Talks and events

April 2, 2018

Open Citations Month

The Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) was publicly launched almost one year ago. To mark the progress that’s been made and to build new momentum, we are designating April 2018 Open Citations Month (hashtag #OpenCitationsMonth). We invite everyone with an interest in open scholarship to get involved so that we can get closer to the goal of 100% open citation data. Skip to the end of this announcement to find out what you can do.

Citations describe how one piece of published research builds on, or relates to, another. They are the links that tie scholarship together in a vast network of connections - a rich mine of information that can be used to explore the origins and evolution of ideas and spark new discoveries. But until I4OC started work, the vast majority of these data were not readily accessible.

The lightbulb moment happened after a talk from Dario Taraborelli at the COASP conference in 2016. From there a small group founded I4OC as a voluntary effort to work with publishers to coordinate the public release of citation data. When I4OC was announced a few months later, we were able to report that the proportion of references submitted to Crossref that were now available in the public domain had shifted from 1% to 40%. In the main, this was thanks to the swift action of a small number of large academic publishers.

One year on, the fraction of open citation data has now surpassed 50% and the number of participating publishers has risen to 490. There are over 500 million references now openly available. Of the top-20 biggest publishers with citation data, all but 5 now make these data open via Crossref. And there are almost 50 stakeholder organisations who have joined I4OC to help advocate and promote reuse of open citations. The initiative has attracted commentary and media coverage across the world.

Just as important as the release of the open references through the Crossref platform has been the rapid build-up of examples where these data are being reused. Here is a selection:

  • Striking visualisations of open citation data have been produced by Nees Jan van Eck and Ludo Waltman at Leiden University.
  • The recent launch of Dimensions from Digital Science illustrates how I4OC open references are being incorporated into commercial products that add value to the open data.
  • EuropePMC has incorporated open citation data, so that free full-text research articles can be placed in the context of a network of over 300 million citations.
  • Scholia – an open source tool to explore Wikidata's scholarly data, e.g. via rich author profiles – is using open citation data to create interactive citation graphs and other visualizations of relationships between scholarly publications and their authors or topics.
  • ScienceOpen – another commercial service offering a network of scholarly information – is now enhanced with open citation data.
  • The OpenCitations Corpus – an open repository of scholarly citation data encoded in RDF as Linked Open Data – makes regular use of the Crossref API to obtain metadata about citations.

This progress has been rapid and has been exciting to witness, but there is still a lot to do. First and foremost, we need to get closer to 100% open citation data. We have learned over the past year that the decision to make references open takes varying amounts of time for different publishers, and we have been in contact with many publishers who are yet to make the positive decision. We hope that the mounting evidence of access and reuse of citation data will soon convince them to make that decision and make public the reference lists from their published articles – essential metadata for open scholarship. In the so-called 'post-truth' era, the need for this rigorous and precious information could hardly be greater.

Here is a short list of actions that you can take. Please make a special effort this April:

  • Publishers who aren't making their references public yet - send an email to Crossref before the end of the month requesting them to make your references open. It's that simple!
  • Publishers who don't yet deposit references with Crossref - contact Crossref to find out how to do this.
  • Editors and editorial board members who work for journals where the references are not yet made public - contact your publisher and request this. Use this list to see whether your publisher is already making references open.
  • Funders, institutions, companies, researchers, and all other users of open citation data - write a short piece about your work and the benefits of open citation data for the I4OC website. Please contact [email protected].
August 8, 2017

An Open Letter to Stakeholders of the Initiative for Open Citations

Dear I4OC Stakeholders,

It’s now four months since we publicly announced the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC). Since the beginning of this effort, almost half of indexed scholarly citation data have become freely accessible. We've also had some amazing initial press coverage and we continue to add new publishers and stakeholders.

Data unlocked by I4OC is already being used by a growing number of projects and platforms. OpenCitations imports citation data into a corpus which now includes more than 9 million citation links, a nearly 200% increase since the beginning of the year. Collaborative databases, such as Wikidata, are already using this data to connect and structure knowledge and to generate citation graphs. These examples provide just an early indication of the potential of open citation data and we would be delighted to hear about other efforts.

