Live-blogging the 2009 Vancouver PKP Conference

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Implementing open access in agricultural research: the experience of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation

Session: Implementing open access in agricultural research: the experience of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation

Presenter: Patricia Rocha Bello Bertin

Background: The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation‘s (Embrapa) mission is to provide feasible solutions for the sustainable development of Brazilian agribusiness through knowledge and technology generation and transfer. Read more here.


Embrapa is a governmental organization that is 36 years old, has 38 research units, 3 service units, 13 central divisions and works in every Brazilian state. Their mission is to provide feasible solutions for the sustainable development of Brazilian agribusiness through knowledge and technology generation and transfer.

As background context, agricultural science is one of the most important Brazilian contributions to global scientific production (4% of global production). Research outputs are dispersed worldwide and there is poor research assessment tools, resulting in low visibility. Embrapa is a prolific publisher, producing 67,916 articles in total from 2000-2007.

Embrapa has an open access project, whose objective is “to propose and implement a model for scientific information management based on open access statements and policies”. They make available both their internal data providers (e.g. institutional repository, institutional electronic journals) and external data to the public. Embrapa’s five scientific journals have never followed the business model of large publishers so were well suited to the open access model. The Brazilian Journal of Agricultural Research’s first electronic version was created in 1997. Recently, the OJS has been asked to solve other institutional needs and is focusing on that.

Institutional Repository: They have developed a number of systems for scientific information organization and retrieval. They had identified a need to integrate processes and technological platforms. A system was developed for capturing all scientific production available in the 39 homepages of Embrapa’s Research Units and automatically adds them into the institutional repository (6,400+ items).

An example of one of their systems is Ainfo, a system for librarians’ management used to monitor the Research Units’ scientific production and the researchers’ progress in improving their scientific production. The Ainfo integration into the respository was found to be strategic for the success of the Open Access implementation, since the obligation of evidencing the scientific production already has a policy of compulsory deposit. Another example is an experimental installation of DSpace (1.5.2 version) wth access restricted to internal user. 

The Open Access mandate policy benefits form instituional policies which obligate the researcher to communicate and proove scientific production, and simultaneously benefits the organization to be sharing this knowledge.

The Tech Side

Service provider building: Open source metadata harvesting tools’ evaluation (PKP Metadata Harvester, MOD AI, OAI Harvester, OAI Arc, JOAI Harvester, and OAI Harvester OCKC. Aspects considered include update and availability of new versions, the web interface fo rdata collection, the users interface for searching, the documentation support offered for setting and installating the metadta collection tool. To date, they have identified 261 data providers of interest to Embrapa. 



Analysis / Issues / Reactions

The focus of the presentation seemed to be on the establishment of the system and what it offers, rather than on how it is used by those outside of Embrapa. I was curious to know, as a way of judging the utility of these efforts and what they might offer as a model for other similar specialist research institutions, what the take-up has been from the public and specifically, from a non-academic audience (e.g. is there anything that farmers access and use? extension workers? NGO staff?)

In terms of an international dissemination that could make the research coming from a specialist, innovative research organization accessible to other development countries, language access is an issue. The public site is in English, Spanish and Portuguese and it appears that the English site is slightly more limited than the Portuguese versions. 

Despite these issues, the profiling of this initiative offers a potential model of how a large governmental body can innovate integrated platforms by which to share its knowledge and tools with a broader audience in a more equitable fashion.




July 10, 2009   Comments Off on Implementing open access in agricultural research: the experience of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation

Blogging the PKP Conference

This is a blog for the PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference 2009 in Vancouver, Canada. A group of graduate students in LLED565D: Developments in Access to Knowledge and Scholarly Communication are live-blogging the conference.  Postings on the conference sessions will be up on this blog right after each session ends. At a later time, we will be editing our posts as necessary.


July 2, 2009   Comments Off on Blogging the PKP Conference