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.

New research fellowship position to work on the EOSC

OpenAIRE-Nexus is an H2020 project funded by the European Commission which aims at bringing together, within the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), fourteen new services focused on the development and promotion of Open Science. OpenCitations is directly involved in this project through the Department of Classical Philology and Italian Studies at the University of Bologna.

In the context of this OpenAIRE-Nexus project, our goal is to make all services offered by OpenCitations compatible with OpenAIRE, so as to guarantee semantic and technical interoperability with all the other Open Science services available in the EOSC. For this purpose, we now seek applicants for a new one-year research fellowship to be held from May 2021 (renewable for an additional year), for which the application closing deadline is 31 March 2021.

The goal of the Research Fellowship is to study the current limitations of the OpenCitations infrastructure, and possible improvements to introduce into it, in order to integrate it with OpenAIRE and the EOSC. The Research Fellow, who will work in collaboration with Silvio Peroni, Director of OpenCitations, is expected to address issues relating to the provision of Web services, the management of distributed and heterogeneous databases, and data ingestion and conversion processes.

The Call for Applications (in Italian and in English) is available online on the website of the University of Bologna. It also includes an attachment with a description of OpenCitations and of the activities related to the position. The position has a net salary (exempt from income tax, after deduction of social security contributions) in excess of 20K euros per year. As indicated in the Call for Applications, candidates need to apply exclusively through the University of Bologna web portal.

For further information, please contact Silvio Peroni (email: silvio dot peroni at unibo dot it).

Seeking applicants for three-year research fellowship position

A year ago, at the end of 2019, OpenCitations was selected by the Global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Services (SCOSS, https://scoss.org) for its second round of crowdfunding support, since SCOSS believes that OpenCitations aligns well with Open Science goals and is an innovative service. The goal of such support is to enable OpenCitations’ operations over the next three years as it transitions into a global scholarly infrastructure organization with a secure financial footing. As part of this work, we now plan to strengthen the current technical and computational infrastructure (server, parallel processing, backup, etc.) used by OpenCitations, which is currently hosted at the University of Bologna.

For this purpose, we now seek applicants for a new three-year research fellowship to be held from March 2021, for which the application closing deadline is 7 February 2021. The principal goals of this research fellowship are:

  1. to study the current limitations of the OpenCitations infrastructure and introduce improvements, and
  2. to design and implement new software control tools that will enable us to manage the infrastructure more efficiently.

Additionally, the selected research fellow will be expected to address issues relating to the provision of Web services, the management of distributed and heterogeneous databases, OpenCitations’ data conversion and ingestion processes involving parallel computing, and the overall security of the infrastructure. Particular attention will need to be given to data preservation and to the long-term maintenance and updating of the infrastructure.

The Call for Applications (in Italian and in English) is available online on the website of the University of Bologna. It also includes an attachment with a description of OpenCitations and of the activities related to the position. The position has a net salary (exempt from income tax, after deduction of social security contributions) in excess of 23K euros per year. As indicated in the Call for Applications, candidates need to apply exclusively through the University of Bologna web portal.

More than 733M citations now available in COCI

Today, we have published the bi-monthly release of COCI, the OpenCitations Index of Crossref open DOI-to-DOI citations. In this latest release (dated 6 September 2020), we extended COCI with more than 11 million additional citations. Now, COCI contains more than 733 million DOI-to-DOI citation links between more than 59.4 million bibliographic entities.

These new citations were harvested from the most recent Crossref data dump, downloaded on 19 August 2020, which includes the references of articles deposited in Crossref between 4 June 2020 and 3 August 2020.

We remind you that COCI has been fully described in our open-access article

Ivan Heibi, Silvio Peroni & David Shotton (2019). Software review: COCI, the OpenCitations Index of Crossref open DOI-to-DOI citations. Scientometrics, 121 (2): 1213-1228. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-019-03217-6

and that all the bibliographic and citation data in COCI:

A final remark: COCI and other OpenCitations services will be the topic of a presentation that we will have in the context of the Workshop on Open Citations and Open Scholarly Metadata 2020. The workshop is a 3-hour event for researchers, scholarly publishers, funders, policymakers, and opening citations advocates, interested in the creation, reuse, and improvement, of open citation data and open scholarly metadata, with invited speakers. No registration is needed to follow it – we hope to see you there on 9 September at 15:00 CET!