I4OC’s progress so far has been achieved thanks to helpful conversations with many of the larger publishers, and the majority have already decided to make their references freely available. But there are literally hundreds more publishers who are not currently making their reference data available even though this data is deposited with Crossref. We suspect this is largely because these organisations don’t realise that citation data is closed by default.

We therefore need your help to engage that long tail of organisations that the small group who established I4OC can’t contact ourselves. This means any publisher or learned society that is currently not listed as participating in I4OC. We feel that these discussions will be much more constructive and persuasive on a person-to-person level and in this way you can help us get closer to 100% open availability of citation data.

To help with your discussions, here are the some of the key points that we’ve used in communications with publishers:

  1. It’s really easy to make citation data public. Hundreds of publishers are already depositing this data to Crossref, but the data is closed by default. All that needs to be done to make the data public is to send a note to [email protected]. Crossref will implement the change in a day or two. Job done.
  2. Making the data more open is in the publisher's interests. With a more open dataset, there are a wealth of benefits that arise, including the establishment of a global public web of linked scholarly citation data to enhance the discoverability and use of their published content, both subscription access and open access.
  3. We already know that services such as the Web of Science and Scopus use publisher citation data to provide valuable ways to discover content and the links between content. Fully open citation data will allow the creation of new services that link to the publisher, for the benefit of publishers, researchers, funding agencies, academic institutions and the general public. Open data will also be valuable for existing services.
  4. More generally, given the fundamental importance of citation data, questions relating to the evolution of knowledge, ideas and scholarly disciplines will be open to exploration by a much broader community of interested stakeholders.

If you find any other approaches useful, please share them with us, as well as any questions or concerns raised by publishers. As new publishers release their reference data, they will be added to the list of participating publishers, so please keep an eye on the list too!

Thank you for your help, and your support.

The I4OC Team

Jonathan Dugan
Martin Fenner
Jan Gerlach
Catriona MacCallum
Daniel Mietchen
Cameron Neylon
Mark Patterson
Silvio Peroni
David Shotton
Dario Taraborelli

July 11, 2017

Availability of open reference data nears 50% as major societies and influential publishers endorse the Initiative for Open Citations

(San Francisco, California) July 11, 2017 - In the days immediately following the launch of the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) in April this year, some major names in scholarly publishing made the decision to release their reference data into the public domain. Three months on, a further 16 publishers have added their names to the list and the percentage of articles with open reference data has moved from 40% to over 45%. That’s more than 16 million articles with open references.

Among the 20 publishers who contribute the largest amount of citation data, those who are making their citation data freely available, now include: AIP Publishing, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Physical Society, De Gruyter, Emerald, and SciELO. They join Wiley, SAGE, Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis and many others who made their reference data available prior to, or as part of, the launch of I4OC. Out of the 20 largest contributors, 13 publishers have now moved their reference data into the public domain, and discussions are ongoing with several other publishers.

Outside of the top largest contributors, many more scientific publishing organisations are also supporting I4OC, notably the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) – publishers of Science magazine and others, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), and three further society publishers: the American Society for Cell Biology, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Electrochemical Society. They follow the lead already shown, for example, by the American Geophysical Union, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the Royal Society. Other publishers who have moved to release reference data since the launch of I4OC are AOSIS, InTechOpen, IOS Press, MDPI and World Scientific Publishing.

We are also thrilled to announce that more organizations are joining our list of stakeholders endorsing the initiative, including the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, the Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER), the Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University (CWTS), CORE, Jisc, the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), and ScienceOpen.

With over 40 publishers now leading the way, we call on all 900+ remaining publishers, particularly the smaller publishers who deposit reference data at Crossref, to join this initiative and make their reference data open.

Making the data publicly available is simple. To release your reference data, please send a request to [email protected].

We’ll report back in three months with an update on how many additional publishers have switched their reference data to open.