Save the dates: OpenCitations’ September events 

We are happy to announce OpenCitations’ participation in a number of online conferences and events during the next few weeks. Our directors Silvio Peroni and David Shotton will be speaking at the Open Science Fair 2021, the OASPA Conference 2021 and Open Access Tage.  

Open Science Fair 2021 (20-23 September) is an event organized by OpenAIRE, in collaboration with some key international initiatives in the area of Open Science: COAR, EIFL, Force11, LA Referencia, LIBER, OPERAS, Sparc, Sparc Europe. Like a real fair, the visitors can explore virtual pavilions, participating in various Keynote Talks, Parallel Sessions and Workshops dedicated to Open Science. Silvio Peroni will give two talks on Tuesday 21:  

  • In the Lightning Talk, “ScholeXplorer and OpenCitations as the new frontier of open citation indexing” (11:30 CEST), coauthored with Paolo Manghi (OpenAire), Alessia Bardi (CNR-ISTI) and Sandro La Bruzzo (CNR-ISTI), Silvio will present ScholeXplorer and OpenCitations, two of the services included in the MONITOR portfolio of the OpenAIRE-Nexus project. More information and registrations at:  
  • The Workshop “The perils of being invisible. Collective funding models for Open Science infrastructure” (16:30-18:00 CEST) “will help identify the main challenges of collective funding models for Open Science Infrastructure, as well as explore the path forward to make them more efficient”. Silvio Peroni, Niels Stern (DOAB/OAPEN) James MacGregor (PKP), Agata Morka (SPARC Europe/SCOSS), Jon Treadway (the Great North Wood Consulting), Jean-Francois Lutz (University of Lorraine) and Vanessa Proudman (SPARC Europe) will reflect on the evanescence of Open Science Infrastructure (OSI) in library budget considerations. The speakers will also promote interaction with other workshop participants in order to create a collective dialogue. You can register for the event here:  

The OASPA Conference 2021 (21-23 September), entitled “Designing 21st Century Knowledge Sharing Systems”, will be dedicated to “many timely and fundamental topics relating to open scholarly communication”, including  “the ongoing impact of the pandemic”.  David Shotton will take part in the Poster Lightning Talks Session 3 (Thursday 23, 1-2 pm BST), with the title “OpenCitations – what does the future hold?”, a reflection on OpenCitations’ values, data, services, achievements so far, and plans for the future. For further information and registration:  

Silvio Peroni, together with James MacGregor (Public Knowledge Project) and Niels Stern (OAPEN) will hold the Workshop “How Open Infrastructure Benefits Libraries?” (September 27, 11:30-13 CEST) as part of the Open Access Tage 2021 (27-29 September), an annual event dedicated to Open Access initiatives and community. During the workshop, the speakers will investigate the social and economic value of open infrastructures for libraries. For more information and to register for the event:  

We thank the organizers of these prestigious international events for having invited OpenCitations to participate. The Open Science resounds and grows through such community-centered initiatives.  

If you wish to learn more about Open Science, ongoing Open Access initiatives, and OpenCitations’ commitment to and activities within these areas, don’t miss the opportunity to participate in these on-line conferences … see you there! 

Cite this article as: Chiara Di Giambattista, "Save the dates: OpenCitations’ September events ," in OpenCitations blog, 15/09/2021,

California Digital Library invests in OpenCitations

OpenCitations is excited to announce that the California Digital Library (CDL) has joined our growing list of contributors.

CDL’s commitment to sustainable open scholarship has great value for the global scholarly community.  Through its investments and partnerships, CDL aims to create an international academic and librarian dialogue, trusting in the idea that “the university, its scholars and its libraries thrive when we transcend organizational boundaries and commit ourselves to shared investments”.

CDL’s contribution will generously support OpenCitations throughout 2021-2023. CDL funding in the fiscal year 2020-2021 also includes two other SCOSS-endorsed infrastructures, OAPEN and DOAB, the non-profit organization Open Access Switchboard, and the services PsyArXiv and SCOAP3 Books. As can be read in the recent post by Ellen Finnie, this investment reflects CDL’s “commitment to ’invest in open’ by allocating a portion of our collections funding to the development of open content and infrastructure in support of UC scholarship and teaching”.

OpenCitations team is grateful to be included in CDL’s ongoing investment in open infrastructure.  Thank you!

