Can You Trust Scholarly Information?

Trust Panel: (L-R) Carol Anne Meyer, Howard Ratner, Jan Brase

Cross Mark Initiatives:  Why a Monkey Matters
Carol Anne Meyer, Director of Business Development and Marketing, CrossRef

What do monkeys have to do with publishing?  Well, of course there’s the “infinite monkey theorem” about an infinite number of monkeys typing for an infinite time and eventually producing something sensible, like a work of Shakespeare!  (Even with just 50 monkeys, the probability of producing just a single word, like “Hamlet” has been estimated at approximately 1 in 15 billion.)  But I digress:  Carol Anne Meyer explained that monkeys matter in scholarly publishing because a scholarly paper on monkey behavior was retracted because of misconduct by the author.  So the question of trust is very important.  Although a blog, Retraction Watch, tracks retractions, websites do not handle them consistently, with the result that readers may never know that an article has been retracted.  Science Direct adds “RETRACTED” to the titles of such articles, but some websites do not offer any type of indication.  And what about e-books or results from federated search systems?

Meyer pointed out that many things may happen to an article after it is published.  Here are some of them:

Documents on the web are living and can be easily changed.  When content changes, readers need be aware of it.  Which version is the version of record?  Most reputable publishers are trying to communicate this information, some better than others. Here is a record of an article from Science, showing a link to a correction.

Link to an article correction

CrossRef has attemped to solve this problem by developing CrossMark, a logo that can be attached to a paper indicating that updates exist.  When the user clicks on the logo, a popup window opens indicating that updates are available.

CrossMark logo and popup window

This logo can be applied to PDFs or other web documents, providing a way for the publisher to list the Publication Record information, such as funding agencies, publication history, plagiarism screening, license types, etc.  The logo could even be displayed in Google search results, indicating the version of record.  It is important to note that CrossMark is not a DRM system.  A pilot test of CrossMark is underway now, with a 3rd quarter launch envisioned.

ORCID: An Open Registry of Scholarly IDs
Howard Ratner, Chairman, ORCID, Inc. and CTO, Nature Publishing Group

Researchers care about their identity when they join a faculty, apply for a grant, or submit a manuscript to a publisher.  ORCID (Open Researcher & contributor ID Project) supports a record of scholarly community by creating a reliable identifier record for authors.  It was started in December 2009, with launch planned for early 2012.

ORCID is a non-profit consortium of 230+ participants, with the largest group being international universities and societies.  It is open to any organization with an interest in scholarly communication.  There are many identifier silos; ORCID hopes to bridge them.  ORCID’s mission is to create a permanent, clear, and unambiguous record of scholarly communication by enabling reliable attribution of authors and contributors.  All software developed by ORCID will be released under an Open Source Software license, and fees collected will be used to ensure the longevity of ORCID.

ORCID’s first efforts will be disambiguation of author names using “trusted linking partners” (TLPs) to create a relationship with self-asserted systems.  Input of records is very easy; building the author record is key.  Knowing publications of an author is important.  ORCID/DOI pairs will be sent to publishers during the article creation process.

Jan Brase, DataCite

The concept behind DataCite is that data should be citable just like articles to give it higher visability, easy re-use and verification, enhance its reputation for the collection and documentation (for example, in a citation index), and to avoid duplications.  To accomplish its mission, DataCite assigns DOI names, which scientists know how to use, to data sets, thus linking them to the supporting scientific article.  It is a global consortium of local institutions and is hosted and managed by TIB, the German National Library of Science & Technology.  Most members of DataCite are libraries because they are trustworthy organizations for scientists.  Here are the 3 main goals of DataCite.

DataCite goals

DataCite has registered over 1 million datasets so far and has published a metadata schema for all of its members.  This metadata will shortly be uploaded into the Web of Science and other indexes.  In this way, DataCite supports researchers, data centers, and publishers.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor


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