Newsletter. VOA3R Special Issue, Summer 2011

Agricultural Information Management Standards (AIMS)
Newsletter. VOA3R Special Issue
Summer 2011

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In collaboration with community members, the AIMS Team is pleased to announce a series of special newsletters on topics of interest to the community at large. This first issue is dedicated to the repository initiative VOA3R and contains an interview with its project leader, Miguel-Ángel Sicilia. Also featured: news, events and activities of the last 3 months.


What is VOA3R?

The Virtual Open Access Agriculture & Aquaculture Repository (VOA3R) is a 3-year initiative that was launched in June 2010, funded by the European Commission under the CIP PSP programme. It brings together 14 organizations from 10 European countries aiming to facilitate the open sharing of scientific and scholarly research publications and outcomes related to agriculture, food and environment.

VOA3R in Action



On Facebook

At Dublin Core 2011


At the e-Learning Africa International Conference

Presented to 75 French information specialists

Upcoming Events

MTSR 2011October 12-14, 2011 (Turkey) co-located with the next VOA3R project meeting

MTSR special track on Metadata & Semantics for Open Access Repositories & Infrastructures

MTSR special track on Metadata & Semantics for Agriculture, Food & Environment

MTSR special track on Linked data


The research within VOA3R leading to these results has received funding from the ICT Policy Support Programme (ICT PSP), Theme 4 - Open access to scientific information, grant agreement no 250525.


Linked Open Data for Bibliographic Data in Agriculture and Aquaculture

In order to provide an aggregated view on the research content coming from various collections, VOA3R is trying to ingest in a harmonised manner the metadata that various content providers use. A main obstacle in this effort is the fact that the various providers use different metadata specifications/standards (such as Dublin Core and MODS) or even different implementations of the same specifications/standards. To facilitate the process of exposing existing metadata depending on each provider’s development stages, internal data structures, and reality of practices, a set of recommendations on how bibliographic data could be encoded and exposed were produced with the guidance of FAO: the LODE-BD Recommendations v.1.1

Using CERIF to describe Research Entities in a Virtual Network

One of the issues tackled within VOA3R is the way to represent research entities and stakeholders (such as People, Projects, Institutions and Funding Agencies) using some interoperable and commonly accepted specification or standard. In the context of VOA3R, the partners experimented with an implementation of the Common European Research Information Format (CERIF) data model. CERIF was developed in the late 1980s by the European Union and since 2002 care and custody has been handed to the euroCRIS association.

Joint Meeting of VOA3R with euroCRIS

A joint meeting of VOA3R with euroCRIS took place in Bologna, Italy, on the 25th of May 2011. The aims of the meeting were twofold. On the one hand, VOA3R partners presented the implementation of EuroCRIS’ CERIF standard in VOA3R for the storage of information about researchers, projects and organizations. And on the other hand, the VOA3R technical team presented their initial design ideas for the exposure of CERIF as Linked Open Data, and how this could be combined with FAO’s recommendations on Linked Open Data for bibliographic information (LODE-BD). As a result of the meeting, both groups agreed on initiating a CERIF talk group for Linked Open Data. To further advance in this, the participants agreed to organize a joint meeting in Alcalá de Henares, Spain on July 27th / 28th 2011, hosted by the University of Alcalá.

Towards a Social Research Platform for Agriculture and Aquaculture

The VOA3R platform aims to provide an online social networking platform. The objective is to use metadata and semantics technology to deploy a community-focused integrated service for research content and data. It will allow users to express their research activities using explicit models of the scholarly methods and procedures used. The community approach will enable the enhancement of information seeking with extended evaluation elements (as for example, ratings, public reviews, social tagging and links to supporting or conflicting reports) that complement and go beyond the traditional, anonymous peer review process which results are not made available openly. An initial prototype of the VOA3R platform has been set up by the VOA3R team for preliminary testing and experimentation:

Experimenting with Alternative/Open Review Models

A Joint EFITA/VOA3R Workshop on Open Access Agriculture & Aquaculture Repositories took place on July 13th in conjunction with the Joint Congress of the European Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture (EFITA 2011) and the World Congress on Computers in Agriculture (WCCA 2011) that took place in in Prague, Czech Republic. The workshop served as a testbed for adopting an alternative review model: instead of blind peer-reviewing, papers submitted to the workshop were reviewed openly via comments through this blog: Four papers were submitted, discussed, revised and finally presented at the workshop. Their proceedings will be soon made available as a special volume.


5 Questions in 5 Minutes with Miguel-Ángel Sicilia

A short interview with the project coordinator of VOA3R, Prof. Miguel-Angel Sicilia on the benefit and use of as well VOA3R and the AIMS website, and the connection between both agricultural information management resources.

Tell us something about yourself... what is your background and role in the organization you are working for?
I am currently full professor at the University of Alcalá (Spain). I devote most of my time to managing research projects and outlining the main directions for future research in my group, together with managing a PhD program. I first got a degree on Computer Science, and afterwards a Ph.D. also in computing. But later I got an Ms.C. degree on library & information science, and had also studies on bioinformatics. Then, I can say I have a kind of pluri-disciplinary background which is really helpful in the context of projects dealing with digital collections, as in that context it is very likely that you find people from different backgrounds. In general, my current research activity is in the intersection of IT and another domain or discipline, examples of these in which I have worked are pedagogy, agriculture, emergency management or healthcare. Currently I work in the field of agriculture and aquaculture as project leader of VOA3R.

How did you get in contact with AIMS?
It was long time ago. Actually, I learned about it when I began to have contact with FAO people to interchange ideas on Semantic Web technologies and applications.

What is your opinion on AIMS?
For me it is an essential resource, as it keeps me updated on everything that is relevant to advances, standards and news on information regarding agriculture. And this is precisely the focus of the VOA3R project and of the forthcoming agINFRA project that we will coordinate and is starting late 2011.

According to you, what is the most important benefit that AIMS provides to the VOA3R community?
AIMS is an up-to-date resource for best practice in sharing and consuming agricultural information. I think the main benefit for our community is that AIMS is an ideal service for staying informed on news and achievements related to scientific information in agriculture.

How do you think VOA3R can contribute to agricultural research for development?
VOA3R is several things in a single system. It is a research information system (about agriculture and aquaculture), it is a social network for researchers, and it is a place for promoting open access to scientific outcomes. VOA3R is the first domain-specific, interaction rich social network for researchers, and represents a significant large scale pilot establishing the grounds for expanding the space of institutional repositories to the social network space. All of this having common semantics through the mature AGROVOC terminology from FAO. Researchers, students and practitioners can elaborate, comment, rate and collaborate around the mass of open access resources, thus constructing value from them. This adds a social dimension to repositories and fosters opportunities for interaction among researchers, practitioners and students, eventually leading to wider dissemination and outreach.

The scope of the AIMS Newsletter is to bring under the attention of the AIMS community recent news, events and achievements in the field of agricultural information management. If you have any contribution, suggestion, or need assistance with the newsletter, please contact us at [email protected]

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