Posted on August 10th 2022 by Chiara Di Giambattista
More than a year ago, Ginny Hendricks, Director of Member & Community Outreach for Crossref, and a valued member of the OpenCitations International Advisory Board, published on the Crossref blog the post “The road ahead: our strategy through 2025”. In order to describe all Crossref’s principles and activities, Ginny presented the Crossref strategic planning framework as a diagram summarizing Crossref’s statements, key messages and truths. The clarity and immediacy of the diagram were such that we adapted it to present OpenCitations’ own statements and goals. The resulting poster “OpenCitations – what does the future hold?” was presented by our Director David Shotton at the OASPA2021 conference, and can be found in this blog post.
Although the poster offered a wide overview of OpenCitations values, unique traits, benefits and plans, it differed slightly from Ginny’s original diagram, in particular because it lacked a “Mission Statement”, scattering the relevant information within the “Values” and “Principles” boxes. Indeed, at that time (September 2021), we didn’t have a clearly defined Mission Statement.
Nevertheless, the creation of that poster was crucial in helping us start to articulate more clearly the purpose and meaning of OpenCitations. As David underlined in his post “From little acorns…a retrospective on OpenCitations”, since 2018 OpenCitations activities have progressively increased and, with them, the number of related journal articles, conference papers and technical definitions. OpenCitations’ involvement in international networks and collaborations (such as SCOSS and the OpenAIRE-Nexus project), together with our need of identifying and reaching out to new stakeholders to assure OpenCitations’ development and sustainability, has made it necessary to publicly define OpenCitations’ mission, unique strengths and next developmental steps.
which together provide a summary of why we exist and where we are heading.
We are particularly proud of the definition of OpenCitations’ primary mission, namely
“to harvest and openly publish accurate and comprehensive metadata describing the world’s academic publications and the scholarly citations that link them, and to preserve ongoing access to this information by secure archiving.”
The Mission Statement also presents brief descriptions of the OpenCitations context, our vision, our value proposition and our relationship with the community and stakeholders.
The Uniqueness of OpenCitations provides the answer to the question ‘Why choose to use OpenCitations?’, and is a detailed presentation of OpenCitations’ benefits.
OpenCitations – Present Status and Future Plans summarizes OpenCitations’ ongoing activities, that can be quickly visualized on our public roadmap. It also introduces the OpenCitations Working Groups, served by the members of the OpenCitations International Advisory Board, which are currently working on the themes of governance evolution and community building, with the common purpose of driving OpenCitations along the path from being a ‘sustainable infrastructure’ (in POSI terms) to being an enduring community led andfinancially sustained infrastructure.
In fulfilling our mission and reaching our goals, the support and vital interest of our community members is fundamental. We request that you, as a member of our community, provide us with feedback on these documents and the ideas they contain, or indeed to ask for clarifications, to help us improving our mission and our communications to explain it. You can reach us here: email@example.com.
Cite this article as: Chiara Di Giambattista, "New documents that present OpenCitations’ mission, unique benefits, present status and future plans," in OpenCitations blog, 10/08/2022, https://opencitations.hypotheses.org/2498.
In March, The Global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Services (SCOSS) celebrated, together with the generous funders and the projects involved (including OpenCitations), the achievement of an amazing milestone: a total of 4 million Euros raised so far for supporting the growth and development of Open Science Infrastructures. This significant sum is not just a number, but a concrete sign of the commitment of numerous institutions all over the world to ensure the success of vital organs of the Open Science ecosystem. Thanks to the pledges recently made, the new infrastructures selected for the third SCOSS pledging round have now started developing their services and can now look to the future with more surety.
At the end of 2019, OpenCitations was selected by SCOSS for its second pledging round, and since then much progress has been made. As the OpenCitations’ founder and director David Shotton recently stated:
“OpenCitations is growing, thanks to the generous support from our members and donors, and we thank SCOSS sincerely for bringing us into contact with them. The citation coverage provided by OpenCitations is now approaching parity with that of the leading commercial citation indexes, and our ambition, within the next five years, is for OpenCitations to be routinely used by our worldwide stakeholders as their primary source of comprehensive scholarly citation information”.
