The nearly ubiquitous deployment of repository systems in higher education and research institutions provides the foundation for a distributed, globally networked infrastructure for scholarly communication. However, repository platforms are still using technologies and protocols designed almost twenty years ago, before the boom of the Web and the dominance of Google, social networking, semantic web and ubiquitous mobile devices. This is, in large part, why repositories have not fully realized their potential and function mainly as passive, siloed recipients of the final versions of their users’ conventionally published research outputs.
While part of their success relies on their relevance and usefulness for their local institutions, from a global perspective few individual repositories are important in and of themselves. However, collectively, repositories have the potential to offer a comprehensive view of the research of the whole world, while also enabling each scholar and institution to participate in the global network of scientific and scholarly enquiry. As intended by the original initiatives around repositories and their interoperability (like the Open Archives Initiative – OAI), a distributed network of repositories can and should be a powerful tool to promote the transformation of the scholarly communication ecosystem, making it more research-centric, innovative, while also managed by the scholarly community. In this context, repositories will provide access to published articles as well as a broad range of artifacts beyond traditional publications such as datasets, working papers, images, software, and so on.
In April 2016, COAR launched a working group to help identify functionalities and technologies for repositories and develop a roadmap for their adoption. The group will share preliminary results with repository and scholarly communities in order to validate recommendations and ensure community input. The aim is to have a final report published in early 2017.