EUA joins the global coalition of organisations that endorses the concerns raised by the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) about the report “Data Repository Selection: Criteria that Matter”, which proposes a set selection criteria for data repositories under the umbrella of the FAIRsharing initiative.
Advancing data sharing and embedding it into the scholarly communication process is an important priority for many stakeholders. Improving the services provided by repositories to researchers is therefore on the agenda for various communities, including scholarly publishers. However, while acknowledging the relevance of this initiative, EUA regrets the lack of a concerted approach with the communities concerned. The Association also clearly states that researchers around the world must have a choice about using community-managed institutional, national, domain or generalist data repositories.
COAR and other organisations have raised concerns about the over restrictive nature of the criteria, bearing the risk of forcing researchers in their choice. The COAR response indeed explains that many criteria included in the report are “not currently supported by most domain or generalist data repositories, in particular the dataset-level requirements.” It further cautions that “if implemented by publishers, this will have a very detrimental effect on the open science ecosystem by concentrating repository services within a few organizations, further exacerbating inequalities in access to services.”
In this regard, EUA recalls the draft UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science which emphasises that “Open Science services should be viewed as essential research infrastructures, governed and owned by the community […] reflecting the diverse interests and needs of the research community and society.” Community-managed institutional, national, domain or generalist data repositories are fundamental building blocks of the global Open Science landscape.
Selection criteria should be designed with the ambition of identifying existing infrastructures and their benefits, and guiding researchers to the venues that suit their research needs, community practices, funder or institutional policies, or national legislation. These standards must be designed through a transparent process with the involvement of the academic and repository community. Publisher needs must be included, but when advanced without proper consultation they risk a misalignment with the needs of other actors. Efforts should therefore build on existing community standards and initiatives, such as CoreTrustSeal or the COAR Community Framework for Good Practices in Repositories.