Date Published: February 22, 2019
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): Lisa M. Kruesi, Frada V. Burstein, Kerry J. Tanner, Gemma Elizabeth Derrick.
Open biomedical repositories, such as PubMed Central (PMC), are a means to make research discoverable and permanently accessible. Assessing the potential interest of key stakeholders in an Australasia PubMed Central was the objective of this research. The investigation is novel, assisting in the development of open science infrastructure through its systematic analysis of the potential interest in, and viability of a biomedical repository for managing openly accessible research outputs for the Australasia region. The research adopted a qualitative approach based on semi-structured interviews and a focus group. Forty-four stakeholders located throughout Australia and New Zealand participated in the research. Participants expanded upon their experience of PubMed, MEDLINE, PMC and their use of information resources for research and clinical practice. The Evidence Based Healthcare (EBHC) pyramid was the theoretical model adopted to explain open biomedical repository processes. A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis identified support for exploring membership of an international PMC system, in particular Europe PMC. Lessons learnt from PMC US, Europe PMC and PMC Canada (collectively known as PubMed Central International) informed the investigation. A major strength identified was that PubMed Central International has been able to achieve high levels of compliance way beyond that of most institutional repositories. A great threat faced is overcoming the difficulties of working together with other major world bodies and financially sustaining an Australasia PMC. Improving Australasian biomedical knowledge management processes may be possible from adopting a PMC for retrieving and transferring research, linked to the data underlying the research. This in turn could help put regional research under a brighter spotlight, potentially leading to improvements in research quality. There is an opportunity for a potential Australasia PMC to harvest biomedical research from the National Library of Australia’s aggregator database, Trove and work closely with Europe PMC to avoid duplication of effort. Overall, establishment of an Australasia permanent biomedical digital open repository is perceived as important, with significant potential flow-on benefits to healthcare, industry and society.
Open biomedical research on an international scale is gaining traction. Working with the parent site, PubMed and PubMed Central (PMC), established by the US National Library of Medicine, mirror PMC repositories in Europe and Canada were formed as disciplinary repositories, to make world biomedical research and related data permanently accessible and discoverable. In 2018, PMC Canada was taken offline, whereas the Europe PMC site continues to develop features and functionality [2,3].
Most interviewees agreed with exploring the opportunity to become a partner with Europe PMC as a means to capitalise on the strengths of PMCI. This is an attractive option given efficiencies gained from Europe PMC are reported to be worth around £1 billion per annum worldwide, or 20 times the direct operational cost .
The key opportunities for a potential Australasia PMC identified by this research are greater discoverability and accessibility of biomedical regional research output, greater sharing of repository expertise, consolidation, improved copyright compliance, data-set integration and an increased provision of mineable and reusable content. The opportunity for an Australasia PMC to overcome threats, such as the present adequacy of existing repository and information resource access and to address the problem of limited available funding to ensure longevity of PMC Australasia remains to be tested.