In 2020, OpenCitations monitored the achievements of the first year of SCOSS support and shared the most important updates in a blog post. After a review from SCOSS Advisory Group and the SCOSS Board, the OpenCitations 2021 report to SCOSS is now available in the SCOSS May newsletter. We’re proud of the successful developments that 2021 brought with it in many areas, from the technical enhancements to OpenCitations to its new supporters and partnerships.
After a two-year-long collaboration, we in OpenCitations recognise that one of the most precious benefits of being part of SCOSS is working within a community: SCOSS not only provides a framework but also a real family of supportive institutions that support the Infrastructures during their growth and provide a safety net if troubles occur along the path. The bi-monthly meetings organized by the SCOSS team enable dialogue with the other infrastructures within the same pledging round, while presentation and promotion to the institutions worldwide are fostered by participation in webinars and conferences. During 2021, OpenCitations participated in 16 events, and in 5 of them (LIBER Webinar 2021, JISC Webinar 2021, LIBER Annual Conference 2021, Open Science Fair 2021, and Open Access Tage 2021) OpenCitations’ director Silvio Peroni gave talks together with the representatives of others infrastructures involved in the SCOSS second pledging round.
In compliance with the POSI principles, SCOSS encouraged OpenCitations to set up an open governance structure. As described here, the organizational bodies included in the OpenCitations present governance are three: the Directors, the International Advisory Board, and the Council. Although executive power is still currently vested in the hands of the Directors, in the last two years the OpenCitations International Advisory Board, a committee that now comprises nine Open Science experts from different professional and academic backgrounds, has had a crucial role in guiding the OpenCitations activities, and it is now working on strategic developments in terms of collaborations, policies, support and governance. Moreover, last December OpenCitations organized a Webinar in conjunction with its Annual Meeting to present and discuss with the OpenCitations Council members OpenCitations’ recent developments and future plans.
OpenCitations is highly reliant upon the connections we have created and on people working together: thanks to the support we received throughout the last two years, the OpenCitations team has grown and now includes six people employed by the Research Centre for Open Scholarly Metadata at the University of Bologna, the administrative body for OpenCitations. Besides the previously announced appointments of Claudio Fabbri (Research Manager), Chiara Di Giambattista (Communications Director and Community Development Manager), Giuseppe Grieco (Software and Systems Developer), and Arcangelo Massari (Software Developer, working within the OpenAIRE-Nexus project), early in 2022 Ivan Heibi, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Bologna, joined OpenCitations with responsibility for the technical infrastructure, and Arianna Moretti, who recently graduated in Digital Humanities and Digital Knowledge, joined as a software developer. This enlarged team, involving young and motivated researchers, is working on numerous projects to be announced later in 2022. You can learn more about OpenCitations’ ongoing activities on our public roadmap.
OpenCitations’ aim continues to be the publication of open data describing the bibliographic citations linking global scholarly publications, with depth and scope, while maintaining the highest standards of accuracy and provenance. Most importantly, OpenCitations services will always be free, making global scholarly citation data available at zero cost and without restriction for third party analysis and re-use.
With its support, SCOSS has been helping OpenCitations to pursue its mission and spread the benefits of Open Science. However, 2022 will be the last year of the three-year-long support ensured by SCOSS. OpenCitations activities won’t stop in 2023 — indeed there still are many long-planned activities that we hope to initiate in the near future, given sufficient resources. This is why OpenCitations requires ongoing support from the scholarly community. All the information you may require to start helping us financially is available on the OpenCitations website: https://opencitations.net/membership
By supporting OpenCitations, you will embrace and sustain the ideals and vision of Open Science, and you will help in creating a more open, democratic and fair knowledge environment.
2021 is just behind us. Since January is “the Monday of the months”, as F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, it’s a good time to take stock of what happened at OpenCitations during the past year.
