OpenCitations and EC funding: OpenAIRE Nexus and RISIS2

The incentives for new OpenCitations innovative solutions

Two years ago, in their canonical 2020 QSS paper on OpenCitations, Silvio Peroni and David Shotton anticipated the creation of the new database, OpenCitations Meta, able to “offer a faster and richer service” by storing bibliographic metadata “in house”. Meta would “avoid duplication of data by efficiently permitting us to keep […] a single copy of the metadata for each of the bibliographic entities involved as citing or cited entities in the different OpenCitations’ citation indexes”, would remove the requirement for potentially slow API calls to external metadata sources such as Crossref and ORCID, and would enable us to index citations involving entities lacking DOIs.

Important synergies to achieve goals

Today, thanks to the recent involvement of OpenCitations in two EC-funded projects, the OpenAIRE-Nexus Project (Horizon 2020 EU funded project, GA: 101017452) and the RISIS2 Project (Horizon 2020 EU funded project, GA: 824091), the development of OpenCitations Meta has commenced, with a planned release date later in 2022.

The OpenAIRE-Nexus project started in January 2021 to embrace and expand the operation of a portfolio of thirteen services, provided by OpenAIRE infrastructure, public institutions, organisations and universities, classified into three portfolios entitled PUBLISH, MONITOR, and DISCOVER. The OpenAIRE-Nexus portfolios focus on the demands of the three main categories of the research lifecycle.  Therefore, OpenAIRE-Nexus makes sure such services are integrated to provide a uniform Open Science Scholarly Communication package for the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). Within the OpenAIRE Nexus project there is scope for producing not only support materials (factsheet, guides, video tutorials, demos) but also training sessions where the services in the three portfolios will be showcased, anticipating the EOSC onboarding process. The role of OpenCitations in the project is to provide open bibliographic citations, and interconnect and integrate (and vice versa) functionalities with the  OpenAIRE Research Graph and more OpenAIRE-Nexus services such as EpiSciences, OpenAIRE MONITOR) the core component of OpenAIRE infrastructure and services and of the EOSC Resource Catalogue. 

Additionally, we are happy to announce our recent involvement in the RISIS2 Project. The Research Infrastructure for Science and Innovation Policy Studies (RISIS) is a project funded by the European Union under a Horizon2020 Research and Innovation Programme. RISIS2 involves 18 partners working together to create and maintain a research infrastructure for the field of Science, Technology, and Industry (STI) Studies, and to build an advanced research community in this field. OpenCitations’ contributions to RISIS2 will include not only the creation of OpenCitations Meta but also the development of a new citation index of open references, the OpenCitations Index of DataCite Open Citations (DOCI), which will be based on the open reference holdings of DataCite and, together with COCI, will be cross-searchable through our unified OpenCitations API.

Lessons learnt so far

A year into the OpenAIRE-Nexus project, we have found that one of the most significant benefits for OpenCitations is our involvement with this wide cooperative network of European research infrastructures, services, and communities, within which we can exchange experiences, ideas, and knowledge, and discuss any challenges and outcomes with our colleagues. More importantly, OpenCitations becomes positioned within the Open Science ecosystem, as a valuable innovative infrastructure with strong proof of integration and interoperable operations. Being part of the OpenAIRE-Nexus team has opened up more future challenges and expectations, and raised the bar for the inclusion of more functionalities of value. Thanks to the dedication of its efficient communication team, OpenAIRE is also helping us by communicating OpenCitations services to additional users and stakeholders, by inclusion within the comprehensive OpenAIRE services catalogue, by releasing an OpenCitations factsheet and by permitting us to present the latest information on OpenCitations through established events (i.e. Open Science FAIR 2022). FAIR and openness of information is our motto, and we strongly promote this through all our activities.

Expanding our team

As announced in our previous blog post “Five reasons why 2021 has been a great year for OpenCitations”, the support we receive from the EU as part of OpenAIRE-Nexus has enabled our recent appointment of Arcangelo Massari, a software developer who is now playing a crucial role in the creation and development of OpenCitations Meta.

