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.

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

The first issue of Quantitative Science Studies

The memorable date 20/02/2020 saw the publication by MIT Press of the first issue of Volume One of a new journal, Quantitative Science Studies (QSS), the official open access journal of the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics (ISSI). QSS’s Editor in Chief is Ludo Waltman (CWTS, University of Leiden, Netherlands), Vincent Larivière (Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada) and Staša Milojević (Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana, USA) are its Associate Editors, and it has a large and distinguished editorial board.

What makes the launch of this new journal remarkable is the story of how it came into being. In 2019, the entire editorial team of the Journal of Informetrics (JOI), a leading journal in this field published by Elsevier, resigned en masse and decided to start an alternative journal, QSS, both because of Elsevier’s position on open citations, and because, in their opinion, the financial model used by Elsevier violates the scientific ethos.

Reproducibility in the field of scientometrics requires scientific metadata that are both of high-quality and open, particularly those relating to bibliographic citations. The JOI editorial board was deeply concerned by the refusal of Elsevier to join almost all other large scholarly publishers in supporting the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC). As we have previously reported on this blog, Elsevier is the largest contributor of bibliographic references to Crossref, but insists that these data should be kept closed.

Elsevier’s position, driven by commercial interests (since it sells access to citation data through Scopus), flies in the face of the scientific community’s clear move towards open science, with hundreds of scientometricians having signed an ISSI open letter urging scholarly publishers to support I4OC.

Science is a self-governing system, and the editorial team held the view that the ultimate responsibility for a scholarly journal should fall with the scientific community, who serve as the gatekeepers, producers, and consumers of scientific content.

The editorial team also believed Elsevier’s subscription fees to be excessive, and its article processing charges (APCs) for open access publishing to be unfairly high, thus limiting both those who can afford to read Elsevier journals and those who can afford to publish in them, so that publishing with Elsevier inevitably places major limits on scholarship, harming both science and society. It was for all these reasons that they forsook JOI and started QSS.

We at OpenCitations congratulate the editorial team for their courage in deciding to make this journal flip, and wish them, together with the ISSI and MIT Press, every success for this important new journal. We also commend the Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB) – Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology and the Communication, Information, Media Centre (KIM) of the University of Konstanz, who, in collaboration with the Fair Open Access Alliance (FOAA), have generously agreed to cover APCs for the first three years of the QSS journal.

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