Among the numerous events, achievements and challenges that 2021 brought with it, we want to highlight five milestones which make us proud to look back:
1. We extended our coverage to well over one billion citations
During 2021, OpenCitations’ largest index COCI (the OpenCitations Index of Crossref open DOI-to-DOI citations) was able to include for the first time the citation links involving references that had been opened at Crossref by Elsevier and the American Chemical Society, thereby greatly expanding its coverage. The last release of COCI (November 2021) is based on open references to works with DOIs within the Crossref dump dated October 2021, and, as a result, COCI now contains information on more than 1.23 billion citations involving almost 70 million publications. A recent analysis by Alberto Martìn-Martìn (Facultad de Comunicación y Documentación, Universidad de Granada, Spain), published on the OpenCitations Blog in October, shows that the citation coverage provided by OpenCitations is approaching parity with that of the leading commercial citation indexes, Web of Science and Scopus, offering a viable alternative upon which to base open and reproducible metrics of academic performance.
2. OpenCitations team grew
Last summer, we appointed Claudio Fabbri as our Administrator and Research Manager to take responsibility for the day-to-day administrative and financial activities of OpenCitations; Chiara Di Giambattista as Communications Director and Community Development Manager to take care of all communications and community interactions made on behalf of OpenCitations; and Giuseppe Grieco as our new Software and Systems Developer to take charge of technical development related to the OpenCitations services.
Thanks to the support from the OpenAIRE Nexus project, the team has also recently welcomed Arcangelo Massari as our new Software Developer to take care of the development of the new database OpenCitations Meta. We anticipate further appointments during 2022!
Our International Advisory Board met in November, and we thank its members for the valuable advice they provided. The Board will meet again later this month.
3. We participated in many international meetings
During the past year, OpenCitations’ directors Silvio Peroni and David Shotton took part in numerous international conferences, webinars and workshops, including the LIBER Annual Conference 2021, the OS Fair 2021, OASPA 2021 and FORCE2021. These provided excellent opportunities to describe and promote OpenCitations, to reach out to new potential stakeholders, and to discuss with other experts the main themes of our activities and plans as they relate to Open Science.
In 2021, thanks to our involvement in the SCOSS funding campaign and to our commitment to reaching out to the libraries and universities potentially interested in OpenCitations, we gathereda wide international community of stakeholders and supporters around us. We are deeply thankful to the 6 consortia and 56 institutions across the globe which are now supporting us financially, thus making it possible for us to enhance our services and expand our team. You can find the full list of our supporters on the OpenCitations website and in this recent Thank You video:
Additionally, in January 2021, we started our involvement in the EC-funded OpenAIRE Nexus project, bringing us into closer collaboration with our European colleagues and infrastructures, including OpenAIRE. The main aim of the project is 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”. In OpenCitations, we’re thrilled to be part of this collaborative project by providing open bibliographic citations as part of the open data components of OpenAIRE and the EOSC.
5. We set the stage for future developments
Thanks to the research grants and the support and endorsement we have received from the international scholarly community, we are now working on a variety of new services, thus setting our goals for the coming years. In particular, we want to enhance OpenCitations partnerships and dialogue with the scholarly community; to collaborate with colleagues to develop new services that will expand our citation coverage, including new OpenCitations indexes of NIH-OCC, of DataCite and of other sources of open references, that will all be searchable through a single API; and to create OpenCitations Meta, our new database that will hold comprehensive bibliographic metadata of the publications involved in our indexes citations, thereby enabling faster query responses and the ability to host citations involving publications lacking DOIs.
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 mechanism. The 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.
Cite this article as: Chiara Di Giambattista, "Open Access Tage 2021: valuable insights from the libraries in the German-speaking region ," in OpenCitations blog, 07/10/2021, https://opencitations.hypotheses.org/1394.
Open Science Fair is an initiative of OpenAIRE, co-organized by the following key international initiatives in the area of Open Science: COAR, EIFL, Force11, LA Referencia, LIBER, OPERAS, Sparc and Sparc Europe. A biannual event, it brings together “perspectives from different actors” and “suggests ways in which communities can work together to produce roadmaps for the implementation of Open Science”. The 2021 online event saw the participation of distinguished speakers in keynote talks, roundtable discussions, workshops and training sessions. At OpenCitations, we are grateful and proud to have been invited to participate in this collaborative and inspiring virtual fair.
