The 2020 Annual AGRIS Community Meeting was held online from 2 to 3 July with hundreds of members of the AGRIS network in attendance, representing more than 35 countries. The virtual meeting was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) as part of the Information 4 Innovation in Food and Agriculture (I4IFA), a series of collaborative online classes pooling expertise and experience from two leading agricultural organizations focusing on increasing the quality and impact of information, knowledge management and data exchange in food and agriculture research for development.
The virtual meeting allowed for many key AGRIS stakeholders, data providers, users and more to attend and participate in the meeting from all over the world. Throughout the two-day virtual meeting, attendees learned about the latest AGRIS developments and new partnerships from members of the AGRIS team and also had the opportunity to hear from AGRIS stakeholders about the benefits of utilizing AGRIS. Through this, the virtual workshop was able to enhance knowledge sharing and improve visibility and access to agricultural sciences and the technical content of agricultural research.
Maintained by FAO, AGRIS has been serving users worldwide through facilitating access to knowledge in agriculture, science and technology since 1974. AGRIS provides a great opportunity to increase analysis of agricultural performance and, consequently, help inform agriculture investment, innovation and policy to drive changes toward increasing sustainability in the agriculture sector. By contributing publications to AGRIS, organizations help to bridge the access gap for scientific literature and increase the flow and access of information in the domain of food and agriculture.
The AGRIS network is composed of up to 440 data providers distributed worldwide from 150 countries. AGRIS currently has about 12 million bibliographic records available in up to 90 languages. Since 2016, AGRIS has increased the number of records by 38%.
“The [AGRIS] team has been doing a great job to stabilize the infrastructure of AGRIS, which has paid off by the increase in users. From August 2019 to July 2020, we have increased the AGRIS usage statistics by 21.5% and in about 6 months there have been more than 4 million page views and about 2.4 million users visiting AGRIS.” - Imma Subirats, AGRIS Programme Manager, FAO
To further increase the amount of records available for use, AGRIS has been investing in strengthening data integration and discovery using semantic technologies and artificial intelligence (AI), which play a key role in content understanding and classification of high volume data. Data discovery and integration is one of the key elements for facilitating access to knowledge. While technology evolves and new integration methods appear, the volume of available data increases exponentially.
“Artificial intelligence was used to classify records relevant to AGRIS using pre-classified data. This allows AGRIS to discover and harvest data from external science repositories, enriching what AGRIS has to provide to its users.” - Carlos Bravo, AGRIS Software Engineer, FAO
Even more, AGRIS provided more in-depth information and demonstrations about how to utilize new services developed throughout 2019-2020 for AGRIS data providers. One of the new services, institutional sub-portals, are private areas on AGRIS including interactive reports and statistics about the usage statistics of data providers' records. This offers the ability for data providers to create reports and disseminate statistics about their records.
“It is our goal to continue to provide new, digital services for data providers. We started this journey thinking that the data providers needed the ability to at least access the statistics about the records that they submit into AGRIS; this is just the first step, we are planning to do a lot more.” - Fabrizio Cell, Technical Lead for AGRIS, FAO
On top of hearing from the AGRIS technical team, participants heard from several key AGRIS stakeholders during the panel session ‘what is the role AGRIS plays in food and agricultural sciences.’ The panelists discussed the challenges, benefits and advice to support the visibility and accessibility of research outputs in their respective countries. Panelists also explained the role of AGRIS in their countries and the major impacts AGRIS has provided.
“There are many benefits of participating in AGRIS. First of all, it is an international collaboration and partnership. The library participating helps to increase visibility and accessibility of agricultural contents issued in the Republic of Moldova in the information global space, it helps to facilitate the information and data exchange in the field of agricultural sciences and provides user services.” - Viorica Lupu, Deputy Director, Republican Scientific Agricultural Library of the State Agrarian University of Moldova (AGRIS data provider)
Importance of Open Data within AGRIS:
To improve the data exchange in food and agriculture, it is crucial to make information on agriculture globally available, which can be achieved by the use of open data. Open data is content that can be freely used, modified and shared by anyone for any purpose. When open data is useful and usable it becomes open knowledge. Open knowledge can create innovation, unexpected outcomes, collaboration and efficiency.
During 2020, AGRIS has been implementing the functionalities to facilitate the use and also a contribution to the AGRIS open data set initiative (ODS). The AGRIS ODS is an open data set, which can be shared with third parties and ensure an even wider dissemination of information about metadata records. Data providers who opt to join the initiative will increase the visibility and accessibility of their data. 150 AGRIS data providers have already joined the AGRIS ODS, which now contains 1 million records. It is crucial to continue to expand the AGRIS ODS.
