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Open Access repositories are powered by Digital Asset Management Systems (DAMS), which are intertwined structures incorporating both software and hardware that take care of management tasks and decisions surrounding the ingestion, annotation, cataloguing, storage, retrieval and distribution of digital assets. Types of digital assets include, but are not exclusive to, photography, logos, illustrations, animations, audio-visual media, presentations, spreadsheets, Word and/or PDF documents, and a multitude of other digital formats and their respective metadata.

There is a plethora of DAMSs available and some of the most common used in the Open Access domain are listed in the table below. Others, more business- and/or social-oriented, are listed here.

DAMS Home page License
CONTENTdm Commercial
Digital Commons Commercial (hosted service)
DigiTool Commercial
DiVA-Portal Free (hosted service)
dLibra Commercial
Drupal Free
DSpace Free
Earmas Free
EPrints Free
EQUELLA Repository Commercial
ETD-db Free
Fedora Free
Fez Free
Greenstone Free
HAL Free (hosted service)
Invenio Free
Islandora/Fedora Free
intraLibrary Free
MyCoRe Free
Open Repository Commercial (hosted service)
PURE Free (hosted service)
SciELO Free (hosted service)
VITAL Commercial
XooNIps Free

The requirements for a DAMS to be used in and promoted by the Sci-GaIA project consortium were the following:

  • Open source
  • Distributed under a free license
  • Deployable on a local infrastructure (i.e., not a hosted service)
  • Standard compliant
  • Well supported
  • Scalable, up to O(106) – O(107) resources (to begin with).

There are many comparisons of DAMSs available on the web [see for example these: one and two) but an important element for the choice was to have the most direct possible know-how of the DAMS to be adopted, in order to have something solid but, at the same time, deployable in a very short amount of time.

In this respect, a key element was the fact that a group of technologists at INFN Catania, led by the representative of University of Catania in Sci-GaIA, is developing a pilot for an INFN Open Access Repository since almost two years.

For this reason, we have chosen Invenio and the main motivations for the choice were the following:

  • It is fully compliant with all most important library standards, such as, for example: DCMI, Marc21 and OAI-PMH;
  • It is co-developed by an international collaboration comprising institutes such as CERN, DESY, EPFL, FNAL, SLAC and used as institutional DAMS by about 30 scientific institutions worldwide;
  • INSPIRE, SCOAP3 and ZENODO (the OpenAIRE flagship archive) repositories are based on Invenio;
  • The CERN Document Server operates since 2002 and manages more than 1.3 million records in high-energy physics, covering articles, books, journals, photos, videos, and more;
  • UNESCO and UEMOA are leading an initiative to create a virtual library based on Invenio in 8 African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo).

In the context of Sci-GaIA, the team working in the project at the Department of Pysics and Astronomy of the University of Catania has extended Invenio functionalities adding:

  • The possibility to mint DataCite Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) and assign them to the records stored in the OAR;
  • If existing, direct links to the altmetrics of each of the records contained in the OAR (see, for example,;
  • The correct metadata structure and the right OAI-PMH endpoint configuration to make the OAR compliant with version 3.0 of the OpenAIRE Guidelines.

The Sci-GaIA Open Access Repository (OAR) allows single researchers to upload their products but also connects to external archives to harvest their products (released under open licences, of course). Furthermore, the OAR allows each resource to be citable and discoverable, through unique identifiers, and reproducible/re-usable, thanks to the connection to the Africa Grid Science Gateway and to Grid, Cloud and local High Performance Computing (HPC) infrastructures.

The OAR is available in two languages, English and French, and it is already conforming with OAI specifications and OpenAIRE guidelines and it is an official data provider of OpenDOAR. It is also a Service Provider of the GrIDP “catch-all” federation as well as of other Identity Federations in Africa and of eduGAIN inter-federation.


From an Open Science point of view:

  • The Knowledge Base of e-Infrastructures has already been integrated in the project website at  
  • The Sci-GaIA OAR is already “registered” in the Knowledge Base as well as in the Semantic Search Engine that allows visitors to search for science products stored in the more than 4,000 repositories included so far in the Knowledge Base
  • The Sci-GaIA OAR is also “connected” to the Africa Grid Science Gateway and some applications to demonstrate science reproducibility and reusability are already in integrated in that Science Gateway.
  • The Sci-GaIA OAR has a DOI prefix provided by the Handle.Net Registry and managed by WACREN and all records uploaded on it are findable, discoverable and citable.


The Sci-GaIA Open Access Repository has the double function of being the project’s document repository (in order to comply with the Open Data Pilot launched by the EC) and the template to be cloned in many places in Africa to make science “made in Africa” more visible, reproducible and reusable.

Concerning the second scope, the virtual appliance containing a clone of Sci-GaIA-OAR is available, as one of its own resources. The same holds for the step-by-step instructions for installation and configuration.