The Lightning Talk “ScholeXplorer and OpenCitations as the new frontier of open citation indexing” was a presentation by Silvio Peroni, co-authored with Paolo Manghi (OpenAire), Alessia Bardi (CNR-ISTI), and Sandro La Bruzzo (CNR-ISTI), describing two of the 14 open data services included in the MONITOR portfolio of the OpenAIRE-Nexus project that are used to monitor Open Science, research impact and open citations – the domains of interest of the two services presented. ScholeXplorer provides access under a CC-BY license to a huge set of links between datasets and scholarly publications, while OpenCitations, as an open infrastructure for open bibliographic metadata and citations, grants access to more than 1.18 billion DOI-to-DOI citation links, released with a CC0 public domain waiver. Both services also provide tools that allow users to query their data, with the common final goal of providing open links between scholarly resources and making them available within the OpenAire Research Graph.
As Silvio Peroni recalled, last July this article by Ian Hutchins:
This workshop involved Agata Morka and Vanessa Proudman from SCOSS, and representatives of the three Open Science Infrastructures involved in the Second SCOSS Funding Cycle, namely Silvio Peroni (OpenCitations), Niels Stern (DOAB/OAPEN), and James MacGregor (PKP). The starting topic of the Workshop, in which the funder perspective was provided Jean-Francois Lutz (University of Lorraine), was the paradox: although the scholarly community increasingly relies on Open Science Infrastructures, it seems very difficult to get them “to realize that there are some operational and development costs related to their existence”. In this discouraging environment, SCOSS plays a crucial role in promoting such services to potential supporters. The most recent SCOSS annual survey, presented by Jon Treadway (Great North Wood Consulting) during the workshop and involving 217 institutions from across the world, helps us understand the impact and external perception of SCOSS on a global scale. It revealed a correspondence between the geographical areas in which SCOSS is best known and the locations of the major supporters, which perhaps should not surprise us. More importantly, it found that, in addition to interoperability and global significance, community governance was one of the most important aspects of the infrastructures that institutions chose to invest in. In particular, the chance to be directly involved in governance was found to act as a great incentive for university libraries to invest in external infrastructures. Community governance is a core aspect of the Principles for Open Scholarly Infrastructures and, as underlined in this blog post, OpenCitations is working hard to achieve full compliance.
Obstacles to offering support were found to include administrative barriers, although these could be reduced if individual supporters joined consortia. Overall, however, such administration hurdles were minor issues. More significantly, some institutions were unable to pledge funds in the short term, and there was seen to be a need to raise awareness of the necessity of generating cultural change around the issue of community support. As Vanessa Proudman underlined, it is crucial to create dialogue with institutions and libraries, in order to foster the understanding that supporting Open Science Infrastructures could be beneficial for both students and researchers, and a realization that the minimum annual contribution requested by SCOSSfrom any one libraryto support such an infrastructure was less than a single article processing charge (APC), trivial in comparison with the huge annual institutional subscriptions for access to journals and citation indexes.
In a separate SCOSS interview, Marin Dacos (Open Science Advisor to the Director-General for Research and Innovation at the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation) defined Open Science Infrastructures as “a common good of the scholarly community”, distinctly different from the services of commercial publishers. An essential value of an Open Scholarly Infrastructure is its community engagement and, from this perspective, the community funding approach promoted by SCOSS is the most efficient. As Silvio Peroni said, “What after SCOSS? SCOSS helps in creating a community around the service, and this community remains even after the three-year period of SCOSS promotion is over”.
Maybe, by fostering this growing global network of institutions and services committed to promoting a more open research, Open Scholarly Infrastrucutres can find an answer to the question “How can we not be invisible?” and achieve not just ‘sustainable’ but sustained funding from the academic community.