Where you can follow the Workshop on Open Citations and Open Scholarly Metadata 2020.

Additional 31 million citations in COCI

We are proud to announce that COCI, the OpenCitations Index of Crossref open DOI-to-DOI citations, has just been extended with more than 31 million additional citations.

As introduced in an earlier blog post and an open-access article recently published on Scientometrics, COCI is our first OpenCitations Index of open citations. In COCI, we have applied the concept of citations as first-class data entities, each identified using a unique persistent Open Citation Identifier (OCI). COCI indexes the contents of one of the major databases of open scholarly citation information, namely Crossref, and renders and makes available this information in machine-readable RDF and in other formats.

The fourth release of COCI contains more than 655 million DOI-to-DOI citation links between more than 55 million bibliographic entities. The additional 31 million citations added in the new release come from the reprocessing of previous dumps of Crossref  data. In particular, we retrieved all the citations that involve references in citing articles that were in the Crossref ‘Limited’ set when we downloaded it in October 2018. Such citing articles currently appear in the Crossref ‘Closed’ dataset due to more recent restrictive policy decisions taken by their publishers.

Finally, we wish to remind you that all the bibliographic and citation data in COCI:

The French National Fund for Open Science supports OpenCitations

The French National Fund for Open Science (FNSO) has decided to support OpenCitations, PKP, and DOAB as part of SCOSS, the Global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Services.

FNSO has identified OpenCitations as an infrastructure disseminating bibliographic and citation metadata in open access with a level of quality and coverage that provides a workable, free and open alternative to the academic community’s current dependency on proprietary tools, therefore freeing up possibilities for citation analysis, promoting the evolution of bibliometric indicators and broadening knowledge of science.

The FNSO is contributing € 250,000, which is 16.3% of the amount that was requested under SCOSS and is committing to a political and technical partnership with OpenCitations.

OpenCitations is deeply honoured and delighted that the French Open Science Committee has chosen to award such a substantial portion of its open science budget to support our work. These funds will be spent (a) on strengthening our computational infrastructure, (b) on employing software engineers to develop new data sources and services, and data curators to ensure the highest possible quality of our data, and (c) on community engagement through workshops and publications.

OpenCitations described

OpenCitations is an infrastructure organization for open scholarship dedicated to the publication of open bibliographic and citation data. We at OpenCitations are proud to announce the publication, in the first issue of Quantitative Science Studies, of a canonical paper in which we introduce and describe OpenCitations and outline its achievements and goals [1].

Here, I outline the contents of our paper, and provide definitive links on the topics described. Many of these topics have been the subjects of earlier blog posts.

This paper appears in the first Special Issue of QSS, dedicated to the description of the bibliometric data sources that lie at the heart of scientometric research, which aims to characterize the most important data sources currently available and to show how they differ in various dimensions, for instance in the data they provide, their level of openness, and their support for making research reproducible. The first three papers in this special issue cover the most important commercial bibliographic data sources: Web of Science (Clarivate Analytics), Scopus (Elsevier), and Dimensions (Digital Science), while the remaining three articles describe open data sources: Microsoft Academic, Crossref and OpenCitations.

In the introduction to our own paper, we describe the origins of OpenCitations, discuss the growth and benefits of open science, and introduce the Semantic Web techniques used at OpenCitations for recording and publishing our data. We then go on to describe OpenCitations’ services and data, namely Open Citation Identifiers, the OpenCitations Data Model, the SPAR (Semantic Publishing and Referencing) Ontologies, the OpenCitations Corpus, and the OpenCitations Indexes of citation data, of which the first and largest is COCI, the OpenCitations Index of Crossref open DOI-to-DOI citations, that currently holds information on over 624 million citations. We conclude our survey of OpenCitations’ services and data by outlining the generic open source software developed at OpenCitations, including OSCAR, the OpenCitations RDF Search Application for searching over RDF datasets, LUCINDA, OSCAR’s associated OpenCitations RDF Resource Browser, and RAMOSE, OpenCitations’ application for creating REST APIs over SPARQL endpoints, thus opening Semantic Web datasets to those not familiar with SPARQL, the RDF query language.