Importance of services for AGRIS data providers:
To keep expanding the amount of records available within AGRIS, while also supporting a mutually beneficial relationship, it is necessary to continue to provide support to data providers and allow them to increase visibility of their metadata with new services.
“Data providers are key to AGRIS, they are very important because they actively contribute to the growth and importance of AGRIS. They provide their metadata. In Some situations, AGRIS contains very unique pieces of metadata only available in AGRIS and not in other places. This makes AGRIS a very unique place and it is very important to highlight that this is thanks to the data providers.” - Fabrizio Cell, Technical Lead for AGRIS, FAO
Importance of AGRIS in the scholarly communication environment:
There is a need for a shared infrastructure to make the research data and outputs discoverable from developing countries, which can be achieved in the scholarly communication environment. AGRIS is home to data sets of multilingual bibliographic resources and AGRIS promotes local and non-English research data and outputs, which are usually underrepresented in the mainstream scientific publications by making them findable and discoverable.
Access to scientific information and data is vital for research for development (R4D) in food and agriculture. In order to expand upon the current impact of the AGRIS platform, AGRIS plans to:
strengthen the connection between FAO and the AGRIS data providers
simplify and automate the process of submitting new data to AGRIS
build new services for data providers to increase visibility and accessibility of metadata provided to AGRIS
develop new partnerships
This work contributes to the five priorities of FAO to achieve a world without hunger, malnutrition and poverty sustainably, with a focus on the exchange of knowledge, information and data as a key approach towards achieving the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals.
More about AGRIS
Since 1974, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has supported Member Countries to make their research products visible and accessible, through AGRIS, the International System for Agricultural Science and Technology, one of the world’s leading public information services in food and agriculture. AGRIS focuses especially on scientific information produced in the Global South.
AGRIS provides a great opportunity to increase analysis of agricultural performance and, consequently, help inform agriculture investment, innovation and policy to drive changes toward increasing sustainability in the agriculture sector. The platform provides free access to more than 12 million records about publications in up to 90 different languages. It facilitates access to referring books, journal articles, monographs, book chapters, datasets and grey literature - including unpublished scientific and technical reports, theses, dissertations and conference papers in the area of food and agriculture.
‘What is AGRIS Today’ by Imma Subirats, FAO
Includes: benefits of utilizing AGRIS and submitting data to AGRIS; the AGRIS content evolution; usage statistics; the AGRIS audience and more.
'AGRIS Open Data Set (ODS). How it works, how to use it' by Fabrizio Celli, FAO
Includes: the vision and importance behind developing the open data set initiative within AGRIS, how to access and export data through AGRIS and the overall benefits of joining
‘Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) for data discovery and integration’ by Carlos Bravo, FAO
Includes: The AGRIS team has been investing in strengthening data integration and discovery using frontier technologies: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and AGROVOC play a key role in content understanding and classification of high volume data.
Includes: an introduction of a new service available in AGRIS: data provider dashboards, private areas on AGRIS including interactive reports and statistics about the number of visits to data providers' records (statistics tracked by Google Analytics).
‘The role of AGRIS in Scholarly Communication Landscape' by Ilkay Holt, FAO
Includes: an overview on the characteristics of agricultural sciences and its publishing landscape, explains the need for a shared infrastructure to make the research data and outputs discoverable from developing countries, and introduces the role of AGRIS in enabling it in the scholarly communication environment.
Linked Open Data Architectures: ICARDA Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning (MEL) by Enrico Bonaiuti, Monitoring, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)
Includes: ICARDA’s contributions to AGRIS and the role that AGRIS plays in the organization
AGRIS – An excellent capability for developing Food and Agricultural Sciences in Georgia by Marina Razmadze, central institute for scientific and technical information – Techinformi
Includes: Techinformi’s contributions to AGRIS and the role that AGRIS plays in the organization
'CSAL As Leading AGRIS Data Provider in the Russian Federation' by Elena Klimova, leading researcher of Russian FederationCentral Scientific Agricultural Library (CSAL)
Includes: CSAL’s contributions to AGRIS and the role that AGRIS plays in the organization
'The role of AGRIS-Moldova Center in the dissemination of agricultural information in the context of Open Access' by Viorica Lupu, Deputy Director, Republican Scientific Agricultural Library of the State Agrarian University of Moldova
Includes: State Agrarian University of Moldova’s contributions to AGRIS and the role that AGRIS plays in the organization
‘Thai AGRIS Centre moving toward knowledge base economy’ by Aree Thunkijjanukij, Ph.D., assistant to the President, Kasetsart University
Includes: Kasetsart University’s contributions to AGRIS and the role that AGRIS plays in the organization