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Hrachovec, Herbert, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Vienna, Austria,
Carusi, Annamaria, Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford, UK,
Huentelmann, Raphael, Ontos verlag, Heusenstamm nr. Frankfurt, Germany,
Pichler, Alois, Wittgenstein Archives at the University of Bergen, Norway,
Antonio, Lamarra, Istituto per il Lessico Intellettuale Europeo e la Storia delle Idee (ILIESI), Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Italy,
Cristina, Marras, Istituto per il Lessico Intellettuale Europeo e la Storia delle Idee (ILIESI), Italy,
Alessio, Piccioli, Net7 srl, Internet Open Solutions, Pisa, Italy,
Lou, Burnard, Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford, UK,

Agora extends an existing federation of semantically structured digital libraries named Philosource, a collection of high quality OA content from classical to contemporary European philosophy. Agora intends to transform this federation into a specialised and highly innovative OA archive and publishing venue for new scholarship, by carrying out five experiments: (1) Semantic linking; (2) Linked Open Data (LOD); (3) Advanced Scholarly Linking; (4) Open Peer review; and (5) OA business models in the field of European philosophy. The LOD portal created within experiment (2) will serve as unique access point to the philosophical content of the federation and will expose its metadata to the LOD cloud. Agora’s ultimate goal is to arrive at a model for establishing and accessing a growing open research archive for scholarly publications in the humanities.

The presentation will focus on the rationale for the Agora project’s vision of innovative enhancement of Open Access resources in European Philosophy, and on the TEI framework. The experiments and evaluation strategies will not be presented in detail, and are briefly summarised below. More information can be found on the project website:

TEI Framework

The general vision that underlies the Agora project, as well as the mark-up challenges that arose during Agora’s initial phase focused on content preparation for the experiments. It was decided to define a simple TEI-based interchange format which could be used both for existing and for newly published scientific journal articles, enabling different partners to combine these secondary resources seamlessly with other resources within the evolving AGORA framework. To define this format we surveyed about half a dozen different TEI-based publishing systems, as used by different journal publishers in Europe and North America, and identified a common subset of useful markup constructs. We documented this using the TEI’s ‘ODD’ system, which is also used to generate the schemas used to validate the content produced by all partners. For output to readable PDF and HTML formats we rely on a customization of the TEI Stylesheet library. In a parallel experiment, we have used the same library to define an input mapping from ‘docx’ format into TEI, enabling partners to draft new documents in the familiar Microsoft Word environment using a specially customized Word stylesheet.


Each of the Agora experiments is a trial of a mode of enhancing an aspect of philosophical scholarship through the possibilities offered by digital publications and repositories in philosophy.

The Semantic Linking Experiment has as the goal of enabling a novel way of building, querying, and browsing a knowledge network and to assess its suitability as a collaborative research tool as well as a learning device. A subset of the new content (secondary sources in the form of scholarly articles, monographs) will be interlinked via semantic annotations among each other and its underlying datasets (primary sources in the form of editions of texts, manuscripts) most of which are already available in the Philosource Federation. A subset of secondary sources will be connected with keywords that at the same time will make up domain concepts of the secondary sources ontology. The resulting ontology, in the form of RDF files, will be published on the web and the users will be offered the possibility to browse it, use the ontology to tag additional material, and add to the ontology generating their own notebooks. The semantically linked content will enhance browsing, querying, collaboration and learning.

The Linked Open Data (LOD) Experiment aims to offer users and machines a unique access point to the federation content and to augment the user search and browsing experience. The Philosource Federation is already a federation in the political sense by sharing common values and technological standards. The Federation Portal will mainly serve as a centralised aggregator of all the metadata (semantically structured and non-semantically structured) produced by the federation nodes. It will thereby interlink the federation nodes, and link the federation content with relevant external sources. It is hoped that the linking will make the content more interoperable, easier to discover and retrieve, and provide a richer context for the federation content. The metadata made available through the portal API will make the federation content usable to build other third party applications and aims to stimulate innovative and creative re-uses of our data. The portal will offer a unique SPARQL endpoint to access RDF metadata of all the federation content to third party data consumers; semiautomatically enrich the data to link certain type of resources (most notably books, people, places and events) via rdfs:sameAs properties, to other LOD providers such as DBPedia, Freebase, The Library of Congress, The Open Library, Geonames, Europeana; offering an augmented search facility by expanding queries with data extracted from third party LOD providers. Enhanced search will be offered in an appealing and easy to use interface, for example, by allowing visually browsing search results on a map and on a timeline.

The Open Collaborative Peer Review Experiment has as its goal to experiment in the field of open peer review in order to enhance and determine standards for peer review in the humanities and social sciences in the digital age. In this experiment authors submit their papers to two new online journals (Nordic Wittgenstein Review and Lexicon Philosophicum) via Open Journal System (OJS). Papers will undergo a general eligibility and quality check by the editors and editors-in-chief. Papers will undergo double blind review during which authors and reviewers will remain anonymous. Papers that are accepted for publication will go through one month of additional open review or commentary, during which registered users will be asked to comment on and to discuss the accepted papers. Editors and editors-in-chief will moderate discussions. Editors will proceed with suggesting revisions on the basis of the open review. Authors will be able to use the suggestions, comments and discussions from the open review / comment stage in finalizing their paper for publication. The online publication of the articles will include functionality for readers to evaluate, rate and recommend articles in a comment stage. The user will then be able to select from different criteria of evaluation, such as highest rated, most read, and most cited.

The goal of the PPP OA Business Models Experiment carried out by the philosophy publishing house Ontos is to experiment with different OA Business Models in order to gain insight into their effects on commercial business. A commercial publisher will republish a selection of monographs in digital format and make them available in Open Access, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivative license. It will study the effects on sales figures over time of re-publishing online in OA existing inprint closed access monographs. It will further study the effects of publishing the Nordic Wittgenstein Review under hybrid and delayed business models.

Evaluation Strategy

The overarching evaluation strategy that is used has been adapted from Value Sensitive Design (VSD), a design methodology geared towards the values that are involved in technology customization and design, which consists of ongoing evaluation on three levels: conceptual, empirical and technical. VSD has been informed by philosophy from the outset of its development, and is therefore closer to a philosophical ethos, and also makes room for a philosophical as well as user-based evaluation of the technologies as they develop. Even though this methodology has been primarily used for ethical values of technology design and implementation, we will be extending it to epistemic values as well. This is particularly appropriate for technologies for scholarship where the two forms of values are very closely connected, and will also contribute to the further development of VSD as a methodology.


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