It takes a global village or a recap of NISO Plus 2021

By Gabriela Mejias and Carolina Tanigushi


The second NISO Plus Conference was held virtually on February 22-25. This year’s theme was “Global conversations – global connections”. The event brought together 850 participants from 26 countries, with a high level of engagement during the 52 sessions. As in the previous edition, NISO Plus is a “sage not on stage” event, which translated into many interesting discussions across the live Q&As, Twitter and the NISO forum.

Another element that made the NISO Plus 2021 program unique was the effort to enable networking moments to get more conversations started. The Jeopardy NISO edition was an interesting way of learning and thinking about standards, and the session counted with more than 80 participants. “We were thrilled to have so many attendees engaging and learning about NISO standards, events and community activities,” commented Raymond Pun (Hoover Institution), session host.

As part of their commitment to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the information community, for the second year, and with the support of Digital Science, 15 professionals were awarded with the NISO Plus 2021 Scholarships.

In the next sections we will recap on the most important takeaways from our perspective. (Disclaimer: the authors were both NISO Plus 2020 Scholarship awardees and part of the NISO Plus 2021 Planning committee).

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) & accessibility

Diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), and accessibility were central themes of NISO Plus 2021. Many different sessions were focused on the ongoing efforts and discussions to improve DEI & accessibility across the information community.

During the session A Focus on Accessibility Mike Capara (The Viscardi Center) raised the need for a clearer understanding on digital accessibility. An important point was made by Solange Santos (SciELO): improving accessibility in digital libraries improves the user experience for all, not only for people with disabilities. Accessibility starts at the top of the organization and necessarily requires a cultural change.

Speakers encouraged the community to start improving accessibility as soon as possible for the community benefit and also in light of many national and international regulations in place.1 The EU Accessibility Act takes effect as of 2025, after which it will be illegal to have/host not-accessible digital content.2

Data aggregators are in a unique position to influence accessibility awareness and implementation among content creators. SciELO is working in this direction.

In the session Standards that Support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Trevor Dawes shared what the library of the University of Delaware is doing in order to be truly inclusive, such as making sure there’s relevant material for all students/researchers and that this material is diverse (not eurocentric, carries authors from all possible backgrounds), making sure its services are accessible and adaptable to all users and so on

They also have been holding internal audits in order to review hiring processes (from the questions asked in job interviews to where the job position is posted), to make sure that both users and staff feel welcome and comfortable, and to analyze if there’s equity in the organization (noting that diversity is not the same as equity).

The importance of speaking up about disabilities (and self-identification) was highlighted during the panel, being beneficial for both employers and employees, as it can help employers provide better working conditions and helps destigmatize people with disabilities.

Indigenous knowledge (IK), defined as “the understandings, skills and philosophies developed by societies with long histories of interaction with their natural surroundings3 was also a recurring theme, with Katharina Ruckstuhl (University of Otago) mentioning the importance of Indigenous Data and Sovereignty (IDS) in order to preserve IK, so that indigenous peoples own their data and can control their information, avoiding exploitation, appropriation and erasure of their community knowledge. The CARE principles, developed by GIDA (Global Indigenous Data Alliance), complement the FAIR principles, in an effort to recognize Indigenous data sovereignty and governance.

In the keynote Connecting the World Through Local Indigenous Knowledge, Dr Margaret Sraku-Lartey, spoke about indigenous knowledge (IK) originated from African countries; how IK is often overlooked by current scientific knowledge/research and needs to be recorded (also) so that it’s discoverable for researchers and that guidelines for this are necessary.

Dr Sraku-Lartey also raised attention on how intellectual property rights of indigenous peoples are often abused/ignored, as this knowledge is usually extracted from those communities, capitalized by others, without ever recognizing them. The need for metadata for IK has been raised during both sessions and we look forward to NISO’s next steps in facilitating discussions around this.

It all relates to the African proverb saying that “when an old man dies, a library burns to the ground”. People are living libraries and libraries provide infrastructure for society to access knowledge. As Ginny Hendricks of Crossref brought to the table in her session, in the end, infrastructure is about the people.


The session Quality and Reliability of Preprints, offered broad institutional views on preprints, from two servers – AfricArXiv and SciELO Preprints –, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Preprint Pilot.

Joy Owango, Executive Director of AfricArXiv, presented an overview of the server, made for African researchers or individuals doing research in or about Africa. AfricArXiv is run by its African Principles for Open Access in Scholarly Communication; they also have a program that encourages researchers to publish in local/regional languages then helps them translate that research into English.

She discussed some of the reasons why there’s underrepresentation of scholarly content coming from Africa: the language barrier, regional bias in western journals, a large quantity of research published in print only, and bottlenecks in infrastructure like network challenges and internet connectivity.