Cite this article as: Chiara Di Giambattista, "California Digital Library invests in OpenCitations," in OpenCitations blog, 10/09/2021,

Reflections on the global citation graph

In his call for open citations, Dario Taraborelli hailed the scholarly citation graph (in which the nodes (vertices) are individual academic publications and the links (edges) represent bibliographic citations from one publication to another) as one of humankind’s most important intellectual achievements.

We all understand that the inclusion within our own academic publications of bibliographic references to the works of others is one of the most explicit ways of acknowledging the thoughts, discoveries, achievements and influences of other scholars, and their contributions to our own work. Not only does what we gain from their publications enable us to make intellectual progress, by “standing on the shoulders of giants” as Newton once famously observed [1], but the influence of these publications extends forward in time across the entire intellectual landscape, like gigantic shadows cast at sunset, whether or not those influenced by these publications have occasion to reference them in their own works.

A bibliographic citation is not only “a conceptual directional link from a citing entity to a cited entity, created by a human performative act of making a citation”, but it is additionally both enduring and retrospective. Enduring, because once made it persists for ever within the global corpus of scholarly literature, and retrospective because (with the exception of occasional contemporaneous citations) the cited publication predates the citing publication.

At the anterior margin of a crawling cell, cellular protrusive extension (for example of a pseudopodium) is achieved by the catalysed polymerization of new filaments of the cytoskeletal protein actin from attachment sites on an existing stationary actin filament network, pushing the cell margin forward [2]. The scholarly citation network (or citation graph, the two terms here being used interchangeably) is similarly dynamic and temporally directional, being extended forward as new works of scholarship are published. Extension of knowledge is achieved by the catalytic inspiration provided by existing academic publications, themselves temporally stationary within the expanding citation network, leading to the publication of new works of scholarship that cite these previous publications and thus extend the citation network further into the future. The citation graph is thus not just an acyclic directed graph, but an acyclic temporally directed graph. Indeed, it is this temporal aspect of the citation network that is one of its most important features.

To use another analogy, the human genealogical tree is inherently multidimensional and difficult to represent pictorially in its entirety, because each new birth brings together the family trees of the child’s two parents. However, unless the parents are seriously promiscuous, the resulting genealogical tree is not impossibly complex. In contrast, the scholarly citation network is much more highly interlinked, since each new publication cites not just two but many preceding (‘parent’) publications, which themselves may beget many other citations.

Visualization of the global scholarly citation graph, or portions of it, is thus inherently difficult, and the important temporal aspect of the graph is the one ignored by almost every method used for visualizing aspects of that graph. Existing methods may take the broad view, showing the links, and the strength of those links, between one scholarly domain and another, thus visualizing the ‘structure of science’. Alternatively, they may take a more detailed view of a small section of the graph, visualize the proximity of individual publications to one another. Often a radial display is chosen for this, that shows in closest proximity those papers directly referenced by the selected publication in the centre, then at a greater radius those papers referenced by the cited papers shown in the inner circle, and so on. Because of the graph’s complexity, such displays quickly looses intelligibility after two citation links.

Among a small number of visualization applications that do not ignore the temporal aspect of the graph is Citeology, a temporally based citation network visualization tool developed some years ago by Justin Matejka and colleagues at the design software company Autodesk [3]. Unfortunately, this innovative software prototype was not central to that company’s mission, development ceased, and the Citeology Java app is no longer available. However, in his last email to me, Justin Matejka kindly offered to help others re-create this application.

There is thus an urgent need for innovative new open-source visualization tools that will clearly and dynamically display portions of the global citation graph, for example the direct and indirect citation connections between any two publications or any two individuals, along the temporal axis of publication date. Developers within the open science community please step forward!


[1] Isaac Newton, in a 1675 letter to Robert Hooke, wrote “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

[2] Bruce Alberts et al. (2014). Molecular Biology of the Cell. 6th Edition. Garland Science. Chapter 16, The Cytoskeleton.

[3] Justin Matejka, Tovi Grossman, George Fitzmaurice (2012). Citeology: Visualizing Paper Genealogy. ACM Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

Cite this article as: davidshotton, "Reflections on the global citation graph," in OpenCitations blog, 11/08/2021,

OpenCitations’ compliance with the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure

What should an open scholarly infrastructure look like? 

