Introducing InTRePIDs – In-Text Reference Pointer Identifiers


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



  • <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.

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.

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 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.

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.


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.


[1] Silvio Peroni and David Shotton (2019): Open Citation Identifier: Definition. Figshare.

[2] Silvio Peroni and David Shotton (2018). Open Citation: Definition. Figshare.

[3] David Shotton, Marilena Daquino and Silvio Peroni (2020). In-Text Reference Pointer Identifier: Definition. Figshare.

[4] Marilena Daquino, Silvio Peroni and David Shotton (2019). The OpenCitations Data Model. Version 2.0. Figshare.

Citations as First-Class Data Entities: Open Citation Identifiers

Requirements for citations to be treated as First-Class Data Entities

In my introductory blog post, I listed five requirements for the treatment of citations as first-class data entities.  The fourth of these requirements is that they must be identifiable using a global persistent identifier scheme.

At the recent PIDapalooza Conference on persistent identifiers, held in Girona, Spain, I launched the Open Citation Identifier (abbreviated OCI, in line with DOI), the new persistent identifier for citations [1].

In this post, I describe the Open Citation Identifier scheme, created and operated by OpenCitations, which supports the assignment of Open Citation Identifiers not only to the citations present in the OpenCitations Corpus (OCC) but also to open citations present in other bibliographic databases.

Structure and syntax of the Open Citation Identifier

Each OCI has a simple structure: oci:number-number, where “oci:” is the identifier prefix.

OCIs for citations stored within the OpenCitations Corpus are constructed by combining the OpenCitations Corpus local identifiers for the citing and cited bibliographic resources, separating them with a dash.  (For definition of OCC local identifiers, see the OpenCitations Data Model).

For example, oci:2544384-7295288 is a valid OCI for the citation between two papers stored within the OpenCitations Corpus, the first number being the OCC local identifier for the citing bibliographic resource [2], and the second being the OCC local identifier for the cited bibliographic resource [3], these bibliographic resource local identifiers being unique within the OCC.  [Note: Supplier prefixes are omitted from OCC local identifiers of bibliographic resources ingested into the OpenCitations Corpus prior to February 2018, but will be included within all OCC local identifiers of bibliographic resources ingested into Corpus after that date.]

OCIs for external resources identifies by numerical identifiers

OCIs can also be created for bibliographic resources described in an external bibliographic database, if they are similarly identified there by identifiers having a unique numerical part.  For example, the OCI for the citation that exists between Wikidata resources Q27931310 (the citing resource, [4]) and Q22252312 (the cited resource, [5]) is oci:0102793131001022252312, where “010” is the assigned OCC supplier prefix for Wikidata.  (The colours here and below are added simply for clarity.)

The OCC supplier prefix consist of a positive number (following the pattern “nnn”, where “nnn” is a string of numerals of variable length which includes no zeros), enclosed between two zeros (e.g. “0420”).  The list of all assigned OCC supplier prefixes is given at

OCIs for citations between resources identified by DOIs

OCIs can also be created for bibliographic resources described in external bibliographic database such as Crossref or DataCite where they are identified by alphanumeric Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs), rather than purely numerical strings.

To achieve this, each case-insensitive DOI is first normalized to lower case letters. Then, after omitting the initial “doi:10.” prefix, the alphanumeric string of the DOI is converted reversibly to a pure numerical string using the simple two-numeral lookup table for numerals, lower case letters and other characters presented at For example, using this lockup table, “1” becomes “01”, “2” becomes “02”, “a” becomes “10”, “b” becomes “11”, and “/” becomes “36”.  To the resulting number, the appropriate OCC supplier prefix is then added, to clearly identify its provenance.

A citation documented in Crossref exists between the two publications [3] and [6], which are there identified by the DOIs doi:10.1108/jd-12-2013-0166 and doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000361.  We can thus create an OCI for this Crossref citation by using numerical representations of the two DOIs. These numerical representations are:




where the initial “020” in each case is the assigned OCC supplier prefix for Crossref.

From these two numerical representations of DOIs, the OCI for the Crossref citation between these two paper is easily constructed, and is:


While this is long for an identifier, it should be remembered that it will be processed computationally, and is not intended for human readability.

In this way, Crossref OCIs can be assigned to all ~350 million open references within Crossref in which the cited paper as well as the citing paper has a DOI [7].

OCIs for the same citation recorded within different databases

If a citation is recorded in more than one bibliographic database, a separate OCI can be created for each instance, each OCI having a distinct supplier prefix and being specific to that database.

Thus, in addition to the Crossref OCI created from DOIs and described above for the citation from [3] to [6], a Wikidata OCI exists for the same citation recorded within Wikidata, having the form oci:01024260641-01021092566.

Upon resolution of an OCI, the Open Citation Identifier Resolution Service will pull metadata only from the database specified by the supplier prefix of the OCI.  Details of the Open Citation Identifier Resolution Service are given in the next blog post.

It is important to note that an OCI can only be used to specify a citation between a citing and a cited publication which is actually recorded within a bibliographic database.  For this reason, the OCI “oci:7295288-3962641” shown below the second diagram in the introductory blog post to this series is presently invalid.  While the OpenCitations Corpus has metadata describing both bibliographic resources [3] and [6], it has not yet ingested the reference list for the first bibliographic resource [3] (which has the OCC local identifier 7295288), having information about it only from a reference within a third paper, with no information about the references [3] itself contains.  As a result, at present OCC has no record that a citation actually exists between [3] and the second bibliographic resource [6] (which has the OCC local identifier 3962641).

Representing OCIs in RDF

To permit the description of OCIs in RDF, “oci” has been added as a new member of the class datacite:ResourceIdentifierScheme within the DataCite Ontology.

The resolvable URL for any citation identified by a OCI has the form “”, where nnn-mmm represents the OCI with its “oci:” prefix removed. Currently, we are able to return the RDF description of all the citations contained in the OpenCitations Corpus and Wikidata. We are working to extend the coverage so as to include other datasets, e.g. Crossref.


[1]     David Shotton (2018). Citations as first-class data entities. Open Citation Identifiers.  Conference presentation. PIDapalooza 2018, Girona, 23-23 January 2018.

[2]     Armen Yuri Gasparyan, Marlen Yessirkepov et al. (2015). Preserving the integrity of citations and references by all stakeholders of science communication.  J. Korean Med. Sci. 30:1545-1552. (English.)

[3]     Silvio Peroni, Alexander Dutton, Tanya Gray and David Shotton (2015). Setting our bibliographic references free: towards open citation data. Journal of Documentation, 71 (2): 253-277.

[4]     Daniel K. Bricker, Eric B. Taylor et al. (2012). A Mitochondrial Pyruvate Carrier Required for Pyruvate Uptake in Yeast, Drosophila, and Humans. Science 337: 96-100.

[5]     Douglas Hanahan and Robert A. Weinberg (2011). Hallmarks of cancer: the next generation.  Cell 144: 646–674.

[6]     David Shotton, Katie Portwin, Graham Klyne and Alistair Miles (2009).  Adventures in semantic publishing: exemplar semantic enhancement of a research article. PLoS Computational Biology 5: e1000361.

[7]     Daniel Ecer (2017). Crossref Data Notebook (updated). Available at


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