Looking back to look ahead: OpenCitations’ achievements in 2023

The first month of the new year has almost come to an end, and we at OpenCitations have dedicated these weeks after the holiday season to retrace the progress we reached as an open infrastructure throughout 2023, an activity that has become a tradition in the past few years. Looking back to the achievements has proven to be a great practice for our team not only to honour and celebrate the success, but also to visualize the points to focus on to best serve our community when planning future activities. During 2023 we have reached numerous milestones, which can be summarized under the two main topics: technical developments and new connections. 

Technical Developments

1. New sources

At the end of 2022, we had enriched our collection with two more sources, PubMed and DataCite, which were added to Crossref. During 2023 we completed the integration between OpenCitations and the OpenAIRE Graph as concerns open bibliographic and citation data, and in December we included the DOI-to-DOI citation links derived from the Japan Link Center (JaLC). As a result, by the end of 2023, OpenCitations counted almost 2 BILLION open citations available in its collection.

2. A brand-new workflow for an easier consultation

The progressive integration of new sources is one of OpenCitations’ main objectives. However, the recent source increase made it necessary to design a new ingestion workflow to facilitate their management. In November 2023 OpenCitations launched the new workflow, designed to produce just two comprehensive collections: OpenCitations Index, collecting open citation data, and OpenCitations Meta, containing open bibliographic metadata of citing and cited entities involved in citations. This evolution is making it simpler for OpenCitations users to consult the data maintained by our infrastructure without reducing the information content and accuracy.  

New connections 

3. A great event for the community

In October 2023, OpenCitations hosted the Workshop on Open Citations and Open Scholarly Metadata 2023 (WOOC 2023) in the historical location of the University of Bologna. After two online editions, it was exciting to meet in person the researchers, policy makers and service providers who in the past few years have collaborated with OpenCitations in many ways. For two days, almost 80 people from all around the world gathered to discuss the theme “The value of open scholarly metadata for Research Assessment purposes”. The event gave us a picture of a young and enthusiastic research community, aiming to collaborate among different countries to spread the message “Open Science is Better Science”. If you couldn’t attend the workshop, but are interested in the theme, you can find all the presentations from WOOC 2023 on Zenodo. Stay tuned on the WOOC X account and website, we will announce the 2025 edition later in 2024! 

4. New and old partnerships

OpenCitations’ main activities, besides the technical development, are tied to its participation in R&D and funded projects. Since 2019, we have started building a network of collaborations all around the world with institutions which share the same Open Science values. In 2023, our involvement in the SCOSS 2nd funding cycle has come to an end. In the last four years SCOSS has worked as an international showcase for OpenCitations, making it possible for us to get known by many institutions on an international level. We are now proud to keep on collaborating with SCOSS within the SCOSS Family network, a community of practice gathering all the OS infrastructure involved in the SCOSS funding cycles. During 2023, the SCOSS Family was involved in four internal sprints dedicated to planning four actions – collectively advocating the importance of open  infrastructure, communications kit for ‘the post-SCOSS phase’, collective self-assessment towards POSI, and map open science infrastructure ecosystem including SCOSS infrastructures – and the initial outcomes were presented in the Scoss Family Public Webinar 2023. The SCOSS family will continue its activities throughout 2024.

In 2023, we also celebrated the update of the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure (POSI), as a result of the work conducted since 2022 with the “POSI-Adopters” group to make the principles clearer and more inclusive. In June, the OpenAIRE-Nexus project, started back in 2021, formally came to an end, with the release of the index of citations from OpenAIRE. OpenCitations is part of the OpenAIRE Catalogue, which also links to the exhaustive and engaging materials we produced within the project. However, we continue to meet the familiar and friendly faces from the OpenAIRE team in the meetings of GraspOS, a project which started in January 2023 involving several European Open Science institutions, services and infrastructures. In GraspOS, OpenCitations is involved as one of the Data Asset Sources, which provides both the raw and the structured data that can be used to directly support OS-aware RRA processes or to calculate indicators or collect evidence that can be of value in these processes. The researchers from OpenCitations and the University of Bologna are contributing to GraspOS by developing a tool for the extraction of citation data from PDFs, enriched with additional information on the reasons for citing (because the citing entity reuses a method described in the cited entity, for agreeing with the claims of the cited entity, etc.) through the implementation of machine-learning systems. Also, together with GraspOS, OpenAIRE, and many other Coalition members, the OpenCitations personnel at the University of Bologna is among the participants of the CoARA Working Group Towards Open Infrastructures for Responsible Research Assessment (OI4RRA), to work on enabling the research community to be in full control of the data and indicators it relies on in assessments. OpenCitations is always seeking interest from new institutions, and we are proud that our visibility is boasted by some reliable catalogues including the OpenAIRE catalogue, the EOSC Marketplace and, from 2023, also the JISC Catalogue. And soon you’ll find us in a new tool – stay tuned to find out!

5. Our way towards sustainability 

OpenCitations is increasingly gaining a prominent role in the community, establishing itself as a key player in changing research evaluation practices towards greater openness and equity. In recent years, OpenCitations has grown a lot both technically and in popularity, and for this we want to thank the number of members and donors who, even in the last year, have decided to support us and believe in our infrastructure. During 2023, our two Internal Working Groups “Governance Evolution” and “Community Building”, thanks to the participation of some members of the International Advisory Board for OpenCitations, reflected on the sustainability of OpenCitations, discussing strategies both at the management and communication level to ensure the integration of new actors into its subsistence. The groups will continue to meet throughout 2024, and some of the results will be released in the coming months. However, there is still a long way to go towards sustainability, and OpenCitations’ existence still relies on community funding, which is why OpenCitations still needs support: if you are looking for more information on why and how to support OpenCitations, you can read our recent call for action here. Thank you! 

6. Enlarging our team 

It is thanks to the support received that OpenCitations was able to develop its yearly activities, and we are happy to announce that in 2023 a new software developer, Elia Rizzetto, and a new PhD student, Francesca Cappelli, have joined our team to make this progress possible. The OpenCitations team now has a total of 12 members, including research fellows, PhD students, MA students, a Reseach Manager, an Assistant Professor and OpenCitations’ Directors. The number is expected to grow soon, as OpenCitations has recently released a call for the hiring of a System Administrator for technical infrastructure management.  

As can be seen from this brief (and detailed) report of some of the developments that have marked our 2023, OpenCitations is increasingly emerging as a community-based and community-guided infrastructure organization, in which there is an indissoluble link between technical progress and the network of people who guide the planning, work on implementation, and use or promote our services. Throughout 2024, OpenCitations aims to focus even more on harmonizing the relationship between the technical infrastructure and the community, developing more intuitive ways of accessing services and communications, and continuing to weave relationships with new research groups. We look forward to seeing what the year ahead will bring with it, and we hope you will continue to be with us.  

Two years of achievements within the ‘SCOSS family’ (and it’s not over yet!) 

Posted on August 10th 2022 by Chiara Di Giambattista

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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.   

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