Looking back to look ahead: OpenCitations’ achievements in 2023

The first month of the new year has almost come to an end, and we at OpenCitations have dedicated these weeks after the holiday season to retrace the progress we reached as an open infrastructure throughout 2023, an activity that has become a tradition in the past few years. Looking back to the achievements has proven to be a great practice for our team not only to honour and celebrate the success, but also to visualize the points to focus on to best serve our community when planning future activities. During 2023 we have reached numerous milestones, which can be summarized under the two main topics: technical developments and new connections. 

Technical Developments

1. New sources

At the end of 2022, we had enriched our collection with two more sources, PubMed and DataCite, which were added to Crossref. During 2023 we completed the integration between OpenCitations and the OpenAIRE Graph as concerns open bibliographic and citation data, and in December we included the DOI-to-DOI citation links derived from the Japan Link Center (JaLC). As a result, by the end of 2023, OpenCitations counted almost 2 BILLION open citations available in its collection.

2. A brand-new workflow for an easier consultation

The progressive integration of new sources is one of OpenCitations’ main objectives. However, the recent source increase made it necessary to design a new ingestion workflow to facilitate their management. In November 2023 OpenCitations launched the new workflow, designed to produce just two comprehensive collections: OpenCitations Index, collecting open citation data, and OpenCitations Meta, containing open bibliographic metadata of citing and cited entities involved in citations. This evolution is making it simpler for OpenCitations users to consult the data maintained by our infrastructure without reducing the information content and accuracy.  

New connections 

3. A great event for the community

In October 2023, OpenCitations hosted the Workshop on Open Citations and Open Scholarly Metadata 2023 (WOOC 2023) in the historical location of the University of Bologna. After two online editions, it was exciting to meet in person the researchers, policy makers and service providers who in the past few years have collaborated with OpenCitations in many ways. For two days, almost 80 people from all around the world gathered to discuss the theme “The value of open scholarly metadata for Research Assessment purposes”. The event gave us a picture of a young and enthusiastic research community, aiming to collaborate among different countries to spread the message “Open Science is Better Science”. If you couldn’t attend the workshop, but are interested in the theme, you can find all the presentations from WOOC 2023 on Zenodo. Stay tuned on the WOOC X account and website, we will announce the 2025 edition later in 2024! 

4. New and old partnerships

OpenCitations’ main activities, besides the technical development, are tied to its participation in R&D and funded projects. Since 2019, we have started building a network of collaborations all around the world with institutions which share the same Open Science values. In 2023, our involvement in the SCOSS 2nd funding cycle has come to an end. In the last four years SCOSS has worked as an international showcase for OpenCitations, making it possible for us to get known by many institutions on an international level. We are now proud to keep on collaborating with SCOSS within the SCOSS Family network, a community of practice gathering all the OS infrastructure involved in the SCOSS funding cycles. During 2023, the SCOSS Family was involved in four internal sprints dedicated to planning four actions – collectively advocating the importance of open  infrastructure, communications kit for ‘the post-SCOSS phase’, collective self-assessment towards POSI, and map open science infrastructure ecosystem including SCOSS infrastructures – and the initial outcomes were presented in the Scoss Family Public Webinar 2023. The SCOSS family will continue its activities throughout 2024.

In 2023, we also celebrated the update of the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure (POSI), as a result of the work conducted since 2022 with the “POSI-Adopters” group to make the principles clearer and more inclusive. In June, the OpenAIRE-Nexus project, started back in 2021, formally came to an end, with the release of the index of citations from OpenAIRE. OpenCitations is part of the OpenAIRE Catalogue, which also links to the exhaustive and engaging materials we produced within the project. However, we continue to meet the familiar and friendly faces from the OpenAIRE team in the meetings of GraspOS, a project which started in January 2023 involving several European Open Science institutions, services and infrastructures. In GraspOS, OpenCitations is involved as one of the Data Asset Sources, which provides both the raw and the structured data that can be used to directly support OS-aware RRA processes or to calculate indicators or collect evidence that can be of value in these processes. The researchers from OpenCitations and the University of Bologna are contributing to GraspOS by developing a tool for the extraction of citation data from PDFs, enriched with additional information on the reasons for citing (because the citing entity reuses a method described in the cited entity, for agreeing with the claims of the cited entity, etc.) through the implementation of machine-learning systems. Also, together with GraspOS, OpenAIRE, and many other Coalition members, the OpenCitations personnel at the University of Bologna is among the participants of the CoARA Working Group Towards Open Infrastructures for Responsible Research Assessment (OI4RRA), to work on enabling the research community to be in full control of the data and indicators it relies on in assessments. OpenCitations is always seeking interest from new institutions, and we are proud that our visibility is boasted by some reliable catalogues including the OpenAIRE catalogue, the EOSC Marketplace and, from 2023, also the JISC Catalogue. And soon you’ll find us in a new tool – stay tuned to find out!

