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France

France has approximately 82 universities. All French universities, major higher education schools and major research institutes have signed a common protocol to make the HAL archive system their common platform to host the national research output. In France there is a co-existence between institutional, national and disciplinary archives.

The DRIVER Inventory Study found that there are approximately 40 OAI repositories in France. However, not all of them are institutional repositories with full text, in some cases they contain metadata only or raw data. Thus, it is estimated that more than 30 universities have a OAI repository.

The HAL archive is a national aggregator which offers a common platform to multiple archives, whether institutional (HAL-INSERM) or topic-related (HAL-SHS for humanities and social sciences) or format-related (TEL for PHD thesis). HAL (Hyperarticles online) is a common repository service for French institutions. The idea of HAL was conceived in 2000 at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and was based on the model of arXiv.org. HAL is a modular, open access, digital repository of scholarly documents that allows researchers in all academic fields to archive their publications and make them available to the global research community. It is maintained by the Centre for Direct Scholarly Communication (CCSD - Centre pour la Communication Scientifique Directe) of CNRS. It currently holds more than 35,000 full-text scientific articles. HAL gathers materials from any French (and other) research institution. All French Universities, major higher education schools (conference des grandes écoles) and major research institutes have signed a common protocol to make HAL their common platform to host nationally the French research available in open access.

In other words, this national agreement means that all research institutions have agreed to either deposited in HAL or to develop their own repository and deposit the content of that repository in HAL.

The report goes on to state that in France, institutional, national and disciplinary archives co-exist. A general policy has been widely accepted to coordinate such archives at the national level through a common platform. However, if the national scale has the potential to provide efficient advisory services, metadata creation and enhancement support etc, it would be important to relay this effort at European and/or international level, notably through facilitating the creation of disciplinary archives.

In December 2006, the Couperin consortium - the sole French academic libraries consortium - set up a working group on open archives (GTAO) in which the French universities and "Grandes Ecoles" are represented. The goals of the group are on the one hand to help institutions build institutional repositories by way of advice and guidance on technical concerns, communication toward the research community, legal issues etc., and on the other hand to draw up an inventory of existing open archives and current projects in French universities. This investigation is currently taking place and final results will be available shortly. It should help in describing more precisely the French OA scene.

In July 2006 - at the same time of the start of DRIVER - major research institutes in France, the association of French Universities - CPU - and, the association of Great Schools - Conférence des grandes écoles - have signed a common protocol to make HAL archive system, their common platform to host the national research outputs. In France there is a co-existence between institutional, national and disciplinary archives so the Archives-Ouvertes.fr network has been created to take into account theses differences. Representatives of the different institutions are gathered in different instances, a strategic committee and an executive and technical committee that discuss the evolution of open archiving and the HAL platform.

HAL (Hyperarticles online) is a common repository service for the French institutions. The idea of HAL was conceived in 2000 at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) - one of the signatories of the common protocol - and was based on the model of arXiv.org. HAL is a modular, open access, digital repository of scholarly documents that allows researchers in all academic fields to archive their publications and make them available to the global research community. It is maintained by the Centre for Direct Scholarly Communication (CCSD - Centre pour la Communication Scientifique Directe) of CNRS. It currently holds about 50,000 full-text scientific articles.

On a national level, HAL has been instrumental in endorsing open archiving by creating web services that allow the import of articles from local databases. For example, French universities are installing the Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) which create connections to HAL.

On an international level, apart from the archives that HAL is connected to, it has also been an active participant through CNRS in DRIVER-I. Specifically HAL is looking into the technical services that DRIVER is offering and is considering implications of connectivity between repositories in different research communities and different countries, based on the experience of creating the HAL platform and its layers of interoperability. This experience is drawn from the fact that HAL is connected to archives of different scholarly communities worldwide, such as arXiv.org ; PubMed Central ; and NASA ADS archives. To date, there are 22 archives hosted by HAL where research material in those archives is accessible through the general Hal portal and vice versa.

In addition to the technical aspects, participation of one of the members of the Archives Ouvertes network to the DRIVER project offers the opportunity to be part of a greater network of content providers. The examples of some national federations (DARE, DINI…) more advanced than the French network can be seen as encouragement for the future of Archives Ouvertes.

The DRIVER wiki may be a useful source of further information.

Are there developments in this country that you would like to inform the DRIVER community about? If so, please visit the DRIVER wiki. There you will find guest editors' contributions to the countries pages. Information about the easy process of editing pages and how to obtain a password can be found on the wiki under "PmWiki Software". We look forward to your visit.

Last updated: 14-Nov-2008