CIRAD's work in openning access to its research outputs : An interview with Marie-Claude Deboin

Marie-Claude Deboin is the head of the Scientific and Technical Information (STI) Service (40 people) at the Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD). CIRAD is a French state-owned agricultural research centre which works with developing countries. It has a staff compliment of 1,800, which includes 800 researchers, nearly 300 of whom are located outside France and the French overseas departments and territories. Its mandate is to produce high quality scientific knowledge and to make it accessible, understandable, and usable worldwide, particularly by its Southern research partners.

The AIMS editorial team invited Marie-Claude Deboin to share  ideas and her institution's experiences on openning up access to research outputs and she shares this with the agricultural information management community.

Tell us briefly about the work being done by CIRAD in the area of Open Access and Open Data?
CIRAD has been involved in the open access movement since 2006 when it signed the Berlin Declaration and the first French Memorandum of Understanding for a coordinated approach on a national level to open archiving of scientific output. The aim was to encourage French scientists to deposit their publications in the French multidisciplinary repository Hyper Articles en Ligne (HAL).

We read the good news that CIRAD confirms its support of openness, would you like to shed more light on this development?
The new partnership agreement that CIRAD signed with 25 other French research institutes and universities in 2013 confirms CIRAD's support of open access to knowledge and its commitment to promoting CIRAD publications via the HAL national open archive. For CIRAD, this means defining the most efficient way to populate HAL, either automatically from the CIRAD database Agritrop or via the HAL-CIRAD interface. This study is part of the more global CIRAD project to convert Agritrop into an open document repository.

What strategies have you employed to ensure that CIRAD moves towards opening up research and sharing their research outputs through open access?
To support open access for its scientific knowledge, CIRAD has devised an information policy that matches French, European and international policies and recommendations. The STI Service has identified priorities and designed sets of actions that have been reviewed by the CIRAD STI steering committee, chaired by the Director of Research and Strategy. The actions that were approved have been implemented:

  • informing researchers and helping them publish in open access peer-reviewed journals. Two dedicated tools have been designed: a public database called “Où publier” to help choose an appropriate journal, and a public website “CoopIST” to provide information and training resources for scientific writing and publishing,
  • allocating an internal budget and identifying external funders who support open access,
  • using the CIRAD Agritrop database and the French open access archive HAL to make CIRAD scientific publications both accessible and assessable. Indicators are generated from Agritrop to monitor progress towards open access: from 2009 to 2012, 22.3% of CIRAD articles were published in open access and the new plan aims to increase this percentage, 
  • transforming Agritrop into a repository which is compliant with the French repository (HAL), the European repository (OpenAire) and the International Information System for the Agricultural Sciences and Technology (AGRIS repository).

In the agricultural domain there is a challenge in gathering unpublished research work and data from scientists and research institutions. Does CIRAD face the same challenge and what is your comment on this?
CIRAD faces the challenge of producing high quality scientific papers and making them accessible, understandable, and usable worldwide, particularly by its Southern research partners. This means that CIRAD must publish and make freely available a large variety of documents: journals and journal articles for scientists, books for students, technical reports for technicians, policy briefs for policymakers, websites and leaflets for the general public. 

Recently, there has been a move to open up also research data, and currently a G8- International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture is underway. Is your institution actively involved in Open Data for Agriculture? What is your comment on this?
CIRAD has just launched an inventory of the scientific data produced by its research teams and projects. It participated in the G8 Conference on Open Data for Agriculture in 2013. CIRAD plans to be more actively involved in Open Data by conducting operations in partnership. It will be a long-term project as CIRAD works on a large variety of topics related to agriculture: plant production and protection, forestry, animal production and health, aquatic sciences and fisheries, natural resources, food sciences, economics, development and rural sociology.