5. Our way towards sustainability 

OpenCitations is increasingly gaining a prominent role in the community, establishing itself as a key player in changing research evaluation practices towards greater openness and equity. In recent years, OpenCitations has grown a lot both technically and in popularity, and for this we want to thank the number of members and donors who, even in the last year, have decided to support us and believe in our infrastructure. During 2023, our two Internal Working Groups “Governance Evolution” and “Community Building”, thanks to the participation of some members of the International Advisory Board for OpenCitations, reflected on the sustainability of OpenCitations, discussing strategies both at the management and communication level to ensure the integration of new actors into its subsistence. The groups will continue to meet throughout 2024, and some of the results will be released in the coming months. However, there is still a long way to go towards sustainability, and OpenCitations’ existence still relies on community funding, which is why OpenCitations still needs support: if you are looking for more information on why and how to support OpenCitations, you can read our recent call for action here. Thank you! 

6. Enlarging our team 

It is thanks to the support received that OpenCitations was able to develop its yearly activities, and we are happy to announce that in 2023 a new software developer, Elia Rizzetto, and a new PhD student, Francesca Cappelli, have joined our team to make this progress possible. The OpenCitations team now has a total of 12 members, including research fellows, PhD students, MA students, a Reseach Manager, an Assistant Professor and OpenCitations’ Directors. The number is expected to grow soon, as OpenCitations has recently released a call for the hiring of a System Administrator for technical infrastructure management.  

As can be seen from this brief (and detailed) report of some of the developments that have marked our 2023, OpenCitations is increasingly emerging as a community-based and community-guided infrastructure organization, in which there is an indissoluble link between technical progress and the network of people who guide the planning, work on implementation, and use or promote our services. Throughout 2024, OpenCitations aims to focus even more on harmonizing the relationship between the technical infrastructure and the community, developing more intuitive ways of accessing services and communications, and continuing to weave relationships with new research groups. We look forward to seeing what the year ahead will bring with it, and we hope you will continue to be with us.  

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 

OpenCitations’ 2022: one year, numerous outcomes

2023 has arrived, and it’s the time to put aside the old agendas and to fill the freshly printed organizers with new tasks. However, it is also worth looking back over the achievements of the past year.

So, before consigning 2022 to the archives, we want to take a moment to recall and celebrate all that OpenCitations has achieved over the past year, in terms of technical developments, community building, and our own internal organization.

Clarifying our objectives

Since its foundation, OpenCitations has been presented to the scholarly community as a infrastructure organization guided by the values of openness, equity and accessibility. In 2022, we publicly clarified our mission, our aims and our unique points by publishing these three documents:

In addition, we continued to monitor OpenCitations’ compliance with the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure. Because one area in which we were still falling short involved stakeholder involvement in OpenCitations’ governance, in 2022 OpenCitations started reflecting on its organizational structure by creating a Governance Evolution Working Group. In addition, we explored the further development of our stakeholder community by establishing a parallel Community Building Working Group. These two small working groups, involving members of the OpenCitations International Advisory Board, will continue to meet throughout 2023 to develop strategic plans concerning OpenCitations open governance structure and outreach.

More people, more tools

In 2022, OpenCitations welcomed two new full-time developers to its team: Arianna Moretti as software developer, and Ivan Heibi as the person responsible for OpenCitations’ technical infrastructure. As of January 2023, the OpenCitations team consists of our two directors Silvio Peroni and David Shotton, our administrator and research manager Claudio Fabbri, myself as our communications director and community development manager, and our four developers: Giuseppe Grieco (software and systems developer), Arcangelo Massari (developer of OpenCitations Meta), Arianna Moretti (software and indexes developer), and Ivan Heibi (technical infrastructure manager). This team meets weekly at the Research Centre for Open Scholarly Metadata within the University of Bologna.