As the year 2022 progresses, we look forward to bringing you further information about other new goals for OpenCitations, made possible by the support we receive from our numerous partnerships.

Open Access Tage 2021: valuable insights from the libraries in the German-speaking region 

On September 27, OpenCitations’ director Silvio Peroni, together with Niels Stern (DOAB/OAPEN) and James MacGregor (PKP), held the online workshop “How Open Infrastructure Benefits Libraries” during the Open Access Tage 2021. Open-Access-Tage (Open Access Days) are the annual central platform for the steadily growing Open Access and Open Science community from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and are aimed at all those involved with the possibilities, conditions and perspectives of scientific publishing.  

The workshop gathered three of the SCOSS-supported infrastructures to discuss how Open Infrastructures (OIs) could encourage the engagement of university libraries, and how they could be beneficial game-changing alternative to commercial infrastructures. This theme, which was also been presented during the last LIBER conference, was here discussed under a new perspective, by involving the specific case of the libraries from the German-speaking region. Their point of view particularly emerged during the second part of the workshop, during which the participants were divided into two breakout rooms to discuss two questions each. These are the answers and comments that emerged from the discussions.  

1. What would prevent or encourage libraries in the German-speaking region to support open infrastructures? 

The three main concepts held to be crucial in this field were transparency, promotion and governance.  

Transparency: German libraries and public institutions often deal with strict funding limitations relating to donations. It is therefore crucial for OIs (a) to present in a clear way how libraries can get involved and the money needed, (b) to communicate what they do and how they can add value to libraries compared to other services, and (c) to clarify the direct return and benefits on investments. These points would make it easier to recommend OIs internally, especially when people from subject-specific institutions are interested in subject-independent OIs. Point (b) leads to the Promotion issue: Open Infrastructures should promote themselves non only on a global level, by communicating their impact in the open research movement as against non-transparent propitiatory services, but also at a local level, by providing information about the usage (and the value) of their services at an institutional and/or national level. This case-by-case narration (with attention to the specific benefits) would make it easier for the institutions to evaluate the sustainability of the investment. An incentive to donate is being actively involved in the community governance, i.e.through a board membership.  

Nevertheless, is also necessary for libraries to “take courage” when investing in such OIs, and, when possible, to overcome administrative boundaries by forming consortia. Finally, of particular note was a desire to see locally-managed sub-communities that could speak specifically to the German (or whichever) language environment, much as ORCID arranges itself.  

2. Community Governance. What kind of involvement do you want to see, how do you want to be involved? 

Some common problems which prevent the institutions from being involved are (a) a general concern about the fact that negotiations with publishers are typically the main focus of OA discussions – leaving little time to focus on OIs and other open initiatives, and (b) a lack of time, or of guidelines, for evaluating the different infrastructures to invest in. This is why SCOSS was appreciated as an intermediary in the decision process, because of its own rigorous evaluation and selection mechanismThe community-funding approach proposed by SCOSS thus seems to be the preferred way by which to support OIs.  

Regarding community governance, one idea could be to involve interested scholars in the governance of the open infrastructures (with the library acting as an interface between the open infrastructure and the scholars) rather than only involving library staff – although this idea was argued against in the second group, as researchers are often percieved as too busy to be functional in operational infrastructure groups. What also emerged from this second question is an interest in community involvement on different levels, for example as a community of practices or through discussion boards, mailing lists, periodic meet-ups, workshops, newsletters, etc. The community could also be articulated into local sub-communities, as in the successful case of ORCID and ORCID_DE.  

Using the ORCID Public API for author disambiguation in the OpenCitations Corpus

Among the external services used, the ORCID Public API is of crucial importance for the task of author disambiguation. During the OCC ingestion workflow, the main metadata of an article are usually retrieved from the Crossref API. While the JSON schema used by Crossref to return the information requested by its APIs includes a field for specifying the ORCID for each of the authors of an article, this field is usually blank, since such information is commonly not available in the data provided by publishers. We therefore routinely use the ORCID Public API to try to retrieve ORCIDs for all authors and editors named in the Crossref metadata for a given DOI.