As for the SciELO Preprints server, it’s run by the SciELO Program and based on OPS (Open Preprint Systems), developed by PKP (Public Knowledge Project). The SciELO Program has been encouraging its journals to adopt Open Science practices for a few years now and SciELO Preprints is part of this collective effort. The server started operating in April 2020 and, even though it is open to all areas of knowledge, it mostly received submissions of COVID-19-related papers. 70% of submitted papers are from Brazilian authors, 20% from Latin American authors and the remaining 10% are from other countries.

Abel Packer (SciELO) notes that preprints are adopted when there’s a sense of urgency in communicating research and it’s important to understand that they add complexity to the management of the quality of the research but “enrich our research community infrastructure.”

Finally, Abel states that “preprints’ power resides in [their] web disintermediation property. So when you feel the need to publish, you have the new opportunity because you [make the] web and its disintermediation property [allows for that].” SciELO has been saying that the future is open for the last few years and it certainly feels true now!

The reliability of preprints was also discussed. In the Misinformation and the Truth: From Fake News to Retractions to Preprints session, Michelle Avissar-Whiting of Research Square showed how the media/society received three preprints posted on their platform, one being “misunderstood” (created clickbait-y claims), another being “over-interpreted” (read very literally and not comprehensively), and the last being a “convenient truth” (used to push conspiracy theories/political agenda). Michelle ended her talk by arguing that it’s better to have been published in preprint and quickly discredited than to be published and cause harm with your research results, using the Lancet article linking autism to MMR vaccines as an example, as it took twelve years to be retracted.

Research data

The sessions dedicated to FAIR, linked and research data discussed and proposed ways data sharing and its standardization can be improved for the benefit of the community.

There was a strong focus on research data policy and how organizations across the research landscape (publishers, funders, research institutions) are working to standardize these policies. It was noted by Todd Carpenter (NISO Executive Director) that data sharing/citation is still in its very early days, so standards and frameworks created now will still be changing and evolving for a while.

Raising awareness of FAIR principles among researchers and contributors is very important, especially concerning data availability statements, FAIR repositories, and benefits. Persistent identifiers are a central principle (F1) of FAIR data and hence it’s crucial to increase awareness of PIDs in data management.

To encourage best practices for data and information sharing it’s important to give credit to those curating and depositing data, said Christian Herzog (Dimensions CEO). PIDs are important and good metadata even more important, said Shelley Stall (AGU). She also raised the importance of ORCID iDs and DataCite DOIs to increase recognition for software4 and datasets and their creators.

SciELO launched its data repository (powered by Dataverse) last August, which can be used by authors who submit manuscripts to SciELO Network journals and the SciELO Preprints server. The repository follows FAIR principles.

Identifiers and standards in open research infrastructure

The session Identifiers, Metadata and Connections discussed how mixing persistent identifiers into metadata makes connections between research work.

In real life researchers, contributors, their outputs and organizations are interconnected in multiple and complex ways. Persistent identifiers for individuals (ORCID iDs), outputs (Crossref and DataCite DOIs), and organizations (ROR IDs) allow us to better understand and follow those connections. Making those connections and their information accessible to all in the form of open metadata helps effectively mapping the research ecosystem and increase trust and transparency in research and its infrastructure.

The benefits of persistent identifiers can be increased if these are combined and connected via their metadata, illuminate the research process and activities (who contributed to a paper, who reviewed it, have there any concerns been raised, who funded it, links to underlying data and code), and recognize researchers, their contributions as well as the organizations supporting them.

Source: The PID Graph.

Figure 1. The PID Graph, a network of PID Systems, establishes connections between different entities within the research landscape, and can help to pose and answer new questions.

The panel Open Versus Proprietary in Softwares and Systems was a round table discussion moderated by Leslie Johnston (National Archives), in which panelists discussed the advantages and disadvantages of open and proprietary softwares and systems. The main takeaway from the session was that proprietary software is better for a quick, more robust solution with good, specialized support, but that open software is more sustainable in the long term, as it is community-led and allows for more transparency, customization, even if it’s more work to keep running/updated.

In regards to software and system development, standards can be really helpful in the sense that it’s more sustainable (and easier) to work with pre-established standards than it is to code everything from “the ground up”, allowing, too, for better interoperability options. This overlaps with the Standards in Open Research Infrastructure session, also a round table discussion, led by Natasha Simons from the Australian Research Data Commons.

In this sense, Daniel Bangert (Digital Repository of Ireland) mentions that standards help with interoperability, and with ensuring reliability and quality (help make sure everyone “speaks the same language”). Arianna Becerril-Garcia (Redalyc) notes that open research infrastructure helps make content more openly accessible, disseminated, connected, and discoverable.