We are happy to announce OpenCitations’ participation in a number of online conferences and events during the next few weeks. Our directors Silvio Peroni and David Shotton will be speaking at the Open Science Fair 2021, the OASPA Conference 2021 and Open Access Tage.
Open Science Fair 2021 (20-23 September) is an event organized by OpenAIRE, in collaboration with some key international initiatives in the area of Open Science: COAR, EIFL, Force11, LA Referencia, LIBER, OPERAS, Sparc, Sparc Europe. Like a real fair, the visitors can explore virtual pavilions, participating in various Keynote Talks, Parallel Sessions and Workshops dedicated to Open Science. Silvio Peroni will give two talks on Tuesday 21:
The Workshop “The perils of being invisible. Collective funding models for Open Science infrastructure” (16:30-18:00 CEST) “will help identify the main challenges of collective funding models for Open Science Infrastructure, as well as explore the path forward to make them more efficient”. Silvio Peroni, Niels Stern (DOAB/OAPEN)James MacGregor (PKP), Agata Morka (SPARC Europe/SCOSS), Jon Treadway (the Great North Wood Consulting), Jean-Francois Lutz (University of Lorraine) and Vanessa Proudman (SPARC Europe) will reflect on the evanescence of Open Science Infrastructure (OSI) in library budget considerations. The speakers will also promote interaction with other workshop participants in order to create a collective dialogue. You can register for the event here: https://www.opensciencefair.eu/2021/workshops/the-perils-of-being-invisible
The OASPA Conference 2021 (21-23 September), entitled “Designing 21st Century Knowledge Sharing Systems”, will be dedicated to “many timely and fundamental topics relating to open scholarly communication”, including “the ongoing impact of the pandemic”. David Shotton will take part in the Poster Lightning Talks Session 3 (Thursday 23, 1-2 pm BST), with the title “OpenCitations – what does the future hold?”, a reflection on OpenCitations’ values, data, services, achievements so far, and plans for the future. For further information and registration: https://oaspa.org/conference/
Silvio Peroni, together with James MacGregor (Public Knowledge Project) and Niels Stern (OAPEN) will hold the Workshop “How Open Infrastructure Benefits Libraries?” (September 27, 11:30-13 CEST) as part of the Open Access Tage 2021 (27-29 September), an annual event dedicated to Open Access initiatives and community. During the workshop, the speakers will investigate the social and economic value of open infrastructures for libraries. For more information and to register for the event: https://oat21.sched.com/event/kdFg/workshop-2-how-open-infrastructure-benefits-libraries
We thank the organizers of these prestigious international events for having invited OpenCitations to participate. The Open Science resounds and grows through such community-centered initiatives.
If you wish to learn more about Open Science, ongoing Open Access initiatives, and OpenCitations’ commitment to and activities within these areas, don’t miss the opportunity to participate in these on-line conferences … see you there!
CDL’s commitment to sustainable open scholarship has great value for the global scholarly community. Through its investments and partnerships, CDL aims to create an international academic and librarian dialogue, trusting in the idea that “the university, its scholars and its libraries thrive when we transcend organizational boundaries and commit ourselves to shared investments”.
CDL’s contribution will generously support OpenCitations throughout 2021-2023. CDL funding in the fiscal year 2020-2021 also includes two other SCOSS-endorsed infrastructures, OAPEN and DOAB, the non-profit organization Open Access Switchboard, and the services PsyArXiv and SCOAP3 Books. As can be read in the recent post by Ellen Finnie, this investment reflects CDL’s “commitment to ’invest in open’ by allocating a portion of our collections funding to the development of open content and infrastructure in support of UC scholarship and teaching”.
OpenCitations team is grateful to be included in CDL’s ongoing investment in open infrastructure. Thank you!
Now that OpenCitations is hosting over one billion freely available scholarly bibliographic citations, this is perhaps an opportune moment to look back to the start of this initiative. A little over eleven years ago, on 24 April 2010, I spoke at the Open Knowledge Foundation Conference, OKCon2010, in London, on the topic
OpenCitations: Publishing Bibliographic Citations as Linked Open Data
I reported that, earlier that same week, I had applied to Jisc for a one-year grant to fund the OpenCitations Project (opencitations.net). Jisc (at that time ‘The JISC’, the Joint Information Systems Committee) was tasked by the UK government, among other things, to support research and development in information technology for the benefit of the academic community.