This enlarged technical workforce has been crucial in the development of the two new OpenCitations indexes, DOCI (citations from DataCite) and POCI (citations from PubMed), and our new database of bibliographic metadata, OpenCitations Meta, all of which were released in December 2022:

  • DOCI, the OpenCitations Index of DataCite open DOI-to-DOI citations, is an RDF dataset containing details of all the citations that are specified in the most recent dump of DataCite metadata. The citations available in DOCI are treated as first-class data entities, with accompanying properties including the citations timespan, modelled according to the OpenCitations Data Model. Its first release (December 2022) contains information on 169,822,752 citations from 358,277 bibliographic resources.
  • POCI, the OpenCitations Index of PubMed open PMID-to-PMID citations, is an RDF dataset containing details of all the citations from publications bearing PubMed Identifiers (PMIDs) to other PMID-identified publications, harvested from the National Institutes of Health Open Citations Collection (NIH-OCC). As for DOCI, the citations available in POCI are treated as first-class data entities, with accompanying properties including the citations timespan, modelled according to the OpenCitations Data Model. Its first release contains 717,654,703 citations from 26,024,862 bibliographic resources.
  • OpenCitations Meta database stores and delivers bibliographic metadata for all the publications involved as citing or cited publications in the citations recorded in the OpenCitations Indexes. For each publication, the metadata exposed by OpenCitations Meta includes the publication’s title, type, venue (e.g. journal name), volume number, issue number, page numbers, publication date, and identifiers such as Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) and PubMed Identifiers (PMIDs). In addition, OpenCitations Meta includes details of the main actors involved in the document’s publication, i.e., the names of the authors, editors, and publishers, each with its own additional metadata and identifier (e.g. ORCID). Its first release (December 2022) contains information on 87,321,593 bibliographic entities, 277,750,235 authors and 2,359,301 editors (counted by their roles, without disambiguating individuals), 710,226 publication venues, and 17,268 publishers.

As can be seen on OpenCitations roadmap, we have many tasks already scheduled for 2023, and for this reason OpenCitations team needs to expand further: we now seek applicants for a new Research Fellow position to work on the further development of the OpenCitations technical infrastructure from April 2023.

Our role in the community

Throughout 2022, the OpenCitations team has participated both online and in person in a number of international events, presenting details of OpenCitations to potential stakeholders and to Open Science experts, and connecting with similar organizations.

In October, OpenCitations organized our third workshop, the Workshop on Open Citations and Open Scholarly Metadata 2023, as a three-hour online event, to gather together and connect researchers, publishers and policy makers interested in the creation, reuse and improvement of open citation data and open scholarly metadata. The invited speakers provided a broad overview of the current state and future development of open bibliographic metadata and the scholarly record, and the role of OpenCitations in research assessment.

We have participated in two major European research and development project: In the context of the EC-funded project RISIS2 we released the new database OpenCitations Meta and the index DOCI, while within the OpenAIRE-Nexus project network we continue to provide open bibliographic citations as part of the open data components of OpenAIRE and the European Open Science Cloud. During 2022, the OpenAIRE team supported our activities in many areas, with a particular attention to communication and dissemination, as we explained in our blog post OpenCitations and EC funding: OpenAIRE Nexus and RISIS2.

The end of 2022 brought with it two new exciting collaborations that will be developed during the coming year: the inclusion of OpenCitations in the Jisc Collections, thereby permitting UK institutions to support OpenCitations through JISC; and our involvement in the GraspOS project (starting date January 1, 2023) as an open and trusted federated infrastructure for next-generation research metrics and indicators.

Continuing support

At OpenCitations we are deeply grateful to all our members and donors that have supported us financially so far, thus making it possible to enlarge our team, maintain our technical infrastructure, and work on our new data releases.

Much of our success has been due to our selection as an infrastructure worthy for inclusion in the SCOSS second pledging round in 2019. SCOSS helped us get in touch with a wider community, and enabled OpenCitations to have an increasingly significant role in the research environment. OpenCitations is now part of the SCOSS family, the community of all SCOSS-supported infrastructures, that provides a framework of mutual support for the the Infrastructures during their growth and a safety net should troubles occur along the path.

However, OpenCitations still has a long way to go along the path from being a sustainable open infrastructure to becoming a sustained open infrastructure providing reliable and invaluable services to our global stakeholder community. There are still many long-planned activities that we hope to initiate in the near future, given sufficient resources. This is why OpenCitations requires ongoing support from the scholarly community as our three-year period of SCOSS sponsorship draws to a close. All the information you may require to start helping us financially is available on the OpenCitations website: https://opencitations.net/membership.

2023 has just started. With your support, you can help us in making it an impactful year for OpenCitations and the Open Science community as a whole.

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