EU project to widen access to European research information

September 14, 2006

Brussels, 13 Sep 2006

A new EU-funded project will lay the foundations of a large-scale, pan-European public infrastructure for research information. Open-access to research information is vital for researchers. The long-term vision of the DRIVER (Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research) project is to create an knowledge infrastructure for European researchers, which could include any form of scientific resource, from reports, to research articles, to raw data to other media.

A number of countries and institutions already have repositories and networks which bring together a wide range of research content. A good example of this is the DARE Network in the Netherlands. Launched in 2004, DARE networks the digital data collections of all Dutch universities, as well as several related institutions, and allows users to access the information, which is arranged consistently. To date, DARE provides access to more than 75,000 digital records. The organisation behind DARE, SURF (the Dutch higher education and research partnership organisation which networks services, information and communications technology), is a partner in the DRIVER project.

In a similar way, the European Digital Repository Infrastructure will eventually be a virtual network of repositories from across Europe. Initially, the project will focus on linking 51 institutional repositories from the Netherlands, UK, Germany, France and Belgium. This early 'test-bed' version of the European Repository will offer users a number of services, such as search, data collection, profiling and recommendations.

The project will use a state-of-the-art digital library and repository technologies to ensure the successful harvesting and indexing of data from the individual repositories, and support interactions between DRIVER and end users. The project partners will also develop a set of standards to ensure interoperability of the various repositories in the network.

DRIVER will also run a series of workshops to encourage and ease the establishment of national networks of institutional repositories, with the aim of then integrating them into the European digital repository infrastructure. Workshops will be used to gain feedback from users on the new European infrastructure.

Ultimately, the project partners hope their virtual repository will build up a critical mass of research materials which will represent a powerful demonstration of Europe's research output.

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