This blog post is from Lettie Conrad and Michelle Urberg, cross-posted from the The Scholarly Kitchen.
As sponsors of this project, we at Crossref are excited to see this work shared out.
The scholarly publishing community talks a LOT about metadata and the need for high-quality, interoperable, and machine-readable descriptors of the content we disseminate. However, as we’ve reflected on previously in the Kitchen, despite well-established information standards (e.g., persistent identifiers), our industry lacks a shared framework to measure the value and impact of the metadata we produce.
When Crossref began over 20 years ago, our members were primarily from the United States and Western Europe, but for several years our membership has been more global and diverse, growing to almost 18,000 organizations around the world, representing 148 countries.
As we continue to grow, finding ways to help organizations participate in Crossref is an important part of our mission and approach. Our goal of creating the Research Nexus—a rich and reusable open network of relationships connecting research organizations, people, things, and actions; a scholarly record that the global community can build on forever, for the benefit of society—can only be achieved by ensuring that participation in Crossref is accessible to all.
In August 2022, the United States Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a memo (PDF) on ensuring free, immediate, and equitable access to federally funded research (a.k.a. the “Nelson memo”). Crossref is particularly interested in and relevant for the areas of this guidance that cover metadata and persistent identifiers—and the infrastructure and services that make them useful.
Funding bodies worldwide are increasingly involved in research infrastructure for dissemination and discovery.
Preprints have become an important tool for rapidly communicating and iterating on research outputs. There is now a range of preprint servers, some subject-specific, some based on a particular geographical area, and others linked to publishers or individual journals in addition to generalist platforms. In 2016 the Crossref schema started to support preprints and since then the number of metadata records has grown to around 16,000 new preprint DOIs per month.
Many researchers want to carry out analysis and extraction of information from large sets of data, such as journal articles and other scholarly content. Methods such as screen-scraping are error-prone, place too much strain on content sites and may be unrepeatable or break if site layouts change. Providing researchers with automated access to the full-text content via DOIs and Crossref metadata reduces these problems, allowing for easy deduplication and reproducibility. Supporting text and data mining echoes our mission to make research outputs easy to find, cite, link, assess, and reuse.
In 2013 Crossref embarked on a project to better support Crossref members and researchers with Text and Data Mining requests and access. There were two main parts to the project:
To collect and make available full-text links and publisher TDM license links in the metadata.
To provide a service (TDM click-through service) for Crossref members to post their additional TDM terms and conditions and for researchers to access, review and accept these terms.
To date, 37.5 million works registered with Crossref have both full-text links and TDM license information. We continue to encourage all members to include full-text links and license information in the metadata they register to assist researchers with TDM. You can see how each member is doing via its Participation Report (e.g. Wiley’s).
Members are also making subscription content available for text mining (temporarily or otherwise) for specific purposes, such as to help the research community with its response to COVID-19. Back in April we highlighted how this can be achieved by including:
A “free to read” element in the access indicators section of publisher metadata indicating that the content is being made available free-of-charge (gratis)
An assertion element indicating that the content being made available is available free-of-charge.
To access Crossref’s click-through tool for text and data mining, users could log in via their ORCID iD. They could then review TDM license agreements posted by Crossref members and accept, reject or postpone their decisions until later. Having agreed to a publisher’s terms and conditions this action was logged against the user’s API token which they could use when requesting full-text from the publisher.
Since the pilot in 2014, only 2 publishers have continued with the tool and fewer than 300 API tokens have been issued.
Publishers have since developed their own mechanisms for managing TDM requests. The introduction of UK (2014) / EU (2019) copyright exceptions for TDM has significantly reduced the number of requests and at the same time, more and more content is published under an open access license.
Given the low take-up of the click-through by both publishers and researchers, its goals are no longer being met. Therefore we will retire the TDM click-through in December 2020. Until that date, it will still operate for the two publishers and various researchers who use it while they finish implementing their alternative plans.
Crossref will continue to collect member-supplied TDM licensing information in metadata for individual works, and researchers can continue to find this via the Crossref APIs.