Open citations: A letter from the scientometric community to scholarly publishers

December 5th, 2017

Openness is central to the research endeavor. It is essential to promote reproducibility and appraisal of research, reduce misconduct, and ensure equitable access to and participation in science. Yet, calls for increased openness in science are often met with initial resistance. The introduction of pre-print servers, open access repositories, and open data sets were, for example, initially resisted, but eventually adopted without adverse effects to the scholarly ecosystem. The launch of the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) is facing similar obstacles. This initiative has campaigned for scholarly publishers to make openly available the references found in articles from their journals. Many publishers, including most of the large ones, support the initiative and have opened their references. However, the initiative still lacks support from a minority of the large publishers.

Calls for enhanced reproducibility have been heard across all fields of science. However, scientometrics is often unable to meet these standards, largely because of the dependency of bibliometric research upon proprietary data sources. The ability to undertake large-scale and generalizable bibliometric research, both basic and applied, is limited to a few well-funded centers that can afford to pay for full access to the raw data of Web of Science or Scopus. The remaining bulk of bibliometric research is restricted to the analysis of small data sets or the use of freely available data sources such as PubMed, Google Scholar, and Microsoft Academic. Although these freely available data sources are valuable, they suffer from shortcomings, such as incomplete coverage, data quality problems, lack of transparency, or limited large-scale accessibility. In order to conduct rigorous analyses, scientometricians need a data source that is freely available and comprehensive. This is a matter of scientific integrity, scientific progress, and equity—we must ensure that all members of the scientometric community are able to participate in and validate the research in the field. I4OC is striving to create such an opportunity.

I4OC requests that all scholarly publishers make references openly available by providing access to the reference lists they submit to Crossref. At present, most of the large publishers—including the American Physical Society, Cambridge University Press, PLOS, SAGE, Springer Nature, and Wiley—have opened their reference lists. As a result, half of the references deposited in Crossref are now freely available. We urge all publishers who have not yet opened their reference lists to do so now. This includes the American Chemical Society, Elsevier, IEEE, and Wolters Kluwer Health. By far the largest number of closed references can be found in journals published by Elsevier: of the approximately half a billion closed references stored in Crossref, 65% are from Elsevier journals. Opening these references would place the proportion of open references at nearly 83%.

Open availability of citation data is important not only for the scientometric community, but also for science at large. Scientometrics is widely used to support science policy and research evaluation, with consequences for the entire scientific community. There is a need for specialized organizations, both commercial and non-commercial, that offer scientometric services. However, in order to guarantee full transparency and reproducibility of scientometric analyses, these analyses need to be based on open data sources. Analyses based on proprietary data sources have limited transparency and tend to be difficult to reproduce. Yet, as long as half of all references are missing in open data sources such as Crossref, analyses based on these data sources do not offer a viable alternative. With such a large proportion of missing references, these data sources provide an incomplete portrait of the scholarly landscape, which can lead to negative effects, such as policies that ignore certain areas of research or certain countries.

Scientometricians have a professional obligation to promote sound practices in our field. In the current environment, advocating for open references is critical to ensure replicable and equitable research practices. We should use our relationships with journals—as authors, reviewers, and editorial board members—to advocate for openness and should expect scientometric journals to be leaders in this respect. References are a product of scholarly work and represent the backbone of science—demonstrating the origin and advancement of knowledge—and provide essential information for studying science and making decisions about the future of research. References are generated by the academic community and should be freely available to this community. We therefore issue a strong call to all publishers to make available to the academic community that which it created in the first place. To those publishers that have not already responded to the Initiative for Open Citations, our plea is: open citations now!

Original signatories

Cassidy R. Sugimoto
Indiana University Bloomington; President of the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics

Ludo Waltman
CWTS, Leiden University; Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Informetrics

Vincent Larivière
Université de Montréal; Observatoire des Sciences et des Technologies; Associate Editor of Journal of Informetrics

Nees Jan van Eck
CWTS, Leiden University

Kevin W. Boyack
SciTech Strategies

Paul Wouters
CWTS, Leiden University

Sarah de Rijcke
CWTS, Leiden University

List of signatories

Adrián A. Díaz-Faes
INGENIO (CSIC-UPV)
Abrizah Abdullah
University of Malaya
Giovanni Abramo
National Research Council of Italy; Associate Editor of Journal of Economic Surveys
Eduardo Aguado-López
Sistema de Información Científica Redalyc
Per Ahlgren
KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Shirley Ainsworth
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
Muge Akbulut
Yildirim Beyazit University
Dag W. Aksnes
NIFU
Umut Al
Hacettepe University
Juan Pablo Alperin
Simon Fraser University
Christian Althaus
University of Bern
Jens Peter Andersen
CFA, Centre for Studies on Research and Research Policy, Aarhus University
Margaret Anderson
Queen's University Belfast
Manolis Antonoyiannakis
Columbia University & American Physical Society
Rigas Arvanitis
CEPED-IRD & IFRIS
gennaro avallone
Università di Salerno
Mohammad Zuheir Bakleh
United Nations, ESCWA
Keita Bando
Nagoya Gakuin University, Japan
Antonio Banfi
University of Bergamo, head of the Department of Law
Judit Bar-Ilan
Bar-llan University
Martin Bartoš
Charles University
Christiane Behnert
Hamburg University of Applied Sciences
Carl T. Bergstrom
University of Washington
Karin Bijsterveld
Maastricht University, The Netherlands
Felipe Borges dos Santos
CWTS, Leiden University
Timothy D Bowman
Wayne State University
Sean Burns
University of Kentucky
Quentin Burrell
KU Leuven
Guillaume Cabanac
University of Toulouse
Maria Cláudia Cabrini Grácio
São Paulo State University (UNESP)
Sonia Caregnato
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Dr. Rupak Chakravarty
Panjab University, INDIA
Scott Chamberlain
rOpenSci
Chaomei Chen
Drexel University; Editor-in-Chief of Information Visualization; Specialty Chief Editor of Frontiers in Research Metrics and Analytics
Liyue Chen
National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Zaida Chinchilla-Rodríguez
Institute of Public Goods and Policies (CSIC)
Songphan Choemprayong
Chulalongkorn University
Heather Coates
IUPUI
Manuel Jesús Cobo Martín
University of Cádiz, Spain
Giovanni Colavizza
École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne
Cristian Colliander
Umeå University
Martin Collin
Technical University of Denmark
Philipp Conzett
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Ciriaco Andrea D’Angelo
University of Rome "Tor Vergata"
Marin Dacos
CNRS
sergio d'antonio maceiras
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Félix de Moya Anegón
Scimago Research Group
Tahereh Dehdarirad
Chalmers University of Technology
Emilio Delgado Lopez-Cozar
Universidad de Granada
Gemma Derrick
Centre for Higher Education Research and Evaluation, Lancaster University, UK
Thierry DEUTSCH
CEA
Zengru DI
Beijing Normal University
Fereshteh Didegah
Simon Fraser University
Mallikarjun Dora
IIM Ahmedabad
Pablo Dorta González
Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Ameet Doshi
Georgia Institute of Technology Library
Jonathan Dugan
BIDS, University of California, Berkeley
Adam Dunn
Macquarie University, Australia
Denis ECKERT
CNRS Centre Marc Bloch Berlin
Nora Engel
Maastricht University
Tim Engels
University of Antwerp
Katie Evans
University of Bath
Joshua Eykens
University of Antwerp
Adian Fatchur Rochim
Diponegoro University, Indonesia
Lingzi Feng
National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Lars Figenschou
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Charles Fox
University of Kentucky
Thomas Franssen
CWTS, Leiden University
Jan Erik Frantsvåg
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Koen Frenken
Utrecht Universitty
Elizabeth Gadd
Loughborough University
Paola Galimberti
University of Milan
Laurent Gatto
University of Cambridge
Marianne Gauffriau
The Royal Danish Library
Elie Geisler
Illinois Institute of Technology
Antonia Gogoglou
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Greece
Alicia Fátima Gómez Sánchez
University of Hertfordshire
Mikael Graffner
Lund University
eric gressier
cnam-cedric
Jean-Claude Guédon
Université de Montréal
José Carlos Guerrero
Universidad de la República
Raf Guns
University of Antwerp
Hongmei Guo
National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Karen Gutzman
Northwestern University
Björn Hammarfelt
University of Borås
Chris Hartgerink
Tilburg University
Ricardo Hartley
Universidad Central de Chile
Anne-Wil Harzing
Middlesex University London
Saeed UL Hassan
Information Technology University
Carlos Roberto Massao Hayashi
Universidade Federal de São Carlos
Erica Hayes
NCSU Libraries
ENRIQUE HERRERA-VIEDMA
UNIVERSITY OF GRANADA
Drahomira Herrmannova
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Claudiu Herteliu
Bucharest University of Economic Studies
Sybille Hinze
German Center for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW), Berlin
Adrian Ho
University of Kentucky Libraries
Kristi Holmes
Northwestern University
Stein Høydalsvik
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Violeta Ilik
Stony Brook University
Pablo Iriarte
University of Geneva Library
Hamid R. Jamali
Charles Sturt University
Bo Jarneving
Gothenburg University Library
Laurent Jégou
Université Toulouse Jean Jaurés
Fred Jendrzejewski
KIP, Universität Heidelberg
Tobias Jeppsson
KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Michael Johnson Jr.
University of Wisconsin Parkside
Youngim Jung
Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information
Caroline Lynn Kamerlin
Uppsala University
Anna Kaminska
University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland
Sebastian Karcher
Syracuse University; co-maintainer Citation Style Language
Daniel Karlsson
Jyväskylä University
Sylvan Katz
SPRU, University of Sussex
Simon Kerridge
University of Kent
Petr Knoth
KMi, The Open University
Bianca Kramer
Utrecht University
Erwin Krauskopf
Universidad Andres Bello
Pieter Kroonenberg
The Three-Mode Company
Stefan Kuhlmann
University of Twente
Tukaram Kumbar
Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar
Mikael Laakso
Hanken School of Economics
Agne Larsson
Karolinska Institutet
Armel Le Bail
CNRS
June Young Lee
Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information
Clément Levallois
emlyon business school
Loet Leydesdorff
University of Amsterdam
Leif Longva
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Kun Lu
University of Oklahoma
Colin MacLean
Robert Gordon University Aberdeen
Malcolm Macleod
University of Edinburgh
Dilruba Mahbuba
Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies
Marion Maisonobe
LISST, Toulouse University
Nicola Manini
University of Milano
Yannis Manolopoulos
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Thierry Marchant
Ghent University
Alexandre Masson Maroldi
Universidade Federal de Rondônia
Ben Martin
SPRU, University of Sussex
Alberto Martín-Martín
University of Granada
Rudolf Maurer
Philipp Mayr
GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences
Filippo Menczer
Indiana
Cristian Merlino S.
Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata
Eric Meyer
University of Oxford
Susanne Mikki
University of Bergen
Douglas Henrique Milanez
Federal University of São Carlos, Brazil
Bruce Milne
University of Coimbra
David Minguillo
KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Julià Minguillón
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Shubhanshu Mishra
iSchool, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Bernhard Mittermaier
Forschungszentrum Jülich, Central Library
Philippe Mongeon
Université de Montréal
Lucy Montgomery
Centre for Culture and Technology, Curtin University
Jose A. Moral-Munoz
University of Cadiz
Yamir Moreno
University of Zaragoza
Dakota Murray
Indiana University Bloomington
Ibahim Musa
Tina Nane
Delft University of Technology
Gustaf Nelhans
Swedish School of Library and Information Science, University of Borås
Jeppe Nicolaisen
University of Copenhagen
Yvonne Nobis
University of Cambridge
Ed Noyons
Leiden University
Tom Olyhoek
Editor in Chief DOAJ
Charles Oppenheim
RGU
Enrique Orduna-Malea
Universitat Politècnica de València
