The idea of assisting information professionals in deciding what metadata terms to use when encoding existing bibliographic data for the purpose of exchanging and sharing across data providers was born under the umbrella of VOA3R, an European research consortium project. VOA3R stands for Virtual Open Access Agriculture & Aquaculture Repository: Sharing Scientific and Scholarly Research related to Agriculture, Food, and Environment>. The general objective of the VOA3R project is to improve the spread of European agriculture and aquaculture research results by using an innovative approach to sharing open access research products. Under a strict open access policy, the VOA3R Federation connects libraries, archives and other publication systems by providing advanced search interfaces that include specifics aspects of research work (methods, variables, measures, instruments, techniques, etc.) of each particular domain. The users of the VOA3R service are not only researchers, but also students and practitioners who want to either search for or publish scientific research results. The project is targeted to the domain of agriculture & aquaculture, as it re-uses previous models for these domains, but the technology and models integrated are largely transferable to other academic disciplines and subject domains.
The VOA3R Federation is composed of 17 institutions from 13 countries which contribute bibliographic data to eight open repositories. In order to exchange metadata, VOA3R originally planned to use two different application profiles. The first one would be a VOA3R Application Profile based on the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set (DC); The second one would be an application profile based on the Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS), which would be used by those repositories that have richer bibliographic data.
After a series of discussions within the VOA3R Federation, a new idea regarding the data harvesting approach emerged. In addition to the original plan, a set of recommendations was foreseen with a full range of options for metadata encoding which data providers could choose from according to their development stages, internal data structures, and the reality of their practices. Through these recommendations, the VOA3R data providers should get simple answers for questions like: “Will the physical holding of a resource be important enough to be shared among the VOA3R participants?” “What metadata term should be used for encoding the title(s), identifier(s), or subject(s)?>
It was also decided that the recommendations would allow any data provider to encode bibliographic data using properties from standardized namespaces, to use well-established authority data and controlled vocabularies that are available as linked data in agriculture and aquaculture, to publish data in RDF triples, and to submit the dataset to VOA3R. In doing so, VOA3R would act both as a service provider enhancing the dissemination channel and accessibility of open access documents and as a service that promotes the exchange and publication of bibliographic data in RDF, so as to facilitate the use of Linked Data in agriculture and aquaculture.
In this context, the LODE-BD Recommendations were prepared. In spite of the fact that the recommendations are geared toward the agriculture and aquaculture sectors through the VOA3R project, the recommendations are destined to become useful for any type of bibliographical data describing bibliographic resources in any subject domain.