OpenCitations needs you: support the change in research practices

In OpenCitations, we like to define our infrastructure organization as “community-based” and “community-driven”, and we really mean it. The support coming from the number of academic libraries and consortia coming after OpenCitations’ involvement in the 2nd SCOSS funding cycle has made it possible, starting from 2020, to make OpenCitations develop from a small university project based on time-limited grant incomes to being an open infrastructure globally recognized for the provision of open citation data and bibliographical metadata. We want to thank all our members and donors, for trusting our mission and sustaining OpenCitations activities with their continuous and generous support, despite the pandemic and post-pandemic times. 

While retracing our work in the last three years, we are astonished by the achievements our team has accomplished, and by how in such a limited time frame OpenCitations has approached David Shotton’s initial vision (who is one of the co-directors of OpenCitations), when he first shaped the project back in 2010. Here are just some of the technical developments that have marked the last years:

  • in 2021, COCI, the OpenCitations Index of Crossref open DOI-to-DOI citations crossed the threshold of one billion citations stored;
  • in 2022, we released the two new OpenCitations indexes of open citations, DOCI (citations from DataCite) and POCI (citations from PubMed);
  • we expanded our collection besides the citation data by releasing OpenCitations Meta, a database storing and delivering bibliographic metadata for all the publications in the OpenCitations Indexes, including the publication’s title, type, venue (e.g. journal name), volume number, issue number, page numbers, publication date, identifiers and details of the main actors involved in the document’s publication (the names of the authors, editors, and publishers); 
  • as of October 2023, OpenCitations Indexes contain information on 1.82 billion unique open citations. 

However, the most significant achievements for OpenCiations in the last years have been the creation of a prolific network of collaborations with other Open Science projects, such as OpenAIRE-Nexus, RISIS2 and GraspOS, and the establishment of a structured team, involving young researchers and PhD students, whose work at the University of Bologna has made it possible to work on the technical developments day by day. 

Our results are a strong indicator of the growing sensibility on the theme of the open provision of bibliographical metadata and citation data, of which Open Citations is at the forefront as a founding member of the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) and the Initiative for Open Abstracts (I4OA). The effort and awareness campaigns led by these initiatives, by DORA and the Open Science community as a whole, have led more and more publishers to a change of heart and to open their reference lists. OpenCitations is an integral part of an ongoing process of transformation of the research environment, and we have collected and interpreted some of the needs of the academic community to plan our future activities and developments. We still need your help and support to make it possible to maintain and improve our infrastructure and to sustain the team working at OpenCitations

If you believe in

  • the importance of open bibliographic data for the creation of reproducible metrics for research assessment exercises
  • the power of the scholarly community to change existing practice by reclaiming ownership of its own data– and you want to become an active part of this change

please consider supporting OpenCitations either via membership or donation. You can find all the information on membership on our website at https://opencitations.net/membership, or you can ask for information by contacting us at membership@opencitations.net

Together, we can work to create an open and inclusive future for science and research. 

Thank You!

OpenCitations is part of the CoARA Working Group Towards Open Infrastructures for Responsible Research Assessment (OI4RRA)

Last March, the  Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA) launched its call for members to propose Working Groups and National Chapters. The aim of the call (which was closed in June) was to foster the creation of Working Groups that would work as ‘communities of practice’ to enable systemic reform of research assessment by providing mutual learning and collaboration on specific thematic areas 

A group of 23 Coalition members, including University of Bologna’s personnel working at OpenCitations, collaborated in designing and proposing the CoARA Working Group Towards Open Infrastructures for Responsible Research Assessment (OI4RRA), focusing on having open infrastructures for making research assessment more transparent and responsible, and thus enabling the research community to be in full control of the data and indicators it relies on in assessments. 

We are now thrilled to announce that the proposed Working Group has been accepted, and will start its activities in the next months, with the mission to “enable institutions to move from proprietary infrastructure and research information, to open alternatives–in support of the transition to responsible research assessment practices. This effort will take into consideration the wide range of research outputs and open science practices and address the diversity of the global research community”. 

The CoARA Working Group Towards Open Infrastructures for Responsible Research Assessment will work to facilitate the use of existing open infrastructures, -, with the aim to make it possible a transition to a fully OI4RRA ecosystem – interconnected, decentralised and open –  that is fit to serve existing and emerging needs of reformed RRA agendas.  

For more information visit the dedicated section on CoARA’s website, and read the full list of participants in OI4RRA here 

The French National Fund for Open Science renews its support to OpenCitations

We are delighted to announce that the French National Fund for Open Science (FNSO) has renewed its commitment to sustaining the activities of four SCOSS-selected infrastructures, including OpenCitations. 