In the second half of the paper, we describe OpenCitations as an organization in terms of its compliance with the principles for the sustainability of open infrastructures proposed by Bilder, Lin and Neylon (2015) [2], and report the selection of OpenCitations by the Global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Services (SCOSS) as an open infrastructure organization worthy of crowd-funding support by the stakeholder community. We then provide usage statistics for our datasets and web site, and describe the adoption of OpenCitations data and services by the community, before concluding with a forward look at our proposed developments of OpenCitations activities.

References

[1] Silvio Peroni and David Shotton (2020). OpenCitations, an infrastructure organization for open scholarship. Quantitative Science Studies 1 (1): 428-444. https://doi.org/10.1162/qss_a_00023

[2] Geoffrey Bilder, Jennifer Lin and Cameron Neylon (2015). Principles for open scholarly infrastructures. Figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1314859

Introducing InTRePIDs – In-Text Reference Pointer Identifiers

Rationale

Readers of this blog will be familiar with Open Citation Identifiers (OCIs), described in an earlier post and formally defined in [1]. OCIs enable bibliographic citations, treated as first class information entities, to be uniquely identified and referenced, and are used to identify the >624 million individual citations indexed in the latest release of COCI, the OpenCitations Index of Crossref open DOI-to-DOI citations, as described in a recent post.

However, COCI and similar citation indexes do not provide any information about where within the citing paper a citation is generated, the textual contexts of the in-text reference pointers, or the reasons for including different in-text reference pointers denoting the same reference at different points within the text.

As explained in the preceding post describing the Open Biomedical Citations in Context Corpus funded by the Wellcome Trust and under development by OpenCitations, deep citation analysis requires a more nuanced approach to citations, which acknowledges that each in-text reference pointer that denotes a bibliographic reference in the reference list of a citing publication instantiates its own citation, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Citations between a citing paper and a cited paper instantiated both by the inclusion of a bibliographic reference within the reference list of the citing paper and by the inclusion within the text of the citing paper of one or more in-text reference pointers denoting that reference.

The pointer citations clearly involve the same cited publication as does the reference citation itself, but each has its own unique characteristics: the location and textual context of its in-text reference pointer within the text of the citing publication, and its particular rhetorical function which is determined by that context.

If the reference citation is open (as defined in [2]) and identified by an OCI, each in-text reference pointer related to that citation can be identified uniquely using an In-Text Reference Pointer Identifier (InTRePID).

InTRePIDs facilitate in-depth scholarship on in-text reference pointer locations and citation functions, and fine-grained analysis of the relationships between publications, by making it possible

  • to identify each in-text reference pointer with a unique PID,
  • 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 or within an in-text reference pointer list),
  • to determine from which section(s) of the article references are cited (e.g. Introduction, Methods, Discussion), and, potentially,
  • to determine the rhetorical function of the citations from analysis of their textual contexts, by the application of natural language processing, machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques to conduct sentiment analysis on the citation contexts.

Definition of an InTRePID

An InTRePID is composed of two parts separated by an oblique stroke

intrepid:<oci-numerals>/<ordinal><total>

where

  • <oci-numerals> is the numerical part of the OCI uniquely identifying the particular open citation to which the in-text reference pointer and its denoted bibliographic reference relate. Thus an InTRePID can be assigned for any in-text reference pointer that relates to an open citation for which a valid OCI has been assigned;
  • <ordinal> identifies the nth occurrence of an in-text reference pointer within the text of the citing paper relating to that citation; and
  • <total> defines the total number of in-text reference pointers denoting that bibliographic reference within the citing paper.

For example, intrepid:070433-070475/46 is a valid InTRePID for an in-text reference pointer defined within the OpenCitations Citations in Context Corpus.

A formal definition document for the InTRePID is given in [3].

