Helen Eassom
Helen Eassom
Author Marketing, Wiley

Six organizations recently announced the establishment of the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC), a new collaboration between publishers, researchers and other interested parties. Wiley is delighted to be one of the publishers involved with this exciting new project by opening our citation metadata via Crossref. To mark the launch of I4OC, we spoke to Dario Taraborelli of Wikimedia to tell us more about the initiative:


Dario Taraborelli.JPGQ.Could you tell us what the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) is?

A. The Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) is an initiative to promote the unconstrained availability of scholarly citation data.

Q. What are the aims of the I4OC?

A. A number of curated citation databases have been available to universities and funding bodies via subscriptions for years. However, these databases don't allow any kind of reuse or reproducible data analysis due to the restrictive nature of their licenses. There are also prominent citation databases with more permissive licenses, such as the Microsoft Academic Graph, or the recently announced Springer Nature SciGraph, but they also limit reuse through noncommercial licenses.


The Initiative for Open Citations was designed to promote the availability of citation data with no copyright or usage restriction whatsoever. To achieve this goal, we are asking scholarly publishers depositing reference data to Crossref to make this data openly available in the public domain. Before I4OC, only 1% of publications with reference metadata deposited in Crossref made this data openly available. As of the launch of the initiative, this number is 40% and growing.


Q. What do you see as being the key benefits for authors and researchers of a fully open citation dataset?

A. The availability of this data benefits authors, researchers, funding and evaluation bodies, publishers, and the general public alike.

  • Authors will have consistent, machine-readable access to references for all their publications;
  • Researchers will be able to use this resource to study the dissemination of methods and scientific ideas, the genesis and provenance of scholarly knowledge;
  • Funders will be able to rely on a public resource to develop transparent and reproducible evaluation metrics, and new tools to assess the academic and societal impact of research they fund;
  • Publishers will benefit from the increased discoverability of publications that this data provides, and tools built on it.
  • The public will be able to use this data to trace knowledge back to its sources or reuse it in open knowledge repositories such as Wikipedia and Wikidata.

Q. What are the next steps for the Initiative?

A. The most important, immediate goal is to reach 100% coverage of open citation data. We had a successful start reaching 40% coverage in just six months, with large publishers such as Wiley, Taylor & Francis, Springer Nature, and many more opting into the release of citation data in the open. We encourage other publishers to join the list of 29 publishers who have already enabled open reference data distribution.


Coverage aside, curation is the second challenge. The goal of the initiative is to make raw reference metadata openly available. Building a comprehensive graph for scholarly knowledge – linking up scientific statements to their sources, their authors, institutions and funding bodies, and addressing problems such as author disambiguation and entity resolution – will require substantial time and effort. Our hope is that by making citation data available as a public resource, a growing number of platforms will be able to contribute to the creation of a repository of knowledge that everyone can use, not just universities and institutions with access to subscription-based services.


To find out more about the Initiative for Open Citations, please visit the website here, or follow @I4OC_ORG on Twitter.


Image Credit: Dario Taraborelli