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RePol Registry Policy Generator - Description and Documentation

A trustworthy repository should have a transparent policy, informing users about the roles, responsibilities, rights and procedures aimed at ensuring that their deposited data are preserved and disseminated in line with the FAIR principles. The University of Belgrade Computer Centre (RCUB) has developed RePol as a tool to facilitate the making of key choices and drafting of registry policy documents.

RePol uses a lightweight online form to guide you through the process of defining a repository policy. By choosing options in the form, you choose sets of predefined policy clauses formulated in line with the current best practice. The resulting policy document may be downloaded, additionally customized, and integrated into your repository. The features of RePol include:

  • The platform is flexible and it and can customise the output. The tool asks for a few mandatory customisation inputs, several choices, and a few options related to primary choices. Based on these inputs, it creates a corresponding draft repository policy document by tailoring a carefully crafted and redacted template. Questions, inputs, offered choices and values, and provided explanations are customizable and are configured through the management of application configuration files and without any additional programming. The used data model reflects the evolving user-facing content, options and choices. The repository policy documents are generated after the user provides a few mandatory inputs (such as repository and owner name) and makes several explained and selectable choices and options. Some options are nested, i.e., some choices are shown only if choices or options they depend on are selected.
  • Choices and inputs offered to users are clear and well-explained, with reasonable defaults, well-handled mutual dependencies and, where possible, validity checks. Some of the offered values are complemented with an open-ended entry field, e.g., when specifying the thematic areas, types and languages of the repository content.
  • The policy template text is concise, clear and aligned with the current best practice, but also adaptable to specific user needs.
  • The collected data and the key elements of the generated policy are provided in a machine-readable format. This allows for an automated interpretation of created policies and extraction of repository-level metadata for inclusion in registries, catalogues and various operational and data discovery tools. Repository policies will be updated as needed to keep them in line with changes in internal and external rules, requirements, norms and conventions. Machine readability permits to easily save user choices and update or modify a previously created registry policy.
  • Users may additionally edit, customise or reformat the generated policy document using their regular document editing tools, as policy documents are produced in an accessible and editable text format. It is assumed that such edits are minor and that they do not affect the validity of associated machine-readable data.

Next steps

At this point, it is not foreseen that RePol will be localised to any of NI4OS-Europe languages, but the NI4OS-Europe team will evaluate the feasibility of this endeavour, especially as part of the National Open Science Cloud priorities and the activities performed by the networks of EOSC Promoters and NI4OS-Europe Translation Officers.

Updates may be also performed to the Repository Policy Generator depending on feedback and evaluation during current use. Special-purpose policy templates could be developed for some specific needs. Immediately useful would be the extension of the tool to the generation of other policy and repository configuration-related and potentially machine-readable artifacts, including those associated with various registries and validators. RePol will be aligned as needed with requirements and emergent demands to create artifacts for EOSC services in development, such as EOSC OS Monitor and OS Policy Registry. The policy template will also need to be readjusted to evolving norms in expectations for repository and service policies and the service certification context. The data used to create repository policies could be extended and exchanged with the Agora-SP service portfolio management tool used by NI4OS-Europe and EOSC platform. Similar policy templates and data entry forms, based on the same approach, rationale and modular structure, could be developed for generic services. Furthermore, the developed software platform could be applied to other similar applications, such as the creation of Privacy Notice, Terms of Use or Intellectual Property Policy documents, but special care should be taken to avoid duplication.

The technical implementation of RePol is general and quite independent from its current application related to repository policies, it may be adopted by other groups in need of similar specific or generic functionality, which would facilitate its further development. Although RePol has already been designed to be highly configurable, its potential application for other purposes would require further separation of core code and functionality from the application-specific configuration, templates and branding.