The purpose of that original OpenCitations R&D project was to develop a prototype in which we:
harvested citations from the open access biomedical literature in PubMed Central;
described and linked them using CiTO, the Citation Typing Ontology ;
encoded and organized them in an RDF triplestore; and
I told those at the conference that in this demonstration project, with limited JISC funding, we could not hope to “boil the whole ocean”, but that nevertheless there would be substantial benefits from even partial coverage of citation data from the scholarly literature:
We could show the way and establish best practice.
Despite partial coverage, all key papers would most likely be cited several times.
The overall topological structure of the citation network would be revealed.
We would create a ‘benchmark’ corpus of high-quality RDF citation data that could be used to develop analytical and visualization tools.
We could show the value of open citation data in helping scholars to discover full text articles of all types, and thus encourage subscription-access publishers to release their reference metadata.
The important thing, I said, was to make a start!
The Jisc OpenCitations Project
That JISC grant application was funded, and the project, to last for a year with modest funding of £100K, started in my lab in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University on 1st June 2010, and was subsequently extended for a further six months.
Using data from the Open Access subset of PubMed Central, we created the first prototype release of the OpenCitations Corpus of linked bibliographic citation data, containing 6,529,815 independent bibliographic records of both citing and cited entities, comprising references to ~20% of all post-1980 articles recorded in PubMed, including those to all the most important highly cited papers in every field of biomedical endeavour.
This achievement was almost entirely the result of the excellent work by our chief data wrangler Alex Dutton, whose skill and natural feel for linked data did wonders for this project. Ben O’Steen, Graham Klyne and Alistair Miles made important contributions.
The project also resulted in many other development, described here, most which were developed or at least initiated during a short but wonderfully productive collaboration with Silvio Peroni, who spent six months with me in 2010 as a doctoral student intern from the University of Bologna, to which he subsequently returned to complete his thesis and develop his academic career.
the deconstruction and re-development of the original version of CiTO into a suite of orthogonal and complementary ontologies covering the whole domain of scholarly publishing – the SPAR (Semantic Publishing and Referencing) Ontologies [2, 3];
the mapping of various existing metadata schemas into RDF using SPAR, including the DataCite Metadata Schema, and subsequently JATS, now the default NISO standard for XML markup of scholarly documents) ; and
After the Jisc funding ended and I, after a long career in biological teaching and research, formally retired from the Department of Zoology at the Oxford University, members of the initial OpenCitations team moved on to other things. Like so many grant-funded academic project whose initial financial support had dried up, OpenCitations could have foundered at that stage, as an interesting prototype but with too little content to be useful. However, the concept of providing an open alternative to proprietary citation indexes was too important to abandon. But how could it be transitioned into something enduring and useful, particularly when as a matter of principle one had decided that the citation data should be made freely available, thus precluding income generation by charging for ‘premium’ services or the formation of a commercial spin-off?
Finally, I realized that something radical needed to be done to move OpenCitations forward. I had maintained a lively collaboration with Silvio Peroni at the University of Bologna, resulting between 2011 and 2014 in the publication of 18 articles and conference papers concerning the SPAR ontologies, ontology development, documentation and visualization, and related topics, and in 2015 I invited him to start working with me directly on OpenCitations. It was the best decision I could have made. We decided to take the initial concept and re-implement it from the bottom up. OpenCitations gave Silvio a major computer science project to which he could apply his considerable talent, and soon resulted in the development of a revised RDF data model for describing citation data, the OpenCitations Data Model (OCDM)  and a suite of new software tools to harvest, organise and publish citations at linked open data . The credit for almost all the subsequent conceptual and technical developments within OpenCitations, which have incrementally led to our present situation, is due to Silvio Peroni, and the scholarly community is indebted to him for the intelligence, skill and diligent application he has given to OpenCitations over the past six years. I am truly honoured to have Silvio as co-Director of OpenCitations, and wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge his contributions and to thank him publicly.
