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This observation was written by Caroline Winter, with thanks to Kathleen Shearer and Martha Whitehead for their feedback and contributions.

At a glance:

Title OpenAIRE Project
Creator Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL–ABRC) and OpenAIRE
Publication Date 2018
Keywords INKE partner activities, repositories, open infrastructure

In January 2018, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) began a collaboration with OpenAIRE, a European Open Science infrastructure organization, with the goal of improving the visibility of Canadian research. One of the outcomes of this collaboration is Canada Explore, a portal to research in Canadian institutional repositories.

This collaboration and the resulting portal contribute to CARL’s efforts to make Canada’s disparate research outputs available through a single interface, as part of a distributed, globally networked scholarly communication infrastructure. The collaboration will increase the discoverability of Canadian research, with an initial focus on work funded by Canada’s Tri-Agency, comprising the Canadian Institutes of Health (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). One of its primary goals is to capture funder relationships in order to enable the tracking of compliance with the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications (CARL n.d.-b; see “Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications” and “Compliance with Open Access Policy in Canada”). It will also enable a clearer view of the open access landscape in Canada.

The collaboration between CARL and OpenAIRE, coordinated by the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), was launched as part of OpenAIRE’s Advance project, a European Commission-funded project which aims to promote open scholarship in a global context through collaborations with stakeholders in Africa, Canada, Japan, Latin America, and the US (OpenAIRE 2018).


OpenAIRE (Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe) was founded in 2008 by the European Commission to promote and support the implementation of the European Research Council’s Scientific Council Guidelines for Open Access and the European Commission’s Seventh Research Framework Program (FP7), which required all funded research outputs to be openly available either through a journal or through a repository.

OpenAIRE, which has now become a legal entity, offers a number of services including the OpenAIRE metrics service and institutional, community and funder dashboards. It also offers National Open Access Desks (NOADs), policy helpdesks that provide training and support for researchers and institutions in depositing their work in repositories. In addition, it offers digital research infrastructure in the form of Zenodo, an all-discipline open repository developed with CERN as well as standards for linking data, through the adoption of persistent identifiers that help disambiguate research organizations (see “ORCID: Connecting Research and Researchers” and “The UK Persistent Identifier (PID) Consortium”).

The OpenAIRE Research Graph aggregates metadata from thousands of content providers (e.g., Zenodo, arXiv, OA journals) as well as from entity registries (e.g., ORCID, CrossRef) to create the research graph, on top of which OpenAIRE’s services are built. Through OpenAIRE Explore, users can search for and find publications, research projects, research data, research organizations, repositories, and other content providers (OpenAIRE n.d.).

This diagram of the OpenAIRE Research Graph by OpenAIRE is licenced under CC BY 4.0.

The Canada Explore Portal

Canada Explore is a customized portal for Canadian research that displays a subset of OpenAIRE’s Research Graph (OpenAIRE 2021). It provides a view of all records in the research graph with an affiliation with authors, institutions, or funders in Canada. The portal uses OpenAIRE’s data mining capabilities to capture funder relationships and other datapoints from the full text of publications that are not captured in the metadata. For example, as of October 2021 the portal showed 55,595 results that were funded by the CIHR, 37,671 of which were uncovered through text mining (CARL 2021, 24:05).

In order to support the inclusion of Canadian repository collections in the OpenAIRE Research Graph, the CARL Open Repositories Working Group (ORWG) is working with Canadian institutions to ensure their repositories can be harvested by OpenAIRE. This requires that repositories are compliant with the OpenAIRE Guidelines 4.0, which dictate a certain format for metadata. Literature repositories that are not able to become OpenAIRE compliant can ensure their metadata is harvested indirectly through the Canada Research Aggregator, developed by McMaster University Libraries. Canadian data repositories are made available to OpenAIRE through the Federated Research Data Repository (FRDR) Discovery Service (CARL n.d.-a).

