23 November 2006

The Wageningen Way to extend access to agricultural information

The Dutch Wageningen University and Research Centre (Wageningen UR) has long been a leader in education and research in life sciences, natural resources and agriculture. Today, it is a collaboration between Wageningen University, Van Hall Larenstein School of Higher Professional Education and research institutes in the field of life sciences, predominantly based in Wageningen.

According to its web site, the Wageningen UR Library participates in the entire process of knowledge communication at Wageningen UR by: selecting and acquiring scientific sources based on quality, reliably storing this information, making information available for education and research, giving open access, informing and assisting users, offering an excellent publication environment for scientific authors, and teaching students to evaluate information on the basis of its quality.

In recent years, the library has pioneered the provision of a "well-equipped information environment for work and study" (the so-called Wageningen Desktop Library) as well as an an excellent (complete) view of the scientific output of Wageningen UR.

In this latter area, open access is a key part of the service model and the library has created institutional repositories and is supporting open access journal publishing. Recent discussions of institutional repositories, for instance at the 2006 USAIN Conference at Cornell University, reveal that it is difficult to get the policies and incentives right. There seem to be more 'failures' than successes in this area.

The WUR Library however has set up Wageningen Yield (WaY) as 'the' access point to scientific and other publications originating from Wageningen UR. This public service allows users to find institutional outputs by author, title, subject area, or research unit/group.

It's also designed to save the time of researchers - they can use the Wageningen 'WaY' to generate lists of their own (or their team's) publications from the shared institutional repository. This provides an incentive for authors and research groups to submit their publications. There’s also a stronger incentive - submission of publications to the repository is a mandatory part of the reporting cycle for research projects. These inputs are done through the project information system METIS (that is also managed by the library).

Not content with providing access to this information through the Library's own web site, the Wageningen 'WaY' proactively makes the repository contents available through other services. Thus, the information can be searched through OAIster and Darenet - the search engine on all Dutch Institutional Repositories.

Recently, the library also joined forces with Elsevier's free science-specific search engine, Scirus, indexing the contents of the Wageningen UR open access repository. Hubert Krekels, manager of the WaY repository: "Working with Scirus not only increases the visibility of our repository, it also brings attention to the ever-growing fields of nutrition, health, nature and the living environments and especially the Open Accessible publications of Wageningen UR in these fields."

For many of us, just getting our institutional repositories and databases together and making them openly accessible is a major achievement. The folks at Wageningen show us that this is merely an intermediate step - the real challenge is to also get that content into the offerings of other information service providers and onto the virtual desks of researchers and academics.

As was mentioned earlier, the library is also looking at ways to publish Wageningen UR's primary journal literature under open access licenses. Complementing the Wageningen Yield, they recently set up some open access journals using the Open Journal Systems platform. The first such journal - NJAS: Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences - was recently launched and offers online access to the complete text of articles from the journal since 1982.

To keep up with such open access - and many other - developments at the Wageningen UR Library, visit the online newsletter (in English and Dutch)

This is the fifth in a series of profiles introducing information services and initiatives related to agriculture. It was drafted from contributions by Hugo Besemer.


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Anonymous managed dedicated server said...

Indeed a great blog, informative and orgainsed contents.

November 23, 2006  

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