Our work on OpenCitations at that stage, summarized in , would not have been possible without the enthusiastic support of Silvio’s senior colleague Fabio Vitali and of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Bologna, which not only provided a stimulating environment for Silvio’s post-doctoral work, but also supplied computing services and infrastructure at no charge to OpenCitations. It was also greatly helped by Professor David De Roure of Oxford University, who gave me an academic home and a formal affiliation within the Oxford e-Research Centre after my retirement from the Department of Zoology, which enabled me to continue to hold research grants.
A significant breakthrough came in January 2018 with our decision to treat citations as first-class data entities, each with its own persistent identifier (PID), the Open Citations Identifier (OCI) . This gave Silvio the freedom to envision a new kind of database, a citation index in which each citation had its own metadata, including citation timespan, citation categorization (e.g. self-citation), and of course the DOIs of the citing and cited publications. The creation of this new index was possible only with the incredible effort by Ivan Heibi, who served as a Research Fellow in the project funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation at that time, and who was entirely responsible for developing the first version of the code necessary for creating such a database. Having harvested all the open references from Crossref metadata dumps, Silvio and Ivan created COCI, the OpenCitations Index of Crossref DOI-to-DOI Citations, which immediately became our principal source of open citations, the original OpenCitations Corpus being retained as a ‘sandbox’ in which to experiment with new data representations, for example those required for the Open Biomedical Citations in Context Corpus. Access to COCI was facilitated by Silvio’s development of a REST API, using his software tool RAMOSE (Restful API Manager Over SPARQL Endpoints), which enables the easily configurable deployment of a REST API over any SPARQL endpoint to an RDF triplestore . We were able to organize our all data, both ‘traditional’ and new, and to encode it in RDF, thanks to the comprehensive OpenCitations Data Model , itself based on our SPAR Ontologies , which we evolved as necessary to accommodate new data representation requirements.
During this period we published a number of definitions, conference papers and journal articles documenting these advances, details of which can be found here. Of these, the most recent canonical publication describing OpenCitations as an infrastructure for open scholarship, and its datasets, tools, services and activities, is Peroni and Shotton (2020) . We also established the Research Centre for Open Scholarly Metadata at the University of Bologna, primarily to handle administrative, financial and academic aspects of OpenCitations activities.
The problem remained: how to sustain the OpenCitations infrastructure financially. We were greatly helped by Bilder, Lin and Neylon’s formulation of the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructures (POSI) , in which they clearly pointing out that reliance solely on grant funding for specific projects was not the answer. OpenCitations compliance with POSI is described here. We were thus immensely grateful that SPARC Europe and other institutions had the wisdom to establish SCOSS (The Global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Services) to facilitate the crowd-sourced financial support of useful open infrastructures by the scholarly community, including academic libraries, government agencies and other stakeholders. OpenCitations applied for SCOSS support in 2019, which led to the selection of OpenCitations for support in the SCOSS second round.
The donations we are now starting to receive from such stakeholders, and the new staff that this funding has recently allowed us to hire, signal the start of our transition from a financially vulnerable academic project to a sustainable open scholarly infrastructure of real value to the community.
The work of opening more of the global citation graph now requires two things:
that each publisher takes responsibility for ensuring that the references from all of its journal articles and books are submitted, together with all other bibliographic metadata, to open scholarly bibliographic metadata aggregators such as Crossref and DataCite, from which they can be indexed into open citation indexes of sufficient quality, depth of detail and breadth of coverage that these offer genuine alternatives to the expensive proprietary citation indexing services upon which the academic community presently relies; and
that the entire scholarly stakeholder community re-directs a fraction of the enormous sums currently spent on its subscriptions to proprietary bibliographic services in order to support Open Science infrastructures such as OpenCitations that making citations and other forms of scholarly metadata and objects freely available.
