Providing a strategic and policy framework for openness to flourish


Encouraging information and knowledge management in an organization does not necessarily lead to successful outcomes in delivering open and sustainable services. It is often the case that there is a lack of clearly-defined goals and objectives, resources, professional leadership, management support, and policies. A properly formulated strategy is required, one that is a plan of action and which can be used to drive toward increasing openness.

‘Openness’ can be defined as in Wikipedia or by the Open Knowledge Foundation, though each organization can choose the extent to which it wishes to move toward openness.

Strategy is a road map to guide information and knowledge management functions.

Policies are the tools through which the principles of the strategy for openness are put into place and governed, and through which the culture of the organization can be changed.


Develop a strategy and policies to guide your information and knowledge management activities

The World Bank has produced an infographic which describes its’ vision for open knowledge through its’ Open Knowledge Repository. It shows how the objectives of an organization can be described in the context of a strategic vision.

1. Plan and develop a strategy

The strategy will define your information and knowledge management aims within which openness can be progressed. Developing an organizational strategy is a process which requires careful planning and team work, involving key stakeholders from the organization and perhaps beyond it.

Many organizations have an overall Organizational Strategy. In most cases this overall strategy considers how general objectives can be achieved. An information management strategy should relate to the organizational strategy, which may in turn relate to a national or regional strategy.

Your information strategy should focus on activities in which openness can be developed at a rate which is acceptable to your organization. These activities will be defined and implemented by policies (see below) and by technical developments (see the Group 2 CIARD Pathways for guidance on creating open information, data and knowledge).

Two resources are available from CIARD partners to guide the strategy development process: [IMARK Module Strategic Approaches to Information’ Unit 2 ‘Developing an information strategy  – containing 4 lessons] and [CTA ICM Strategy Development,  User’s Manual , and Facilitator’s Guide .

The CIARD Case Studies show how strategic planning and strategy development have been central to institutional and multi-institutional information management development in many countries. For instance, see the Cases for Kenya (KAINET) [( and  (].

A well-documented case of organizational information strategy development is that of the University of Glasgow.

2. Develop policies which enable openness

The development of openness will need to be supported by policies which relate to the strategy. These policies will guide the development of information resources and their management. Policies can be put in place which  make the research and training materials produced by an organization more open.

The following policies will all contribute to creating openness of research and training outputs. Clearly formulated policies will also help to address legal issues and good administrative practice. 

Deposit mandate: a mandate is a universal policy that all research and training outputs are required to be produced digitally and deposited in an institutional or thematic repository. [See ‘Pathway 1.1.4. Managing IPR’]  

Content types: a content policy should define the types of materials to be deposited: research papers ( and which version - prior to peer review by publisher or after the peer review process); field reports; experimental data; training materials; books; theses; types of file to be included - text, images, videos, audio, etc. Decisions need to be made on whether certain subject areas should be prioritized over others, and which languages are to be accepted. 

Content formats and metadata: staff should understand which formats they should use to provide content for deposit in the repository (Word files, PDF, html, image files, and so on), and how metadata, if available, should be provided. [See CIARD Group 2 Pathways on ‘Usability and Accessibility of Information and Data’ for more information on this]. Clear policies will help to reduce the amount of technical support required in the management of repository content. 

Workflows, deposit management, and quality control: be aware that workflows for the collection of some types of content may already exist in your organization (for instance, for deposit of documents in other websites or for their use in annual reports). If this is the case don’t duplicate activities, ensure that deposit is required only once.  There are different approaches to be taken to depositing outputs in a repository, for instance:

  • self-archiving - staff deposit their own content using forms/templates;
  • deposit management - dedicated repository staff, or staff already working in relevant areas such as the library, check that formats are as required and whether the content meets with the quality standards and types defined by the institution;
  • quality control -  how is quality control going to be managed? How will quality be defined and who will oversee the maintenance of standards? 

Content and data reuse: is your metadata and content (text, images, photographs, videos, etc.) freely available for reuse by other services, institutions, networks and stakeholders? Freedom to reuse content and data is common in the open access environment. It is best to be explicit so that users know exactly what is allowed and what is not. If you wish to impose restrictions, what are they? Some conditions may be imposed upon you by publishers or funding bodies or by existing copyright and licensing issues (see below under Copyright). You can always create exceptions to the general policy for individual items or types of item where this is necessary. 

Copyright and other rights management: legal relationships with other copyright and license holders (such as publishers, funding bodies, or owners of images), need to be clarified and adhered to. Different publishers have different policies relating to preprints and postprints of journal articles. Different funding bodies have different requirements for outputs from work they have funded. [See more detail in ‘Pathway 1.1.4. Managing IPR’] Advice in all of these areas is also provided by the SHERPA, RoMEO and JULIET services - see Resources below.

Embargo periods: publishers may request embargo periods before the end of which a published work may not be made openly available in the repository. Some theses and other works may also have embargo periods. These policies will need to be related to copyright and other rights management as they will form parts of legal contracts with other organizations or individuals. 

Preservation of content: retention periods should be considered - how long will content remain in the repository? What systems are to be put in place to ensure that content is preserved for the long term? Will some types of content be prioritized over others for preservation?

Withdrawal of content: consideration should be given to whether withdrawal of content is allowed, how depositors can withdraw content, how version control is managed, how complaints are managed e.g. if content should be withdrawn for legal reasons. 

Further benefits to the institution: agree ways in which the repository can provide further direct benefits to your institution and its staff, such as: generate RSS feeds providing ‘news’ updates on repository content and specific high profile items; produce information which helps research management, such as publications lists by department and individual; relate content to usage analysis to provide data that will help strategic decision-making, both for the repository and for research management. 

Targets and benchmarking: your Repository Manager, and your administration, will want to understand over time how successful the repository is. Factors such as deposition rates can be tracked, and comparisons carried out to evaluate whether staff are depositing their research papers and other materials. Turnaround times – the speed at which the deposition process is taking place – can also be tracked. 


3. Change organizational culture

Organizational culture - the ways that staff think and work with each other, and their attitudes to their changing professional environment – will need to change, but they cannot be changed overnight. It takes time and effort. But a properly planned and implemented strategy and associated policies, developed with the involvement of stakeholders across the organization, will provide a framework within which attitudes will change.

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