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Open bibliographic references and the role of OpenCitations

24 January 2024

Bibliographic references are crucial in scientific literature, ensuring reproducibility, serving as a source of in-depth information, and assessing the impact of scientific work. However, if these data are closed, these processes may be compromised.

Established in 2010, OpenCitations is a community-guided infrastructure that provides open access to bibliographic and citation data, positioning itself as an alternative to commercial services. 

Research evaluation and transparency 

Scientific literature relies on bibliographic references (i.e. the detailed list of sources that are used and cited in a scientific article); they are essential for the validity and integrity of research and play a crucial role in assessing the scientific impact of a work itself. The limited availability of bibliographic references of academic articles has been strongly criticised for hindering research reproducibility and research assessment transparency. 

OpenCitations and Open Science

OpenCitations is a non-profit infrastructure which has been dedicated to providing  open access to bibliographic and citation data since 2010, with the aim to collect, publish, and preserve accurate and complete metadata of global academic publications and their citations. The data from OpenCitations is published under an open CC0 licence to facilitate reuse and includes almost 2 billion citations in the OpenCitations Index and basic metadata in the OpenCitations Meta.

Through its commitment to open bibliographic data, OpenCitations has become one of the main players in the current Open Science landscape, embracing Open Science core values put forward by the UNESCO Principles, the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure (POSI), the FAIR Data Principles, and the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) recommendations. 

In addition to participating in the GraspOS project, OpenCitations collaborates with industry projects like OpenAIRE Nexus and RISIS2, and actively participates in the SCOSS Family Network, POSI Adopters group, and CoARA Working Group Towards Open Infrastructures for Responsible Research Assessment (OI4RRA).

OpenCitations is by and for the academic community

The academic community also participates in the activities of OpenCitations through financial support, or by helping to provide, annotate, curate, and correct OpenCitations data, therefore working with the infrastructure to expand the coverage and quality of the bibliographic metadata and citations it provides. OpenCitations exists for and by the community to create a fairer, more sustainable and open future for research. Its future relies on continued support from academic institutions to ensure the financial stability and durability of the infrastructure

An extended version of this article was written by Chiara di Giambattista and published on the Italian portal for Open Science on 11 January 2024:

To stay up-to-date on OpenCitations' activities, follow the OpenCitations blog and the Public Roadmap on Trello.

Written by

Lottie Provost
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