The four supported infrastructures (OpenCitations, the DOAB, LA Referencia and ROR) “were evaluated by the jury composed by SCOSS, then according to the exemplary criteria of the Committee for the Open Science, which notably guarantee transparency and the participation of the scientific communities in their governance”.

Since 2020, the FNSO has acknowledged OpenCitations as an infrastructure worth its financial support, thanks to its mission of disseminating bibliographic and citation metadata in open access with a level of quality and coverage, thus providing a workable, free and open alternative to the academic community’s current dependency on proprietary tools. OpenCitations’ work therefore frees up citation analysis, promotes the evolution of bibliometric indicators and the broadening knowledge of science.

The FNSO is now contributing to OpenCitations with recurring funding for 2023, 2024 and 2025 for an annual amount of €75,000. This generous support will be crucial in sustaining the maintenance and development of OpenCitations’ technical infrastructure, and in supporting the future activities of the OpenCitations team, that are publicly displayed in the OpenCitations Roadmap

We are extremely honoured and grateful to the French National Fund for Open Science for renewing the pledge of such a portion of its open science budget to support our work. 

OpenCitations at LIBER Annual Conference 2021: ‘How Can Open Infrastructures Support the Role of Research Libraries?’

For the second year, OpenCitations has taken part in the LIBER annual conference.  LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche – Association of European Research Libraries) is a network that gathers 440 research libraries, based in more than 40 countries all over the world, with the mission of supporting Europe’s research libraries by highlighting their value to policymakers, providing resources and training, and forming valuable partnerships. 

Since 1951, the LIBER Annual Conference is a key event for the entire network, a keenly anticipated meeting for research library professionals whose mission is “to identify the most pressing needs for research libraries, and to share information and ideas for addressing those needs”. Due to the ongoing pandemic restrictions, the 50th LIBER meeting (23-25 June 2021) was held online, as was the 2020 meeting, with digital co-hosting by the University of Belgrade Library in Serbia. The online-showcase format, however, didn’t constrain the creation of a vital virtual square, fostered by the voices of 70 speakers. The main theme of the conference, “Libraries and Open Knowledge: from vision to implementation” was deepened in 12 parallel sessions.

Professor Silvio Peroni, Director of OpenCitations, participated in Session #5 ‘How Can Open Infrastructures Support the Role of Research Libraries?’ with a presentation dedicated to the benefits of Open Infrastructures for libraries, dialoguing with James MacGregor (interim Managing Director of the Public Knowledge Project), Joanna Ball (Head of Roskilde University Library), and Niels Stern (director of OAPEN and co-Director of DOAB).  

The session, chaired by Maaike Napolitano (National Library of the Netherlands) opened with a presentation by Fidan Limani (Research assistant at ZBW– Leibniz Information Centre for Economics) about the integration of scholarly artifacts from the domain of economics using Knowledge Graphs (KG), and the creation of a network of entities describing objects of interest and connections, while keeping a library perspective. The use of citation links connecting datasets and citations, and the adoption of ontologies and data exportation in RDF would facilitate a possible beneficial collaboration between ZBW and Open Infrastructures such as OpenCitations (whose data is itself in the form of a Knowledge Graph). 

OpenCitations also shares some common features with the other Open Infrastructures described in the second presentation: the financial support from SCOSS project; the community-based approach; and their promising value for libraries and the entire scholarly community.  

OpenCitations is an independent not-for-profit infrastructure organization dedicated to open scholarship and the publication of open bibliographic and citation data by the use of Semantic Web (Linked Open Data) technologies, engaged in advocacy for open citations and open bibliographic metadata, as a founding member of both the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) and the Initiative for Open Abstracts (I4OA). It provides data containing more than 7 hundred million citations that the community can use for any purpose. Such data can be crucial as a vehicle for use in national and international research evaluation exercises to make such activities more transparent and reproducible as compared to other proprietary services. Librarians can use OC citation data (e.g., via our REST API) to enhance or develop tools to support their authors, researchers, students, institutional administrators in different kind of contests, for instance by providing metrics to monitor research at your institution and by improving the discoverability of research products such as publications and data. 

OAPEN is a no-profit foundation dedicated to increase the discoverability of open access books and trust around them. They are running three Open-Source platforms enabling open access to books:  the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) – a freely available basic indexing service easy integrable within library catalogues; OAPEN Library – a publication platform dedicated to hosting, preserving and distributing books; OAPEN OA Books Toolkit – public information resource for authors to build trust around open-access books. 

PKP (Public Knowledge Project) is a software and library project, consisting of three applications (Open Journal System, Open Pre-printer System and Open Monograph Press).  

The dialogue during this LIBER session wasn’t a mere presentation of these projects and their technical properties: the speakers emphasized the importance of ensuring the participation and the engagement of the stakeholder community, pointed out the crucial value of the support received – not only financial – from Research Libraries, and discussed how such Open Infrastructures can be beneficial for libraries. 

How can libraries support Open Infrastructures? And what role do they play in a long-term solution? According to Joanna Ball, from a librarian perspective, it’s not only a who-benefits-whom problem, but it’s more about finding a “third way, about developing mutually beneficial partnerships, and going beyond the traditional way of approaching things so that we can really play to each other’s strengths.” 

This approach is fully aligned with OpenCitations’ intentions. As Silvio Peroni underlined, in most of cases the active collaboration between Open Infrastructures and libraries is not only about the financial support, but in cooperatively reach a common goal. In particular, “if infrastructures like OpenCitations provide appropriate and easy-to-use interfaces and tools that allow librarians to contribute appropriate bibliographic metadata, and if librarians are willing to enter such metadata from their own records, libraries may become a significant reliable source of this kind of information”. The result of such a ‘crowd-sourced’ entry of bibliographic metadata by libraries would be an enrichment of the overall global open knowledge graph made available through citational links.  

In the last presentation, dedicated to two services provided by OPERAS, Emilie Blotière, (CNRS) and Tiziana Lombardo (Net7) reiterated the value of scholarly communication. COESO and GO TRIPLE, funded by the European Commission, aim in fact to create a persistent dialogue in the Social Sciences and Humanities community, by tackling the fragmentation and becoming a meeting point among different communities.  

What emerged from the session is the importance of communication, cooperation and networking between Open Infrastructures and Libraries, and this is a message that perfectly matches with the core values of LIBER, collaboration and inclusivity. The next LIBER annual conference is scheduled for June 2022 in Odense, hopefully recreating the physical and enthusiastic gathering of the previous meetings.  

You can find the recording of the full session here: LIBER 2021 Session #5: How Can Open Infrastructures Support the Role of Research Libraries? 

You can find the slides of the session on Zenodo.

The Initiative for Open Abstracts is launched

OpenCitations is proud to be part of the launch of the Initiative for Open Abstracts, a new cross-publisher initiative calling for the unrestricted availability of abstracts to boost the discovery of research.

The Initiative for Open Abstracts (I4OA), launched on September 24th, calls on all scholarly publishers to open their abstracts, and specifically to deposit them with Crossref, in order to facilitate large-scale access and promote discovery of critical research.

Making abstracts openly available helps scholarly publishers to maximize the visibility and reach of their journals and books. Open abstracts make it easier for scholars to discover, read and then cite these publications; promotes their inclusion in systematic reviews; expands and simplifies the use of text mining, natural language processing and artificial intelligence techniques in bibliometric analyses; and facilitates scholarship across all disciplines by those without subscription access to commercial bibliographic services.

Many abstracts are already available in various bibliographic databases, but these sources have limitations, for example because they require a subscription, are not machine-accessible, or are restricted to a specific discipline. I4OA thus calls on all scholarly publishers using Crossref DOIs to make their abstracts openly available by depositing them with Crossref. This can be done as part of established workflows that publishers already have in place for submitting publication metadata to Crossref.

As detailed on the I4OA web site at https://i4oa.org, 40 publishers have already agreed to support I4OA and to make their abstracts openly available. I4OA is also supported by 56 other stakeholders including research funders, libraries and library associations, infrastructure providers, and open science organizations, demonstrating the importance and relevance of this Initiative to the scholarly community. The launch press release is available at https://i4oa.org/press.html#pressrelease.

I4OA was inspired by the success of the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC, https://i4oc.org/), which encourages the submission of references to Crossref. Since the launch of I4OC in 2017, over two thousand scholarly publishers have chosen to make the reference lists of their journal articles and book chapters openly available through Crossref. I4OA aims to replicate the success of I4OC by achieving a rapid jump in the open availability of scholarly abstracts via Crossref.

Further information may be obtained from the I4OA web site at https://i4oa.org, from the I4OA poster at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4047454, by attending the free I4OA launch webinar on October 5th 2020 at 4 pm CEST (register at https://tinyurl.com/i4oa-webinar), by emailing Professor Ludo Waltman (CWTS, Leiden University; coordinator of I4OA) at openabstracts@gmail.com, or by following @open_abstracts on Twitter.

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