At the end of 2019, OpenCitations was selected by The Global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Service (SCOSS) for presentation to the international scholarly community for crowd-sourced sustainability funding, along with the Public Knowledge Project (PKP) and the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB). Since 2017, SCOSS has been helping identify non-commercial services essential to Open Science, and making recommendations that these services should be considered for funding support by the global OA/OS community of stakeholders (academic institutions and their libraries, research institutes, publishers, funding organisations, national and regional governments, international organisations, learned societies and service providers worldwide, and everyone who is invested in Open Access and Open Science).
Since OpenCitations is not-for-profit and all our data and services are free, the relationship with SCOSS is crucial in maintaining and developing OpenCitations’ infrastructure and continuing to make our data and service freely available.
Thanks to the renewed engagement and support from the OA/OS Community, 2020 has been a year of great achievements for OpenCitations.
As first described here, the starting point has been the set-up of an initial open governance structure. For administrative convenience, OpenCitations is managed by the Research Centre for Open Scholarly Metadata at the University of Bologna. Currently, the organizational bodies included in the OpenCitations governance are three: the Directors, the International Advisory Board, and the Council. All these bodies are regulated and described in two documents, “Organizational Bodies and Finances”, and “Rules for Membership” that specifically describes the criteria for Membership of OpenCitations.
The generous support received from OpenCitations’ donors and members during 2020 is making it possible to pay for necessary services and the salaries of personnel to support the daily activities of OpenCitations, thus enhancing the administration of OpenCitations and communication with new supporters and collaborators.
Separately, the involvement of OpenCitations in different funding applications throughout 2020 has led to the successful development of two projects.
The first one, OpenAIRE Nexus, started on 1 January 2021 with the aim to create a framework of services for assisting in publishing research, monitoring its impact, helping promote its discovery, and integrating it into the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) for the benefit of the open science community worldwide. OpenCitations’ role in this will be to provide open bibliographic citations as part of the open data components of OpenAIRE and the EOSC.
The second project, the Open Biomedical Citations in Context Corpus, funded by the Wellcome Trust from July 2019 to December 2020, had the aim to expand the types of citation data provided by OpenCitations to include information about each individual in-text reference and its semantic context. This makes it possible, for example, to distinguish references that are cited only once from those that are cited multiple times, to see which references are cited together (e.g. in the same sentence), to determine in which section of the article references are cited (e.g. Introduction, Methods), and to specify the textual context of each citation, thus potentially making it possible to determine the function of the citation. Part of the grant received for this project was used to cover the salaries and expenses of developers who worked on the creation of a new persistent identifier (PID) for in-text reference pointers, the In-Text Reference Pointer Identifier (InTRePID) first described here, in the release of the new version of the OpenCitations Data Model (OCDM), and the creation of a new database, the Open Biomedical Citations in Context Corpus (CCC) containing the metadata describing the in-text references that we processed, drawn from the open biomedical literature.
Through its projects, OpenCitations has strengthened its connections with data of topical urgency. A relevant and timely output, for instance, was the creation of the Coronavirus Open Citations Dataset, which contains (as of 16 May 2020) information about 189,697 citations and about the 49,719 citing or cited articles involved in these citations related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The involvement of OpenCitations in the SCOSS community has included our participation to several SCOSS-related events (amongst others, the SCOSS Webinar for the Couperin Consortium, the JROST Conference 2020), and the Jisc Webinar Sustaining the future of key open research infrastructure services (SCOSS) in order to present OpenCitations to the OA/OS community, together with the other Open Infrastructures selected in the first and second funding cycles. In addition, during 2020 OpenCitations participated in several international conferences, talks and meetups, including PIDapalooza 2020 and the International Semantic Web Conference 2020, and organized and co-hosted the Workshop on Open Citations and Scholarly Metadata 2020 (September 2020), gathering scholars, policy makers, publishers, and open scholarly data advocates.
Being part of the SCOSS network during 2020 has been an enriching and stimulating opportunity. The support of the international coalition for Open Science has resulted in a massive interest from European governments and Institutions (including the French Government through its National Plan for Open Science, the AgroParisTech, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and the Royal Danish Library), and the involvement of the Canadian Research Knowledge Network and the Council of Australian University Librarians. So far, 2021 seems to be equally promising, as judged by the increasing support being shown by US consortia for open infrastructures. Between May 2020 and April 2021 the US was responsible for 19% of the traffic to OpenCitations services, and every month has been listed in the top 4 countries using our data.
Despite the enthusiastic results, there’s still much to be done: 2020 was the first year of a three-year-long collaborative journey, in which OpenCitations will be moving forward with SCOSS to create an open, secured and inclusive future for science and research.