An answer to this tough question can be found in the original February 2015 blog post by Geoffrey Bilder, Jennifer Lin and Cameron Neylon

Bilder G., Lin J., Neylon C. (2015) Principles for Open Scholarly Infrastructure ,

and in the summary of the principles to be found as:  

Bilder G, Lin J, Neylon C (2020), The Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure : 

Infrastructure at its best is invisible. We tend to only notice it when it fails.  If successful, it is stable and sustainable. Above all, it is trusted and relied on by the broad community it serves. Trust must run strongly across each of the following areas: running the infrastructure (governance), funding it (sustainability), and preserving community ownership of it (insurance)”. 

These areas are fully define the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure (POSI), which provide a set of guidelines by which open scholarly infrastructure organizations and initiatives that support the research community can be run and sustained.  

As far as we are aware, Crossref was the first infrastructure to publish its compliance with POSI, detailed in Geoffrey Bilder’s December 2020 blog post

Crossref’s Board votes to adopt the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure.

OpenCitations too espouses POSI and, in January 2021, we monitored the extent of our own compliance with POSI, the results of which are shown in the following diagram. 


 Coverage across the research enterprise We gather citations from global scholarship 
 Stakeholder governed Advisory board 
currently lacks
executive power and is not elected 
 Non-discriminatory membership Membership open to all those espousing 
open science 
● Transparent operations Everything is open 
 Cannot lobby OpenCitations lobbies to achieve open 
scholarly citations 
and bibliographic 
it does not engage in political or financial 
 Living will Since all our data open, others can 
recreate our service 
 Formal incentives to fulfill mission & wind-down No formal plan for wind-down 
has yet been drawn up 


 Time-limited funds used only for time-limited activities Grant income should 
be used solely for grantprojects 
 Goal to generate surplus Goal not yet realized – 
income so far too limited 
 Goal to create contingency fund to support operations for 12 months Goal not yet realized – 
income so far too limited 
 Mission-consistent revenue generation Membership fees and 
solicited donations 
 Revenue based on services, not data All data and services freely given to community, and thus do not 
generate income 


 Open source All software under open source licenses 
 Open data All data available 
under CC0 waiver 
 Available data All data available via REST APIs, SPARQL endpoints, query interfaces and data dumps 
 Patent non-assertion We will not 
patent anything: 
is free to replicate 

We at OpenCitations are proud of the results reached in the Insurance area, but realise that we still have some was to go in the other areas. Although the general situation is already satisfying, we are working to strengthen our weak points. 

Cite this article as: Chiara Di Giambattista, "OpenCitations’ compliance with the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure," in OpenCitations blog, 09/08/2021,

Swiss Institutions pledge 89,250 Euros to OpenCitations

We want to express our gratitude to the 18 institutional members and customers of the Consortium of Swiss Academic Libraries which have now pledged 89,250 euros to support OpenCitations over the next three years. This generous donation is part of a total funding of 320,250 euros destined for the three services currently being promoted by SCOSSDOAB and OAPEN, PKP, and OpenCitations.  

The Consortium of Swiss Academic Libraries involves all cantonal universities, the ETH Domain, the Swiss National Library and other institutions from the fields of education and research as well as from the public sector, with the core task of licensing of e-resources (electronic journals, databases, eBooks) for its members and customers.  

As can be read in this post, Susanne Aerni, Head of Consortial Services commented on the pledge: “This pledge exemplifies the broad Swiss commitment to vital infrastructure for Open Access and Open Science. All Swiss Universities, all institutions of the ETH-domain, some Universities of Applied Science, CERN, and the Swiss National Science Foundation support these three vital services through the Consortium of Swiss Academic Libraries.” 

Thank you, Switzerland, for your support to OpenCitations! 

Cite this article as: Chiara Di Giambattista, "Swiss Institutions pledge 89,250 Euros to OpenCitations," in OpenCitations blog, 06/08/2021,

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.

