Quality metadata is foundational to the research nexus and all Crossref services. When inaccuracies creep in, these create problems that get compounded down the line. No wonder that reports of metadata errors from authors, members, and other metadata users are some of the most common messages we receive into the technical support team (we encourage you to continue to report these metadata errors).
We make members’ metadata openly available via our APIs, which means people and machines can incorporate it into their research tools and services - thus, we all want it to be accurate.
The other day I was out and about and got into a conversation with someone who asked me about my doctoral work in English literature. I’ve had the same conversation many times: I tell someone (only if they ask!) that my dissertation was a history of the villanelle, and then they cheerfully admit that they don’t know what a villanelle is, and then I ask them if they’re familiar with Dylan Thomas’s poem “Do not go gentle into that good night.
Having joined the Crossref team merely a week previously, the mid-year community update on June 14th was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the Research Nexus vision. We explored its building blocks and practical implementation steps within our reach, and within our imagination of the future.
Read on (or watch the recording) for a whistlestop tour of everything – from what on Earth is Research Nexus, through to how it’s taking shape at Crossref, to how you are involved, and finally – to what concerns the community surrounding the vision and how we’re going to address that.
TL;DR A year ago, we announced that we were putting the “R” back in R&D. That was when Rachael Lammey joined the R&D team as the Head of Strategic Initiatives.
And now, with Rachael assuming the role of Product Director, I’m delighted to announce that Dominika Tkaczyk has agreed to take over Rachael’s role as the Head of Strategic Initiatives. Of course, you might already know her.
We will also immediately start recruiting for a new Principal R&D Developer to work with Esha and Dominika on the R&D team.
The ‘research nexus’ is the vision to which we aspire:
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.
The research nexus goes beyond the basic idea of just having persistent identifiers for content. Objects and entities such as journal articles, book chapters, grants, preprints, data, software, statements, dissertations, protocols, affiliations, contributors, etc. should all be identified and that is still an important part of the picture. But what is most important is how they relate to each other and the context in which they make up the whole research ecosystem.
The foundation of the research nexus is metadata; the richer and more comprehensive the metadata in Crossref records, the more value there is for our members and for others, including for future generations.
Metadata and relationships between research objects and entities can support the whole scholarly research ecosystem in many ways, including:
Research integrity: helping to provide signals about the trustworthiness of the work including provenance information such as who funded it (when and for how much), which organizations and people contributed what, whether something was updated or corrected, and whether it was checked for originality. All of these signals can be expressed through Crossref metadata.
Reproducibility: helping others to reproduce outcomes by adding relationships between literature, data, software, protocols and methods, and more. All of these relationships can be asserted through members’ ongoing stewardship of their Crossref metadata records.
Reporting and assessment: helping organizations such as universities, funders, governments, to track and demonstrate the outcomes of investment; provide benchmarking information; show compliance with funder mandates; and decide what other research to fund. This kind of information can be included in Crossref metadata.
Discoverability: helping people and systems identify work through multiple angles. Registering content with Crossref makes it possible for work to be found and used. Thousands of systems use Crossref metadata, therefore the richer the records are, the more visibility there is likely to be of your work. Including metadata like abstracts and references are very simple ways to increase the visibility of your records.
The importance of relationships
A big part of the research nexus is establishing connections between and among different research objects which establishes provenance over time. Adding relationships to your metadata records can convey much richer and more nuanced connections beyond traditional references.
These relationships may consist of versions, corrections, translations, data, formats, supplements, and components. There are no extra fees for including relationships in your metadata.
What types of records can be registered with Crossref?
We are working to make our input schema more flexible so that almost any type of object can be registered and distributed openly through Crossref. At the moment, members tend to register the following: