AZON Project (2016-2019)

Project partners

Wrocław University of Science and Technology University of Life Sciences in Wrocław Medical University of Wrocław Academy of Physical Education in Wrocław System Research Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences


Open Science Resource Atlas (AZON)

Work on the Open Science Resource Atlas (AZON) began in 2016 at the Center for Scientific and Technical Information (CWiNT) of the Wrocław University of Science and Technology. The online platform was created as part of the project: Active Information Platform, And is to collect, process and share science resources in an open digital form to all interested parties. The project was started in 2016 by the Wrocław University of Science and Technology (Coordinator) together with Partners: Academy of Physical Education, University of Life Sciences, Medical University and the Institute of Systems Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences. In 2020, the implementation of the continuation and development of the project under the name AZON 2.0 began.

- Sharing is very important for one reason only: these resources, which are open, allow us to present the works we conduct, but most of all to develop them and look for partners around the world for joint projects developing a given research topic - said Waldemar Grzebyk, PhD, the project manager at the time and the current director of CWiNT.

As part of the first edition of the AZON Project, over 40,000 materials of various types were made available. By 2020, they had been downloaded almost 4 million times.

Project goals

In the first AZON project, model conditions were created for sharing the resources of scientific units created in research, educational and popularizing processes. Resources have been integrated and adapted so that they can be easily searched and reused in science, business or other interested parties.

The starting point was the analysis of the needs and solutions available at that time.

- Each university in Poland has certain resources that it makes available on IT platforms. However, there is no coherent system where the resources generated as part of scientific research or development can be shared. There are also no defined formats and methods of presenting the obtained results - added the project manager.

Hence, among others, idea for the creation of the Atlas of Open Science Resources.

Wrocław University of Science and Technology provided, among others, in the first project research data, repositories, incl. source codes, reference data, IoT data, scientific databases, e-learning materials, TV Styk PWr recordings and Radio Luz broadcasts. In addition, the resources of the Museum of Wrocław University of Science and Technology, 3D models, scans of 360 photos of these models, conference materials, scientific publications, reports and notes, resources of the Lower Silesian Digital Library and resources of the scientific achievements database were made available, mentioned by Wojciech Drzewiński, MSc., the then and present manager responsible for making the resources of the Wrocław University of Technology available.

According to Wojciech Cieśliński, PhD, the content coordinator of the AWF in the first AZON project, modern research institutions and universities are expanding their organizational space. One of the possibilities of such expansion is the virtualization of this space. It will allow on-line access to scientific resources and, consequently, to build new relationships with researchers from various disciplines, which will enable the creation of networks and research consortia carrying out interdisciplinary research.

The participation of AWF in the AZON project in 2016-2019 was dictated by the desire to make scientific resources available in digital form. This university has made available about a thousand publications digitized as part of the project, incl. approx .: 800 photos, 460 videos (approx. 900 hours) and 30 documents and 1000 videos (50 hours) already available in digital form. These are books, magazines, monographs, materials from educational and sports camps.

On the other hand, the University of Life Sciences in Wrocław made available selected university resources by placing approx. 7,320 documents and objects on the platform, which include, among others, an interactive base of research and development activities, a base of product and technology offer, and an educational platform with e-learning facilities.

The rest of the resources are: macroscopic collections, collections of paintings, drawings and sketches from architecture, collections of plant and animal specimens, soil samples, books and magazines, scripts, monographs, dissertations, articles and conference materials.

- The main goal of the University of Life Sciences in Wrocław, as a project partner, is to present the research activity of the university's scientists to scientific, national and international communities and to make the results of this activity widely available through universal access to information containing the scope of research conducted at the university, profiles of scientists conducting research and their positioning, the scope of educational activities and services that the university provides for society, including entrepreneurs - said Dorota Tedys from the University of Life Sciences in Wrocław.

The System Research Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, another partner of the AZON project, made available doctoral dissertations from 1988-2010, which so far have not been made available online. The collections are doctoral dissertations defended by the Scientific Council of IBS PAN in the field of technical sciences in automation, robotics and computer science.

- Due to the lack of free access to the content of the dissertations, placing them in AZON will undoubtedly contribute to increasing their availability for scientists, specialists and students - said Dagmara Borkowska from IBS PAN.

The Medical University of Wrocław has made available on the AZON website, inter alia, literature resources, which will include approx. 1,800 publications (approx. 300 thousand pages), published in the nineteenth and first half Twentieth century

- The publications selected for digitization are the achievements of scientists and pioneers of world and European medicine, professors of the University of Wrocław - said Renata Sławińska, the then content coordinator for the task managing digitization and dissemination from the Medical University in Wrocław.

This achievement reflects the rich history of teaching medicine in Wrocław and is a testimony to the continuity of Wrocław science, the multinational and multiculturalism of the creators and their impact on the development of medical, pharmaceutical, hospitality and spa treatment in this region.

In addition to scientific, cognitive and historical values, a digitized collection of Polish and German-language works after has a great editorial and biographical value and is a valuable material in provenance research, as many of them were published by well-known publishing houses and printing houses, in a beautiful graphic and editorial layout and provided with personal ownership marks, autographs, stamps, and marginalia.

The database of histological preparations was also digitized, which includes 1,500 cases subjected to preparation using various laboratory methods, including immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, fluorescent in situ hybridization, electron microscopy and tissue microarrays.

AZON for everyone, including the blind and deaf

AZON has also been adapted to the needs of the visually impaired and deaf people thanks to the use of, among others, transcription, speech synthesis, sign language teacher or subtitles.

An important element of the project was also the development of formal and legal rules related to the provision of intellectual property.

According to Agnieszka Kwiecień, who is responsible for the information system in the project, a lot of work has to be done before the resources become open and available.“First of all, you need to classify them and understand their structure well. Then you need to choose the way of their description and design how they will be processed in the system. Finally, depending on their intended use, you need to plan how they are accessed and presented. All this is done to make sharing data easy for scientists, and to make it easy for the public to find and use them”– explains Agnieszka Kwiecień. All these activities were the subject of works on the project.

AZON uses the achievements of IT in the field of software and hardware infrastructure, including uses and builds mechanisms such as dictionaries, standard data exchange interfaces and efficient search methods. The latter are especially important with such a variety of resources - from books to measurement results from specialized devices.

Project effects

  1. Providing valuable resources created in scientific units (research, education, popularization);
  2. Integration and adaptation of resources to accessibility standards (easy to search and readiness for re-use);
  3. Creation of conditions for the popularization of unique research results and their further wide use (in science and business and by the general public);
  4. Facilitating access to homogeneous collections of unpublished expertise in various fields;
  5. Building public awareness of the need to digitize science resources and the idea of Open Data among authors and recipients.

All resources are available openly and free of charge.

The project was financed by the European Union under the Operational Program Digital Poland.

From 2020, the development of the platform and the depositing of resources is carried out under the AZON 2.0. project.