The Open Citation Project - Reference Linking for Open Archives

About the project | Edited extracts from the project proposal | Full proposal

Project partnerships: making connections, building links

It is easy to say what would be the ideal online resource for scholars and scientists: all papers in all fields, systematically interconnected, effortlessly accessible and rationally navigable from any researcher's desk worldwide

The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Eprint Archive already contains over half the current physics journal literature and is growing at the rate of 25,000 papers annually, with over 35,000 users daily, and 15 mirror sites around the world. LANL also contains the Computing Research Repository (CoRR), which can be accessed directly through LANL or through the more generalized and integrated interface of the Networked Computer Science Technical Reference Library (NCSTRL). LANL (Paul Ginsparg) and CoRR/NCSTRL (Carl Lagoze, Joe Halpern) are partners in this project, in association with the Association of Computer Machinery (William Arms).

One especially important feature of full texts -- their reference list -- is arguably the most natural and powerful way of interconnecting and navigating this literature. The "links" are already provided by the authors themselves, and users already have a long, skilled tradition of navigating with them "offline" (looking up the references in paper).

In the recently completed, JISC-funded Open Journal and CogPrints Projects, the UK partners (Wendy Hall, Stevan Harnad, Les Carr) have successfully used citation linking to interconnect a small but interdisciplinary "seed" database of full texts in the Cognitive Sciences with a much larger 10-year set of abstracts and their reference lists from a subset of the Institute for Scientific Information journal citation database in the cognitive sciences (psychology, neurobiology, computer science, linguistics, philosophy). This work has already gone some way toward solving the problem of automatically recognizing and linking (within and between texts) the finite but noisy set of existing citation formats. The reaction of users was exhilaration with citation-based navigation, but frustration at accessing only abstracts. The obvious conclusion to be drawn was that the real power of citation linking can only be realized with full-text linking. That is what the LANL Archive makes possible.

The project is a very timely and natural one. This is the moment to consolidate and universalize the unique LANL archive by utilizing its own unexploited richness to enhance both its useability and usefulness through citation linking and navigation and to extend its remarkable success, beginning with computer science, backed internationally by the ACM and BCS, through the multidisciplinary cognitive sciences, to the rest of the scientific and scholarly spectrum.

Both the resources and the expertise of the team assembled for this project are arguably the best in the world for this undertaking: The uniqueness of the LANL archive and the contributions of its creator, Paul Ginsparg, are beyond dispute. NCSTRL/CoRR and the Cornell group are the leaders in universalized gatewaying and interoperability of online resources and the Open-Journal/CogPrints team at Southampton are the leaders in journal and archive integration and linking. The huge, international usership of LANL, extended still further by the NCSTRL universal gateway, guarantees that the proposed enhancements will not only be widely tested, but that, if successful, they will strongly influence the evolution of online archiving of the learned literature as a whole. There is no question that radical changes in scholarly/scientific publishing and communication practices are poised to take place. This project will help to guide and hasten them in the right direction.

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