Initiative for Open Citations

Initiative for Open Citations
FormationApril 6, 2017; 7 years ago (2017-04-06)
Legal statusActive
PurposeUnrestricted availability of scholarly citation data

The Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) is a project launched publicly in April 2017,[1][2][3][4][5][6] that describes itself as:[7][8] "a collaboration between scholarly publishers, researchers, and other interested parties to promote the unrestricted availability of scholarly citation data and to make these data available." It is intended to facilitate improved citation analysis.



The citations are stored in Crossref and are made available through the Crossref REST API. They are also available from the OpenCitations Corpus, a database that harvests citation data from Crossref and other sources.[9] The data are considered by those involved in the Initiative to be in the public domain, and so a CC0 licence is used.[5] The stated benefits of this approach are: 1. discoverability of published content; 2. the building of new services, and 3. creation of a public citation graph to explore connections between knowledge fields.[9] The Royal Society of Chemistry earmarked the I4OC as a feature of excellence in publishing,[10] and IOP Publishing participates to implement their commitment to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment.[11]



The initiative was established in response to a paper on citations in Wikidata, Citations needed for the sum of all human knowledge: Wikidata as the missing link between scholarly publishing and linked open data, given by Dario Taraborelli, head of research at the Wikimedia Foundation, at the eighth Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing, in September 2016.[5] At that time, only 1% of papers in Crossref had citations metadata that were freely available. By the time of the public launch, on 6 April 2017, that had risen to 40% as a result of setting up the initiative.[6]

The founding partners were:[12]

At the time of launch, 64 organisations, including the Wellcome Trust, the Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation,[5] had endorsed the project and as of May, 2017, Sloan Foundation confirmed it would be providing funding.[13] 29 of these organisations were publishers who had agreed to share their citation metadata openly.[2] These include Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley.[6] On 11 July 2017, the Initiative announced that a further sixteen publishers had signed up.[14] On 8 August 2017, the Initiative released on open letter to stakeholders.[15] The same month, the British Library became a member organisation.[16]



Elsevier, who contribute 30% of the citation metadata in Crossref,[6] did not initially join the initiative. In April 2017, Elsevier's vice-president of corporate relations, Tom Reller, said:[1]

We are aware of the initiative but want to learn more before making a decision on whether to participate.

In January 2019, the Editorial board of Elsevier's Journal of Informetrics resigned and launched the new journal Quantitative Science Studies, citing Elsevier's lack of support for the I4OC as one of the main reasons for the move.[17] Elsevier claimed in response that they could not release their data for free due to loss of licensing revenue from their proprietary Scopus citation services.[18] Elsevier finally joined the initiative in January 2021 after the data was already available with an Open Data Commons license in Microsoft Academic.[19]

In August 2022, the number of articles whose reference lists were free to access and reuse exceeded 60 million, out of 134 million articles indexed by Crossref.[20]

See also



  1. ^ a b Schiermeier, Quirin (6 April 2017). "Initiative aims to break science's citation paywall". Nature. doi:10.1038/nature.2017.21800. ISSN 1476-4687. S2CID 57712682.
  2. ^ a b Treanor, Kim (6 April 2017). "New Large-Scale Initiative Aims To Increase Open Access To Scholarly Research". Intellectual Property Watch. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  3. ^ Taraborelli, Dario; Dugan, Jonathan (6 April 2017). "How we know what we know: The Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) helps unlock millions of connections between scholarly research". Wikimedia Blog. Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  4. ^ "Global Coalition Pushes for Unrestricted Sharing of Scholarly Citation Data". Creative Commons. 6 April 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d Chawla, Dalmeet Singh (6 April 2017). "Now free: citation data from 14 million papers, and more might come". Science. doi:10.1126/science.aal1012.
  6. ^ a b c d Molteni, Megan (6 April 2017). "The Initiative for Open Citations Is Tearing Down Science's Citation Paywall, One Link At A Time". Wired. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  7. ^ "I4OC: Initiative for Open Citations". Initiative for Open Citations. 6 April 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Opening Up Research Citations: A Q&A with Dario Taraborelli | Wiley". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  9. ^ a b "FAQ". Initiative for Open Citations. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  10. ^ "Re-thinking excellence in research - RSC signs DORA". Royal Society of Chemistry. June 2020. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  11. ^ "IOP Publishing signs DORA affirming its commitment to raising standards in research evaluation | Mirage News". Mirage News. 2020-10-19. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  12. ^ "Press". Initiative for Open Citations. 6 April 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  13. ^ Shotton, David (2017-05-15). "The Sloan Foundation funds OpenCitations". OpenCitations. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  14. ^ "Availability of open reference data nears 50% as major societies and influential publishers endorse the Initiative for Open Citations". Initiative for Open Citations. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  15. ^ I4OC. "I4OC: Initiative for Open Citations - Press". Retrieved 2017-08-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ "I4OC: The British Library and open data - Science blog". British Library . Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  17. ^ "Editorial board of Journal of Informetrics resigns and launches new journal". CWTS News. 14 January 2019. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  18. ^ Reller, Tom (15 January 2019). "About the resignation of the Journal of Informetrics Editorial Board". Elsevier Connect. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  19. ^ Waltman, Ludo (22 December 2020). "Q&A about Elsevier's decision to open its citations". Leiden Madtrics. Universiteit Leiden. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  20. ^ Singh Chawla, Dalmeet (2022-09-13). "Five-year campaign breaks science's citation paywall". Nature. doi:10.1038/d41586-022-02926-y. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 36100743. S2CID 252220223.