Narcis refreshed, but not improved

Narcis is the overarching repository of (Open Access) repositories in the Netherlands. The website was entirely refreshed last week. It got a fresh, modern look. This new look was badly needed.
What did not change was the underlying database and quality of the data. That is a rally missed opportunity. Changing the paint, where repairing the woodwork is really needed is actually a waste of time and money.

Of course Narcis can’t repair it’s framework without the co-operation of the underlying repositories. With at least all universites buying in to better Current Research Information Systems (CRIS) this is the moment to prepare Narcis for the future.

I have pleaded on this blog before to make Narcis the comprehensive metadata aggregator for all scholarly output in the Netherlands. Not only Open Access (OA) publications. But the comprehensive university output. The numbers for the official VSNU reports on scholarly productivity should be based on Narcis, and all metadata underlying those reports should become verifiable in Narcis. This improves the transparency of reporting and transparency of the generated reports. Then, it should go without saying that meaningful reports of the status of Open Access in the Netherlands, as requested by the minister of education, should be generated on the basis of Narcis.

Narcis should serious work on the deduplication of all information. Currently many metadata descriptions reported by separate universities are reported separately, leading to over reporting of actual figures. Based on the estimated of national co-publlication, an overreporting of at least 20% is currently expected. Narcis should merge those records and offer link outs to all repositories contributing the metadata. This deduplication can be greatly improved if they also make better use of standard identieifers such as the Digital Object Identifier (DOI). Currently the DOI is not part of the metadata exchange protocol and this is a serious miss of course.

Narcis should take up the role as metadata exchange platform. e.g. If Groningen and Wageningen have both a co-publication and there is an OA version available in Groningen. There should be service that Wageningen can use to check and harvest that OA version as well and thus safeguard the item on basis of the Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe (LOCKSS) principle. Similar for the exchange of Digital Author Identifiers (DAI). If Utrecht has indicated a DAI for an author in Utrecht in a co-publication with Wageningen, we should be able to resolve the DAI from the author in Utrecht through Narcis and complete the metadata in our systems, starting with the CRIS of course, and harvest the DAI for the none Wageningen authors from Narcis.

Narcis as a link resolver. It should’s be too difficult to change Narcis into a link resolver to find OA versions of Toll Access articles. Exchange of the DOI would help of course, since you want to resolver on the article level and not on the journal level as is done in the current link resolvers. The benefits would be great to the Dutch public and the relevance of the individual repositories would increase.

Narcis got a new colour and letter type. It looks really nice now, but I look forward to bold steps in the direction of improving the database. Making the database an essential part in the Dutch repository infrastructure and boosting the importance and relevance of the institutional repositories.

One thought on “Narcis refreshed, but not improved”

  1. Dear Wouter,

    We are always interested in your opinion. Most times we agree with your remarks and your criticism is always constructive.

    We are glad you like the new colours, but it was not just a change of paint. The change we made was a change in corporate identity. NARCIS had the corporate identity of the KNAW (http://www.knaw.nl) and since NARCIS became a service of DANS, we changed it to the corporate identity of DANS.

    We agree that the quality of the underlying database is far more important than the colors. But as service provider NARCIS cannot be more complete, or more accurate, than the content providers deliver. The metadata NARCIS contains is the metadata offered by the universities and other scientific research institutes.

    As discussed with the participants on the CRIS-NL conference, December 13th 2013, we would like to harvest metadata of ALL scientific output in the Netherlands. For some data providers this is already reality, for others not. To make NARCIS a complete and comprehensive metadata aggregator the willingness to offer all scientific output is essential. This is not a matter of new features or techniques, but a policy issue made by each individual institute.

    Duplication is indeed a problem and could be solved by the use of DOIs. But in the exchange of metadata the DOIs are not required and rarely used; most publications even do not contain a DOI anyway. As DANS we like the idea of deduplication, but on content level it is not possible to simply remove double items, since the content belongs to the individual institutes and all of them like to get credit for their work. So we need to find an other solution to this problem (maybe the way Google presents double items?).

    Exchange of metadata on the basis of DAI is already possible. With a SRU-query you can retrieve your publications on basis of the DAI. As example DAI 33714253X: http://sru.narcis.nl/sru?operation=searchRetrieve&version=1.1&maximumRecords=100&recordSchema=metadata&query=33714253X. Also in this case, as a service provider NARCIS cannot be more complete or better than the content providers.

    We have a common vision for the future, but again: NARCIS never can me more complete, more accurate than its content providers. And yes, NARCIS badly needs to offer more functionality.

    Best regards,

    The NARCIS team at DANS
    narcis [at] dans.knaw.nl

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