Open infrastructure governance

In the session Business Models of Infrastructure Support Ginny Hendricks raised that Indonesian organizations account for almost 14% of Crossref’s membership, illustrating the diversity of their membership and the fact that organizations from regions beyond the “Global North” make an important contribution to their sustainability. Both Ginny Hendricks and Rebecca Kross (the Canadian Research Knowledge Network, CRKN) highlighted the importance of people in open infrastructure’s sustainability: from users, staff, Board members, to institutional members and advocates all play an important role in adopting and developing infrastructures.

Accountability was an important topic in the session, and in that regard it was highlighted that organizations like Crossref and ROR (Research Organization Registry) have recently committed to the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure. The relation between nonprofit and commercial organizations was problematized during the discussion. In this regard, CRKN work with for profit organizations is driven by member defined principles with the goal to promote sustainable scholarly communications and equity of access for all, not just in Canada, according to Rebecca Kross.


Another topic for the Misinformation and the Truth: From Fake News to Retractions to Preprints session was retracted research; Caitlin Bakker from the University of Minnesota noted that there’s a problem with the potential use of retracted research without the knowledge of its retracted status (for example, a doctor might use a retracted paper to diagnose a patient), other than that, there isn’t consistency across platforms and often retraction notices aren’t public/easy to find/linked to in the original paper.

Jodi Scheider from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign made a few recommendations in this regard: make retraction information easy to find and use, recommend metadata and taxonomy, create best practices for the retraction process, educate and socialize researchers, and to develop standards, software and databases for sustainable data quality. NISO is to organize working groups to work on retraction guidelines.

NISO update

The NISO Update session brought us an overview of three projects currently underway, MECA (Manuscript Exchange Common Approach), the Content Platform Migrations Working Group, and KBART (Knowledge Bases and Related Tools).

MECA is a standard that “sought to agree on a methodology to package up files and metadata in order to transfer that package from one submission system to any of the others.”5 It became a NISO Recommended Practice in 2020 and reconvened in 2021 as an established standing committee. The MECA committee is currently working on expanding its recommendations by looking at more case studies and incorporating peer review.

The Content Platform Migrations Working Group is working to develop recommended practices in order to help normalize content platform migration processes and provide recommendations to improve communications before, during, and after migrations. It’s draft is currently open for public comments (from March 10th to April 23, 2021) and any contributions made will be considered by the working group.

KBART “is a NISO Recommended Practice that facilitates the transfer of holdings metadata from content providers to knowledge base suppliers and libraries.6 It is now into Phase III, that has, among its goals, the ability to allow more granular information, improve its usefulness for non-English/European language content, and improve and clarify its endorsement process.


Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), accessibility, and the challenges of COVID-19 were transversal topics throughout the conference.

The NISO Plus 21 Planning Committee was a global, diverse and community effort that helped shape the conference experience. The group was conformed by 26 individuals representing different geographies, career stages, sectors (libraries, publishers, vendors, infrastructure providers and more), and organizational size and structures. It is important to mention that the conference hosted sessions across all time zones, offering live discussion opportunities to all attendees. “Conference delight” was the guiding principle for the event organization, and each one of the multiple platforms to participate in NISO Plus was carefully and deliberately selected to make it a unique and joyful experience for all.

NISO Plus continues to be an open space for discussion and this year’s edition redoubled the efforts to enable wider participation. Last year it was discussed that “open is not enough”, the necessity to “decolonize scholarly communications and think of those voices “missing in the room”. In the previous conference Carolina Tanigushi was the only person representing an organization outside the “Global North”. In NISO Plus 2021 the participation of delegates from South America, Africa and Asia increased, and so did the protagonism of different voices and perspectives across the community. We – the authors – believe that inclusivity should be more than a slogan but a praxis. If we want to solve global problems we can’t afford to work in silos or ignore the diverse practices and needs of our community.

Topics relating to open science were already a big part of the conversation, but the pandemic brought them into the spotlight, pushing for quick changes in the research ecosystem, especially in regard to practices that allow for faster posting/publication and more transparency in the publication process. Suddenly preprints were being talked about on the news (for better or worse) and the discussion of reliability and trust in science was happening on a much broader scale, especially considering some high-profile papers on COVID-19 that were retracted, whether they were still preprints or published in well-known journals.

Sylvain Massip of Opscidia highlighted three major challenges of science communication: discoverability, access, and trust. While we can’t control how society will receive/interpret scientific information, standards (and other open science practices) can be used to enable this interaction, by making it easier for research outputs to be found, accessed, and used, to ultimately increase trust in science for all.

After its second edition, we can confirm that NISO Plus has been established as a sustainable and plural discussion space for all those interested in the information ecosystem. As part of the 2020 NISO Plus Scholarship cohort, we experience, recognize and celebrate NISO’s leadership in fostering inclusion and participation.