To support greater participation in OpenAIRE, the ORWG is developing materials to help repository managers, and CARL has offered a series of webinars related to the CARL–OpenAIRE collaboration:

The CARL–OpenAIRE Collaboration and the INKE Community

In addition to CARL, the collaboration involves SSHRC—an INKE supporter and member of the Tri-Agency. Matthew Lucas, Executive Director, Corporate Strategy and Performance at SSHRC notes that the CARL–OpenAIRE collaboration is key to making Canadian research more open and more usable and to improving compliance with the Tri-Agency OA policy (CARL 2021). In addition to facilitating the tracking of compliance with the policy, this data can also help the Tri-Agency determine what barriers to compliance exist, how they can be overcome, and how compliance can best be monitored.

The CARL–OpenAIRE Collaboration and the Broader Academic Community

In addition to the benefits it brings to the Canadian community, the CARL-OpenAIRE collaboration also contribute to the broader community. For instance, as part of the project, CARL’s ORWG initiated the development of a plugin for DSpace 5 and 6, widely used repository platforms, to enable compliance with the OpenAIRE guidelines. This extension was led and funded by Queen’s University Library with additional funding from the University of British Columbia, Université Laval, Université de Montréal, the University of Saskatchewan, Vancouver Island University, and York University. This plugin is available to all DSpace repositories and will make it easier for repositories worldwide to comply with the OpenAIRE guidelines, which are also recommended for repositories that are part of Plan S (CARL 2019; CARL 2020; see “Plan S and cOAlition S”).

The CARL–OpenAIRE Collaboration and Open Scholarship

The collaboration between CARL and OpenAIRE highlights the role of infrastructure in advancing open scholarship. Open, community-led infrastructure such as OpenAIRE provides greater transparency around service provision, as well as an important layer of community governance. Vivian Lewis, the President of CARL, notes that open and community-led infrastructure is an important part of the vision described in the CARL Scholarly Communications Roadmap and the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science (CARL 2021; see “CARL Scholarly Communications Roadmap” and “UNESCO’s Recommendation on Open Science”).

Developing and optimizing this infrastructure requires the widespread adoption of metadata standards, vocabularies, and persistent identifiers, and these are to the Canada Explore portal and to open scholarship more broadly.

This project highlights the global nature of open scholarship. As noted in a University Affairs article about the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy, for instance, the harvesting of FRDR metadata into OpenAIRE’s Research Graph has made Canadian research visible and available to the international research community (Voinigescu 2021). Natalia Manola, the CEO of OpenAIRE, notes that “research is global: whatever we do in Europe, it cannot stay in Europe. Whatever you are doing in Canada cannot stay in Canada”: what is needed is “a global open infrastructure with decentralised nodes: shared responsibilities, shared resources, shared governance” (19:50). As an example of this, by improving the discoverability and interoperability of Canadian research outputs, the portal increases its visibility in the global research landscape.

Works Cited

CARL (Canadian Association of Research Libraries). 2019. “Collaborating to Support Greater Visibility and Discoverability of Open Scholarship – DSpace 5 & 6 Extension Will Soon Enable Support for New OpenAIRE Guidelines.” December 2, 2019. CARL.

CARL (Canadian Association of Research Libraries). 2020. “Collaborating to Support Greater Visibility and Discoverability of Open Scholarship – Dspace 5 & 6 Extension Now Available to Support ORCID and New OpenAIRE Guidelines.” May 20, 2020.

CARL (Canadian Association of Research Libraries). 2021. “CARL–OpenAIRE Collaboration Webinar (Oct. 26 2021).” YouTube, Nov. 1, 2021.

CARL (Canadian Association of Research Libraries). n.d.-a. “How Can You Participate?”

CARL. n.d.-b. “Why is This Project Important?”

OpenAIRE. 2018. “OpenAIRE Advance.” April 20, 2018.

OpenAIRE. 2021. “CANADA.EXPLORE: Discovering Canadian Research Outputs.” December 13, 2021.

OpenAIRE. n.d. “About.” OpenAIRE Research Graph.

Voinigescu, Eva. 2021. “New Tri-Agency Policy Aims to Make Research Data Management a Priority.” University Affairs. June 15, 2021.