Promoting accessibility of scientific information and digital data in food & agriculture 

Since 1974, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has provided support to its member countries to make their research outputs visible and accessible through the International System for Agricultural Science and Technology (AGRIS); one of the most comprehensive search engines in food and agricultural scientific literature providing free access to millions of bibliographic records in 90 different languages.

AGRIS facilitates the AGRIS Network with up to hundreds of organisations worldwide contributing knowledge and data to the AGRIS platform, resulting in a multilingual bibliographic collection of food and agricultural scientific research with special attention to scientific information produced in the global south. Therefore, AGRIS is used by whoever is inclined to find literature on any of FAO’s areas of interest. 

The role of AGRIS in the food and agriculture scientific framework

In the case of scientific literature in food and agriculture, there are certain singularities that make AGRIS unique. For example, grey literature (materials and research produced by organisations outside of the traditional commercial or academic publishing and distribution channels – Wikipedia) is critical, while journal articles are not necessarily the only scholarly communication channel that counts. AGRIS prioritises the collection and harvesting of peer-reviewed and grey literature in equal measure.

Secondly, while in other sciences English is the pivotal language, due to the diversity of languages being used in food and agriculture, it is necessary to consider multilingualism and semantic strategies as a way of increasing accessibility to scientific literature. AGRIS plays a key role in providing accessibility and visibility to enormous quantities of information and knowledge in different languages through the use of AGROVOC; the FAO multilingual thesaurus in more than 40 languages.

Another AGRIS priority is to increase analysis of agricultural performance and, consequently, help inform agricultural investment, innovation and policy to drive changes towards increased sustainability in the agriculture sector. 

Resources indexed by AGRIS

AGRIS is currently indexing books, journal articles, monographs, book chapters, datasets and grey literature – including unpublished scientific and technical reports, theses, dissertations and conference papers in the area of food and agriculture.

AGRIS indexes bibliographic references but does not store the full text articles. However, AGRIS includes available links via a clickable icon next to ‘Access the full text’; displayed on the right side of the screen on the description of the resource page. Resources submitted before 2010 might not have the link. In these cases, it is recommended to contact the data provider directly and ask for an electronic copy of the resource. 

The AGRIS Network

AGRIS is supported by a community of data providers, partners and users. AGRIS ingests bibliographic metadata provided by the community and publishes it. The metadata is captured through either (a) pulling data through harvesting from clients or (b) by data submitted directly to AGRIS.

AGRIS’ vision is to be a responsive service to its global users’ needs by facilitating their contribution to the AGRIS core knowledgebase, AGRIS’s future and its continuous development.

The involvement of the AGRIS community of users and further collaboration on technical developments will be invaluable in strengthening and developing new functionalities for the AGRIS portal. Feedback received from the community of data providers, partners and users is important for the possible improvements to the AGRIS portal and the knowledgebase.

Note: you do not need to join the AGRIS Network to use the AGRIS data collection. You can browse and search for free. Registration is only needed if your organisation wants to contribute data to AGRIS.