 Peroni S, Lapeyre DA and Shotton D (2012) From Markup to Linked Data: Mapping NISO JATS v1.0 to RDF using the SPAR (Semantic Publishing and Referencing) Ontologies. Proc. 2012 JATS Conference, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland, USA (October 2012): 16-17. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK100491/
 Silvio Peroni, David Shotton, Fabio Vitali (2017). One Year of the OpenCitations Corpus: Releasing RDF-based scholarly citation data into the Public Domain. In The Semantic Web – ISWC 2017 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science Vol. 10588, pp. 184–192). Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-68204-4_19
We want to express our gratitude to the 18 institutional members and customers of the Consortium of Swiss Academic Libraries which have now pledged 89,250 euros to support OpenCitations over the next three years. This generous donation is part of a total funding of 320,250 euros destined for the three services currently being promoted by SCOSS: DOAB and OAPEN,PKP, and OpenCitations.
The Consortium of Swiss Academic Libraries involves all cantonal universities, the ETH Domain, the Swiss National Library and other institutions from the fields of education and research as well as from the public sector, with the core task of licensing of e-resources (electronic journals, databases, eBooks) for its members and customers.
As can be read in this post, Susanne Aerni, Head of Consortial Services commented on the pledge: “This pledge exemplifies the broad Swiss commitment to vital infrastructure for Open Access and Open Science. All Swiss Universities, all institutions of the ETH-domain, some Universities of Applied Science, CERN, and the Swiss National Science Foundation support these three vital services through the Consortium of Swiss Academic Libraries.”
Thank you, Switzerland, for your support to OpenCitations!
Here’s some information about their backgrounds, positions and roles at OpenCitations.
Claudio Fabbri (Administrator and Research Manager):
Claudio has taken responsibility for all the day-to-day administrative activities of OpenCitations, including financial arrangements with those organisations supporting OpenCitations and bureaucratic interactions involving our host institution, the University of Bologna.
“After graduating in philosophy, I worked for several years as a librarian in university libraries. Considering my professional background, it came naturally to me to get in touch first with the Open Access movement and then, in a broader view, with Open Science principles. Now, as the Research Manager for OpenCitations, I’m proud to lead the administrative work for this great infrastructure. I’m interested in the history of science, especially how scientific communication has changed over the years”.
Chiara Di Giambattista (Communications Director and Community Development Manager):
Chiara takes care of all communications and social interactions made on behalf of OpenCitations, in terms of outreach to the scholarly community, contacts with present and potential supporting organisations, and OpenCitations’ communications via social media. She is developing a comprehensive mission statement and communications strategy for OpenCitations, designed to enhance the community’s understanding of OpenCitations’ global mission and awareness of its financial needs, to increase usage of OpenCitations services, and to foster collaborative interactions with like-minded infrastructures and institutions.
“I graduated in Visual Arts at the University of Bologna with the thesis “Presenting the future in the Digital Age. The semiotic convergence between art and IxD design in the practice of Future Casting”. Being deeply passionate about the adaptive potential of language in all its forms, from classical linguistics to visual semiotics, I have various experiences in web journalism and publishing. My role in OpenCitations is to improve the engagement of OpenCitations with the scholarly community, to develop OpenCitations’ social media platforms (LinkedIn and Twitter) and the OpenCitations blog, and to communicate and promote the values, services and impact of OpenCitations throughout the world”.
Giuseppe Grieco (Software and Systems Developer):
As a skilled computer scientist, Giuseppe will take charge of all the technical development related to the OpenCitations services, data acquisition, and bibliographic metadata and citations provision.
“I have a degree in computer science. I have been passionate about this field since I was thirteen years old, when I started to learn the basics of algorithms and programming. Most recently, I have been dedicating myself to artificial intelligence by pursuing Masters studies at the University of Pisa. I have always tried to take every opportunityto put into practice what I’ve been studying . Now, with my appointment at OpenCitations, I will do so by developing upgrades and enhancements to the existing software infrastructure”.
More new people will be getting involved in OpenCitations in the autumn. Watch this space!