Cite this article as: Chiara Di Giambattista, "OpenCitations at LIBER Annual Conference 2021: ‘How Can Open Infrastructures Support the Role of Research Libraries?’," in OpenCitations blog, 20/07/2021,

The Social Dilemma and open academic analytics

Last night I watched the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma (, in which former employees of the big Silicon Valley social media companies expose the serious and sometimes tragic or even fatal consequences that social media may have on individual lives. These social media services are run by commercial companies under pressure from shareholders to make ever increasing profits. In this situation, the ultimate consumers of these services becomes not the individuals using them, but the advertisers, and the users of these services (ourselves) become the commodities whose user profiles and personal preferences are sold by the social media companies to the advertisers for use in targetting adverts.

The Social Dilemma is a compelling documentary, since it is told by those who know (since they helped build and run the systems). It is particularly relevant to those who have pre-teen and teenage children, whose lives and personal interactions are increasingly being shaped and to a large extent controlled by social media, particularly during the current Covid-19 lock-downs. As recent events in the United States have highlighted, social media also pose fundamental issues around the definition of “facts” and “beliefs”, moving the debate from epistemology to politics and affecting the future of our societies.

From social media to academic analytics

Jason Priem’s self-portrait as a phrenology illustration.

From (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Jason Priem is co-founder of ImpactStory, Depsy, UnPayWall and other open analytic and open science infrastructures and services ( deserve ongoing support from the academic community.

Academic analytics is the application of statistical, predictive modelling, data mining and artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to analyse, evaluate and summarize various types of organizational, educational and bibliographic data derived from higher educational and research institutions, in order to provide numerical results that can be used to guide strategic planning and decision-making practices in these contexts. It is increasingly used for student and faculty assessment, for deciding the allocation of funding, and for evaluating the standing and productivity both of individual academic departments and of entire universities.

Examples of such analyses include the degree of cross-institutional and international authorship of scholarly publications, and their citation counts excluding self-citations, used as indicators of the importance of research project outputs; the correlation of student grades with their interactions with university services such as libraries and virtual learning environments, used improve the learning performance of individual students; and the drop-out rates and degree distributions of different universities, employed to evaluate the quality of teaching. Those using such analyses include not only university administrators and individual academics, but also, in the case of learning analytics, increasingly the students themselves and their parents.

The relevance of The Social Dilemma to academic analytics is that these, like social media, are increasingly controlled by commercial companies under similar pressures to turn a profit. Here it is the universities and their academic data that become the consumed commodities, while the commercial suppliers of academic analytical services are the financial beneficiaries of these data.

There are, of course, differences between these two situations. While social media companies and academic analytics companies both have shareholders that expect profits and users to whom they provide services, the social media companies have advertisers that bring in revenue, while academic analytics companies get most of their revenue directly from the academic community itself. There is thus a relatively close connection between those who provide the raw data and those who pay for the analytical services built over these data. Since the academic community is both data provider and the one who pays the piper, this means that the social dilemma around research analytics should be easier to resolve than the social dilemma surrounding social media.

A further important difference is the following: while participation in social media is strictly voluntary, most of the academic community are evaluated through data analytics and AI without their express consent. Information on faculty members is being collected and used with little or no recourse for the individuals affected, since there are few, if any, rights to disclosure, rights to opt out of data analytics and AI-powered reviews and decisions, rights to review the data for errors, rights to correct errors, or rights to appeal decisions based on such analytics. Academic positions carry with them the expectation of academic freedom, the principles of which are hard to reconcile with the intense individual scrutiny built into the deployment of academic analytics and AI.

The dangers of commercial analytic platforms in academia

In May 2020, Amy Brand and Claudio Aspesi published their seminal article In pursuit of open science, open access is not enough (Science 368: 574-577., in which they argued cogently about the dangers of commercial dominance of academic data analytics and knowledge infrastructures, and the need for open alternatives. Details of this growing commercial dominance of academic analytics, among other platforms and services, are given in the excellent analysis by Penny C. S. Andrews in her chapter The Platformization of Open (, in the book Reassembling Scholarly Communications: Histories, Infrastructures, and Global Politics of Open Access edited by Martin Paul Eve and Jonathan Gray (The MIT Press, 2020:

Take, for example, the major university rankings, such as the Times Higher Education ranking. These rankings are extremely powerful. They rely on proprietary data, ironically to a significant extent made freely available to the producers of the rankings by universities, which are then used to define how the performance of universities should be assessed. Times Higher Education, for instance, presents its World University Rankings as “the definitive list of the top universities globally” ( The performance criteria used by the Times Higher Education ranking, and a few other major university rankings, now play an important role in the decision-making processes of universities all over the world. However, because the underlying data are proprietary, it is hard to challenge the rankings or to use the data to provide alternative perspectives on university performance. It has become increasingly difficult for universities to develop strategic priorities that do not align with the performance criteria used by the major university rankings. For example, at one major European university, discussions about the development of an open science strategy explicitly take into account the possible negative effects of open science practices on its position in the major university rankings.