NISO really goes the extra mile in practicing what they preach and giving opportunities, support and encouragement to all those interested in improving trust in information. After all, that’s why we use and need standards, to build trust in information and practice and promote good and responsible citizenship. In that sense, it’s really important for our community to gather and find solutions that work for all. It takes a village, and a global one!


1. If we consider that every higher education institution in the USA that was ever sued because of accessibility lost and that every year there are around 2000 lawsuits related to website and document accessibility, this raises the importance and impact of enabling/providing accessible digital content.

2. Some interesting tools were shared, such as VPATs (Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates) – to help assess site’s accessibility status and Ace, the Accessibility Checker for EPUB developed by the Daisy consortium.

3. Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems:

4. Software citation in particular is still challenging, especially considering that software is commonly on sites such as Github and, more often than not, don’t integrate DOIs and PIDs. Zenodo integrates with Github, allowing code submission which allows to submit code to the repository and obtain a DOI, which ensures digital preservation and software citation.

5. Manuscript Exchange Common Approach (MECA):

6. Knowledge Bases And Related Tools (KBART):


CABRAL, L.S.A., et al.. SciELO network and accessibility: emphasis on policies, products and services [online]. SciELO in Perspective, 2020 [viewed 07 April 2021]. Available from:

Directive (EU) 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on the accessibility requirements for products and services (Text with EEA relevance) [online]. EUR-Lex. 2019 [viewed 07 April 2021]. Available from:

EGGERTSON, L. Lancet retracts 12-year-old article linking autism to MMR vaccines. CMAJ [online]. 2010, vol. 182, no. 4, pp. E199–E200 [viewed 07 April 2021]. . Available from:

GRIFFEY, J. Creating the Experience of NISO Plus 2021 [online]. 2021 [viewed 07 April 2021]. Available from:

MEADOWS, A. NISO Plus 2021 by the Numbers! [online]. NISO Plus blog, 2021 [viewed 07 April 2021]. Available from:

MEADOWS, A. NISO Plus Scholarship Winners Announced [online]. 2021 [viewed 07 April 2021]. Available from:

Meet the NISO Plus 2021 Scholarship Winners! [online]. 2021 [viewed 07 April 2021]. Available from:

MEJIAS, G. and TANIGUSHI, C. “Sage not on stage” or a recap on the first NISO Plus conference [online]. SciELO in Perspective, 2020 [viewed 07 April 2021]. Available from:

PACKER, A.L., et al. SciELO after 20 Years: the future remains open [online]. SciELO in Perspective, 2018 [viewed 07 April 2021]. Available from:

SCIENTIFIC ELECTRONIC LIBRARY ONLINE. SciELO Preprints begins operations [online]. SciELO in Perspective, 2020 [viewed 07 April 2021]. Available from:

External links

#NISOPlus21 – Twitter Search:

A focus on accessibility:

Ace, by DAISY:

African Principles for Open Access in Scholarly Communication:


CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance:

Connecting the World Through Local Indigenous Knowledge:

Content Platform Migrations Working Group:

FAIR data principles and why they matter:

Identifiers, metadata and connections:

KBART Phase III Proposal:

Knowledge Bases And Related Tools (KBART):

Linked data and the future of information sharing:

Manuscript Exchange Common Approach (MECA):

Misinformation and the truth: from fake news to retractions to preprints:

NIH Preprint Pilot:

NISO Community Forum:

NISO Plus Planning Committee:

NISO RP-38-202x, Content Platform Migrations Draft for Public Comment:

NISO Update:

Open versus proprietary in softwares and systems:


Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure:

Quality and reliability of preprints:

Reducing the Inadvertent Spread of Retracted Science:

Research data: describing, sharing, protecting, saving:

SciELO Data:

SciELO Preprints:

Standards in open research infrastructure:

Standards that support diversity, equity, and inclusion:

The business models of infrastructure support:

The DAISY Consortium:

The FAIR Data Principles:

The PID Graph:

What is Local and Indigenous Knowledge?


About Gabriela Mejias

Gabriela Mejias is the ORCID Engagement Manager for Global Consortia. She works with communities of practice implementing regional and national strategies of ORCID adoption and engages with the wider community to raise awareness of persistent identifiers (PIDs). She is interested in learning more about and contributing to open research infrastructures. She serves in the Board of Networked Digital Library of Thesis and Dissertations (NDLTD) and is a member of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP).


Como citar este post [ISO 690/2010]:

MEJIAS, G. and TANIGUSHI, C. It takes a global village or a recap of NISO Plus 2021 [online]. SciELO in Perspective, 2021 [viewed ]. Available from:


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