Exemplar in-text reference pointers

Consider the following citing paper:

Zou, J. et al. (2020). Phenotypic and genotypic correlates of penicillin susceptibility in nontoxigenic Corynebacterium diphtheriae, British Columbia, Canada, 2015–2018. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 26: 97-103. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2601.191241

This paper contains six in-text reference pointers denoting Reference 13 in the reference list:

13. Lowe, C. et al. (2011). Cutaneous diphtheria in the urban poor population of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: a 10-year review. J. Clinical Microbiology 49: 2664-2666. https://doi.org/10.1128/JCM.00362-11

The InTRePIDs for these pointers are recorded within the OpenCitations Biomedical Citations in Context Corpus, together with the corpus identifiers and DOIs of the citing and cited papers, as shown in the excerpt presented in Figure 2.

Figure 2. An excerpt from the OpenCitations Biomedical Citations in Context Corpus, showing highlighted the InTRePIDs for the six in-text reference pointers within Zou, J. et al. (2020) denoting Reference 13, the reference to Lowe, C. et al. (2011), together with the internal corpus identifiers for each in-text reference pointer, and the corpus identifiers and DOIs for the citing and cited papers.

Of these six in-text reference pointers, having InTRePIDs intrepid:070433-070475/1-6 to intrepid:070433-070475/6-6, the first and the fourth of these, together with their document locations, their embedding sentences, their in-text reference pointer lists, and their InTRePIDs, chosen as examples, are as follows:

Introduction. “Nontoxigenic strains have been shown to have epidemic potential, causing infections in persons afflicted by homelessness, alcohol abuse, and injection drug use (9,13–15).” (intrepid:070433-070475/1-6)

Discussion. “We also noted ST5 and ST32 in our review from downtown Vancouver during 1998–2007 (13).” (intrepid:070433-070475/4-6)

The first of these discusses those people most susceptible to diphtheria infection, while the other discusses which multilocus sequence types (STs) of C. diphtheriae were found, thus relating to the organism causing the infection rather than to the infected individuals. The rhetorical function of these two in-text reference pointers is quite distinct.

To permit this information to be recorded within the OpenCitations Citations in Context Corpus, extensions were required to the OpenCitations Data Model, a new extended version of which was recently published [4], as described in a related blog post.

The OpenCitations InTRePID Resolution Service

To support the use of InTRePIDs to identify in-text reference pointers, OpenCitations has recently developed an InTRePID Resolution Service (currently in ‘beta’ in its development cycle), which is running at http://opencitations.net/intrepid. A screenshot of this service is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. A screenshot of the user interface of the InTRePID Resolution Service.

In addition to using the Web user interface shown in Figure 3, InTRePIDs can be entered into this resolution service in the form of resolvable URIs, e.g.

http://opencitations.net/intrepid/070433-070475/4-6

As shown in Figure 4, the OpenCitations InTRePID Resolution service returns metadata concerning the in-text reference pointer identified by the InTRePID, and the bibliographic reference that it denotes, from which further information about the citation and the citing and cited publications may be obtained by following the links provided.

Figure 4. A screenshot of the Web page displaying metadata returned by the InTRePID Resolution Service.

Note that as well as rendering this information in HTML on a web page, the resolution service can also provide it in a variety of machine-readable formats.

Conclusion

InTRePIDs, which enable the identification of individual in-text reference pointers, and the InTRePID Resolution Service, are new services from OpenCitations that will facilitate scholarship on the textual contexts and rhetorical functions of such in-text reference pointers, and of the citations that they instantiate.

InTRePIDs were first announced on 30th January 2020 at PIDapalooza 2020 in Lisbon, the Open Festival of Persistent Identifiers.

References

[1] Silvio Peroni and David Shotton (2019): Open Citation Identifier: Definition. Figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7127816.v2

[2] Silvio Peroni and David Shotton (2018). Open Citation: Definition. Figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.6683855

[3] David Shotton, Marilena Daquino and Silvio Peroni (2020). In-Text Reference Pointer Identifier: Definition. Figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.11674032

[4] Marilena Daquino, Silvio Peroni and David Shotton (2019). The OpenCitations Data Model. Version 2.0. Figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.3443876

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