Application of the message of The Social Dilemma to the realm of scholarly information shows how the rise of commercially controlled academic analytics might fundamentally threaten academic freedom and access to truth itself. As Penny Andrews points out, several of the big players in academic publishing and scholarly communication are now building suites of products based around scholarly data and analytics, whose platforms rarely have open and transparent governance, and are encouraging universities to subscribe to such suites, sometimes in deals that, in the name of open science, bundle access to the institution’s scholarly data and provision of analytics based upon them with open access publication of that institution’s scholarly outputs, as, for example, in the Dutch Universities’ recent deal with Elsevier ( By gaining proprietorial control of such data, and by providing the default means of information transfer and workflows between a university’s administrative CRIS systems, academic libraries and individual researchers, such commercial companies lock universities and national consortia into non-interoperable situations in which their academic data, whether relating to their own standing, to the sources and distribution of their external research funding, or to the publication records and relative academic merits of their faculty members, are no longer fully under their own control.

The issues posed by the commercial deployment of data analytics are clearly compounded when these services are performed by companies which conduct other business with the academic community. A researcher who is faced with the question of where to publish her next article can be forgiven for deciding that, at the margin, it cannot hurt to submit it to a journal owned by the company tasked with assessing her research performance. There is a massive conflict of interest when companies that derive significant parts of their profits from publishing research also assess it and offer guidance on what projects should be funded next.

The urgent need for open community-governed infrastructures

For the reasons discussed above, the present situation in academia is dire. The academic community should take control of the data analytics infrastructures it uses, which need to be kept open, with transparent governance, to ensure the healthy functioning of the academic community. While the existing scholarly publishing infrastructure is well-established and hard to change quickly, the use of data analytics and AI in academia is still nascent and in flux. Hence it should be relatively easy to prevent ceding complete control of these activities to commercial vendors, who, of course, are merely doing what they exist to do, namely to maximize profits for their owners and shareholders.

Resolving this situation is within the grasp of the academic community, and its clear responsibility, although this will not be without difficulties. It may be much easier for a university administrator to authorize payment for a subscription to academic analytical services from a commercial supplier “that knows what it is doing” than it is to collaborate with colleagues from other academic institutions – often seen as competitors – to develop or fund alternative services that are independent, open and transparently managed, with all the implications that has in terms of the creation of salaried posts, recruitment or retraining of staff, premises, administration, etc. However now is the time to act, even during the current pandemic-induced economic recession, before commercial lock-in becomes a reality. Given the huge sums that universities already spend on subscription services of various types, it is clear that the primary problem is not the redeployment of existing financial resources, but is more fundamentally philosophical: whether or not academia wishes to be in control of its own data, or beholden to commercial interests. The development of community-controlled platforms providing open academic analytical services should now be made a priority, and appropriate sustained financial support for these platforms should be provided by the academic community, including governmental and charitable funders of research.

This week’s online OPERA conference “The Future of Open Research Analytics” (18-19 November 2020;, hosted by the Danish OPERA Project (, provides a timely forum in which to discuss these issues. 

I would like to acknowledge and thank Ludo Waltman and Claudio Aspesi for reviewing drafts of this blog post, and for their important and insightful suggestions for its improvement and expansion, which I have incorporated with their permission.

Cite this article as: davidshotton, "The Social Dilemma and open academic analytics," in OpenCitations blog, 16/11/2020,

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, 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

I4OA was inspired by the success of the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC,, 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, from the I4OA poster at, by attending the free I4OA launch webinar on October 5th 2020 at 4 pm CEST (register at, by emailing Professor Ludo Waltman (CWTS, Leiden University; coordinator of I4OA) at, or by following @open_abstracts on Twitter.

Cite this article as: davidshotton, "The Initiative for Open Abstracts is launched," in OpenCitations blog, 24/09/2020,
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