Monday, August 22, 2016

CHORUS meets Japan

By David Wojick, Ph.D.

Synopsis: CHOR, Inc., which operates CHORUS, has signed a Letter of Agreement with the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), for a six-month Pilot project to explore developing a CHORUS-like system for JST funded articles. This is a major step toward making CHORUS functionality global.

 The CHOR, Inc press release describes the project this way:

"CHOR and JST will work together to explore ways to improve the monitoring of public accessibility of content reporting on JST-funded research. Our collaboration will improve Japanese funder information in the Crossref Open Funder Registry, enable linking via metadata (based on Crossref funding data) from the Chiba University institutional repository to published articles reporting on JST-funded research on CHOR publisher members' sites, and develop a customized Dashboard and Search Portal (including ORCID IDs, links to datasets, and more)." 

CHOR declined to elaborate on this project, saying wait until we have some results, but research provides some useful background.

The key issue is repositories. Japan has no national OA policy but they do have a national institutional repository policy. There is a national system of repositories, mostly run by university libraries. There are 196 Japanese repositories listed in OpenDOAR.

Pilot participants include Chiba University, one of the largest national universities in Japan. Chiba's sizable repository is called CURATOR, with about 90,000 items, of which about 25,000 journal articles.

Here is Chiba's description of the repository:

"CURATOR (Chiba University's Repository for Access to Outcomes from Research) captures, preserves and makes publicly available intellectual digital materials from research activities on Chiba University campuses, including peer-reviewed articles, theses, preprints, statistical and experimental data, course materials and softwares. CURATOR is intended to function as the portal for the outcomes from Chiba University's research activities."

JST is a relatively small funding agency, with a budget around 136 billion yen or about 1.36 billion dollars. Of this about 50% is specifically for basic research, which is where most journal articles come from.

Significantly, JST does have an OA policy. In fact they issued it in April 2013, just two months after the OSTP memo establishing the US policy. Not surprisingly, it mandates repository deposit. It is pretty emphatic about honoring publisher consent, except that it also says that the embargo period should be less than 12 months.

The English version seems a bit strained. Here is the relevant OA mandate text:

"Using the institutional repositories that are promoted by the national policy as a basis, JST will implement this open accessibility only with the explicit consent of the journal the researcher has published in and within the embargo time period of the institutional repository, and will clearly state the above in the application guidelines**. Moreover, it will also be possible to implement open accessibility by publishing papers in open access journals. While respecting the freedom of publication of researchers and making use of the system of institutional repositories, JST aims to make the results of research funded by JST free to view in full on the internet as soon as possible after publication.

While coordinating with the relevant agencies, JST will implement the following measures in relation to making research results freely accessible:
- JST will take steps to reduce the workload on researchers involved in gaining the consent of the journal in which they have published and submitting to the institutional repository.
- As standardization of academic information is important to open accessibility, JST will promote
international Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number assignment as well as using the Japan Link Centre.
-  Although the repositories of institutions will be used in general, in cases of institutions without one JST will consider setting up and operating its own repository.
Since the JST-managed 'J-STAGE' has an open access function, JST will also be able to prepare a platform of open access journals to academic societies.
** The embargo period is supposed to be less than 1 year, and the paper contents to be made public should be as per Author's final document and so on."
Presumably what the pilot will try to demonstrate is that the publishers can identify articles from Chiba authors reporting on research funded by JST. The press release mentions improving Japanese funder information in the Crossref Open Funder Registry and this will be essential for success. This is all very small scale, as a pilot should be, but with great potential. To begin with it could expand to the entire repository system. What is pioneering here is the CHORUS concept, which is providing the article to the user via the publisher rather than the repository. 

Beyond that there is the prospect of a National OA Standard for Japan, which might include CHOR functionality. There are rumors to the effect that a national standard may be in the works, which may be the impetus for this project. JST actually has a mission to further scientific and technical communication.

Then there is what may be the ultimate challenge. This is to extend the CHOR-Crossref system to Japanese language content, of which there is a great deal. Most of the CURATOR content is in Japanese and there are many Japanese language journals. The Japanese are world leaders in computer technology so they may well want to take this giant step. More information on some of Japan's OA technology initiatives can be found here.

In this context I would like to point to a past project of my own that helps to solve the multi-language problem. It is the portal, which I helped the Energy Department's Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) develop. OSTI hosts this international gateway to approximately 100 national science collections from more than 70 participating nations. Multilingual translation capabilities are available for ten languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. In particular, a search query entered in one language is translated into all the available languages, for searching those language collections. The results are then translated back into the user's language. This was my idea. More information is available at

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