze
Cornell University

Red Line


The 2nd Workshop on the Open Archives Initiative, on the theme of "Gaining Independence with e-Print Archives and OAI", was held 17 - 19 October 2002, in CERN Switzerland. This workshop [1] was the second CERN-hosted meeting focusing on the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) [2] and scholarly communication. The workshop was organized by a committee [3] coordinated by Raf Dekeyser (University of Leuven) and Corrado Pettenati (CERN). It was sponsored by the European Science Foundation, Joint Information Systems Committee UK, Open Society Institute and SPARC. Interest was extremely high; participation was capped at 130, and attendees represented 20 countries [4].

When compared to last year's meeting [5], this year's workshop showed discussions shifting from technical matters to economical, sociological and legal issues involved in transforming scholarly communication. The meeting also revealed a shift towards the development of added-value service providers, thus confirming the hypothesis that once data providers are available, service providers will emerge. At the meeting, the OAI Executive Committee (Carl Lagoze and Herbert Van de Sompel) announced that, since the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) has now been released as a stable specification, the OAI will return to its e-print roots, and start work on technical specifications to further increase interoperability between e-print repositories. The e-print activities will be coordinated by Carl Lagoze, Michael Nelson, Herbert Van de Sompel and Simeon Warner, and matters that will be addressed include the exchange of citations made in e-prints, rights statements, usage information and author information through the OAI-PMH.

Several reoccurring themes emerged during the workshop. At the technical level, a number of projects reported using the OAI-PMH in conjunction with OpenURL, a specification for reference linking currently being standardized by NISO. An informal breakout session discussed the usage of part of the emerging OpenURL specification for the exchange of citations via the OAI-PMH, and a test project along those lines will be organized. Two recurring sociological themes were: 1) the need to increase awareness regarding open archiving on the part of the contributing scholar and 2) the fundamental shift required in the evaluation of scholars by funding agencies and universities. Participants felt strongly that significant work remains in getting the evaluation processes to value open archiving and communication via electronic preprints. At two similar meetings held around the same time in Belgium, it was felt that scholarly participation in novel forms of scholarly communication would suffer unless the evaluation processes were revised and other evaluation metrics generated. Related to that, it was also noted several times that although universities and libraries were well represented at the workshop, scholarly and professional societies were not adequately represented. These organizations would be the appropriate source for many of the proposed tasks, initiatives and endorsements for OAI projects.

The meeting had a total of 22 presentations with authors from 9 countries. Overall, the presentations were of outstanding quality. The videotaped presentations are available from the Workshop website [1]. The meeting began with an overview by Herbert Van de Sompel in which he discussed the new features and issues in the recently released version 2.0 of the (OAI-PMH). This presentation, and the one about speculative uses of the OAI-PMH given by Michael Nelson, were the only presentations that focused on the protocol itself. Several presentations reported on a variety of aspects involved in building open archives. The efforts reported on can be categorized as institutional repositories, discipline-oriented systems, or hybrids in which universities set up community-oriented solutions. Projects reported on included MathDoc (Germany), the California Digital Library eScholarschip program (USA), the MIT DSpace project (USA), the Electronique and HyperArticles at CNRS (France), and projects at Lund University (Sweden), a consortia of universities in the UK, the Max Planck Institutes (Germany), and Caltech (USA). Carl Lagoze presented the plans and status of the National Science Digital Library (NSDL). In his presentation, Carl outlined 3 levels of interoperation (each decreasing in complexity and richness): federation, harvesting, and gathering. Defining the level(s) of interoperability appropriate for institutional and discipline-based projects resonated as a theme throughout the workshop.

Alison Buckholtz addressed the workshop theme, "gaining independence", directly and highlighted SPARC's efforts to change the state of scholarly publishing. Fredrick Friend presented the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) and its strategy promoting author self-archiving and alternative journals that use new business models. Susanne Dobratz gave an interesting account of a survey by the Open Archives Forum project on European activities in the OAI realm. Two commercial projects were presented at the workshop. SciX is an EC-funded project working on an outsourcing option for building digital libraries (including OAI-PMH access). Scirus is the Elsevier-sponsored science search engine that harvests some of the publicly available OAI repositories. An interesting discussion followed the Scirus presentation by Femke Markus, speculating on Elsevier's willingness to make its augmented Scirus metadata harvestable in a manner similar to the approach taken in the NSDL project.

Overviews of free software systems for open archiving were provided. Jean-Yves Le Meur presented the CERN Document Server and Chris Gutteridge presented the system. MacKenzie Smith announced that MIT's DSpace software would be available for public download starting in November 2002.

The authors of this brief report share a tremendous excitement about the second OAI Workshop held at CERN. The Workshop revealed that an enormous momentum has been built in efforts to transform scholarly communication, not only through thinking and talking but, more importantly, through an abundance of concrete projects.


[1] 2nd Workshop on the Open Archives Initiative (OAI): Gaining independence with e-prints archives and OAI, October 17-19, 2002.

[2] The Open Archives Initiative.

[3] Organizing Commitee. See
< askArchive.php?a02333/a02333/moreinfo/organizing_committee.htm>.

[4] List of participants sorted per country. See

[5] The Workshop on the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) and Peer Review journals in Europe, March 22-24, 2001.

Copyright 2002 Michael L. Nelson, Herbert Van de Sompel and Carl Lagoze

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DOI: 10.1045/november2002-vandesompel