The process is organised as follows. Once we get back from Crossref the metadata about an article, we call the ORCID Public API and search for ORCIDs associated with the family names returned by Crossref of all the authors and editors (‘agents’) associated with that particular DOI. For instance, using the Crossref metadata about the article with DOI “10.1108/jd-12-2013-0166” (API call: https://api.crossref.org/works/10.1108/jd-12-2013-0166), we extract all the agents’ family names and call the ORCID Public API as follows:

https://pub.orcid.org/v2.1/search?q=(doi-self:10.1108/JD-12-2013-0166%20OR%20doi-self:10.1108/jd-12-2013-0166)%20AND%20(family-name:Peroni%20OR%20family-name:Dutton%20OR%20family-name:Gray%20OR%20family-name:Shotton)

The result of this query returned by ORCID is as follows:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes"?>
<search:search num-found="2" 
  xmlns:search="http://www.orcid.org/ns/search" 
  xmlns:common="http://www.orcid.org/ns/common">
  <search:result>
    <common:orcid-identifier>
      <common:uri>https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0530-4305</common:uri>
      <common:path>0000-0003-0530-4305</common:path>
      <common:host>orcid.org</common:host>
    </common:orcid-identifier>
  </search:result>
  <search:result>
    <common:orcid-identifier>
      <common:uri>https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1448-3114</common:uri>
      <common:path>0000-0003-1448-3114</common:path>
      <common:host>orcid.org</common:host>
    </common:orcid-identifier>
  </search:result>
</search:search>

Then, for each ORCID returned, we call again the ORCID Public API, shown as follows for ORCID “0000-0003-0530-4305”, so as to get the full personal details of the agent with that ORCID:

https://pub.orcid.org/v2.1/0000-0003-0530-4305/personal-details

The result of this query is shown as follows:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes"?>
<personal-details:personal-details
  path="/0000-0003-0530-4305/personal-details"
  xmlns:personal-details="http://www.orcid.org/ns/personal-details"
  ...>
  <personal-details:name 
    visibility="public" path="0000-0003-0530-4305">
    ...
    <personal-details:given-names>
      Silvio
    </personal-details:given-names>
    <personal-details:family-name>
      Peroni
    </personal-details:family-name>
  </personal-details:name>
  ...
</personal-details:personal-details>

Then, two possible alternative situations exist:

  • If the OpenCitations Corpus has already recorded the personal details and ORCID of that agent, we associate that agent with the new bibliographic resource identified by the input DOI; otherwise,
  • If the personal details and ORCID of that agent have not been previously recorded in the OpenCitation Corpus, we create a new agent record with that ORCID as external identifier, specified by means of the DataCite Ontology, and we associate this new agent with the new bibliographic resource identified by the input DOI.
  • This process is repeated for all ORCIDs associated with that DOI.

Software reuse in different applications

While the OCC ingestion workflow explained above regulates the ingestion of new citation data directly into the OpenCitations Corpus, the particular software library that implements this ingestion is generic in form, and is being reused in another application that we have recently released in prototype, namely BCite (sources available on GitHub). BCite is a Web application that enables users such as journal editors, starting with the ‘raw’ reference text strings supplied by the author as items in an article’s reference list, to obtain ‘clean’ verified and enriched bibliographic reference text strings, for inclusion in the reference list of the citing article they have in hand, so that accurate rather than erroneous references can be published in the version of record.  Additionally, these references are at the same time transformed into RDF data compliant with the OpenCitation Data Model, including ORCIDs where available, thereby (in principle, although not yet in practice) permitting inclusion of the metadata for these cited works, and the citations for which they are the targets, into the OpenCitations Corpus itself.

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