José Luis Ortega
Cybermetrics Lab
Truyken Ossenblok
independent
Stefano Ossicini
University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy
Abel Packer
SciELO Program
Jinseo Park
Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information
Andrés Pavas
Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Annalisa Pelizza
University of Twente
Roberto Penteado Filho
Embrapa SGI
Olle Persson
Umeå university
Isabella Peters
ZBW Leibniz Information Center for Economics
Nicholas Pike
University of Oslo
Maria Cristina Piumbato Innocentini Hayashi
Federal University of São Carlos, Brazil
Gangan Prathap
APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University
Juan Jose Prieto-Gutiérrez
Complutense University
Elena Primo-Peña
Biblioteca Nacional de Ciencias de la Salud, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Spain
Julien Rabaud
Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour - Service Commun de la Documentation
Ismael Ràfols
Ingenio (CSIC-UPV), Universitat Politècnica de València
Juste Raimbault
Université Paris 7
Bijan Ranjbar-Sahraei
CWTS, Leiden University
Catharina Rehn
Karolinska Institutet
Silvana Roque de Oliveira
Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
Ronald Rousseau
KU Leuven; Co-Editor-in Chief of Journal of Data and Information Science
Ian Rowlands
King's College London
Cecilia Rozemblum
Universidad Nacional de La Plata
Javier Ruiz-Castillo
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
Verica Rupar
Auckland University of Technology
Alex Rushforth
University of Oxford
Iqra Safder
Information Technology University, Lahore, Pakistan
Davide Sangalli
ISM, CNR (Italy)
Dirce Maria Santin
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Andrea Scharnhorst
Data Archiving and Networked Services, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
Birgit Schmidt
University of Göttingen, State and University Library
Jesper Schneider
Aarhus University
John Schumacher
State University of New York
Aravind Sesagiri Raamkumar
Nanyang Technological University
Robert Shapiro
University of Kentucky
Laura Sheble
Wayne State University
Zhesi Shen
National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Shuangqing Shi
Peking University
Fei Shu
McGill University
Kyle Siler
Utrecht University
Peter Sjögårde
Karolinska institutet
Neil Smalheiser
University of Illinois
Henry Small
SciTech Strategies
Min Song
Yonsei University
Stephan Stahlschmidt
German Centre of Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW)
Lovro Šubelj
University of Ljubljana
Gopal Tadepalli
Anna University
Ely Francina Tannuri de Oliveira
Paulista State University
Dario Taraborelli
Wikimedia Foundation
Zehra Taskin
Hacettepe University
Clifford Tatum
CWTS, Leiden University
Mike Taylor
University of Bristol
Stuart Taylor
The Royal Society
Maria Alejandra Tejada Gomez
Twente University BMS Steps
Mike Thelwall
University of Wolverhampton
Robert Tijssen
CWTS, Leiden University
Sichao Tong
National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Yasar Tonta
Hacettepe University
Vincent Traag
CWTS, Leiden University
Anthony F.J. van Raan
CWTS, Leiden University
Franck Vazquez
MDPI, Basel, Switzerland
Theresa Velden
TU Berlin
Tomas Vera
Universidad de Chile
Frederik Verleysen
University of Antwerp
André Vermeij
Kenedict Innovation Analytics
Matthieu Verstraete
University of Liège Belgium
Bryan Vickery
Colwiz
Dominique Vinck
Université de Lausannne
Filip Vostal
Czech Academy of Sciences
Xianwen Wang
WISE Lab, Dalian University of Technology
Qi Wang
Aarhus university
Lili Wang
UNU-MERIT, The Netherlands
Katrin Weller
GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences
Jevin West
University of Washington
Brenton Wiernik
University of South Florida
Mark Wilson
University of Auckland
Dietmar Wolfram
University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee
Jinshan Wu
Beijing Normal University
Sally Wyatt
Maastricht University
Bin Xu
University of Arkansas
Erjia Yan
Drexel University
Kwan Yi
Eastern Kentucky University
Huang Ying
Beijing Institute of Technology
Zohreh Zahedi
CWTS, Leiden University
Sofia Zapounidou
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Greece
Rintze Zelle
Citation Style Language
Ping Zhou
Zhejiang University
Philipp Zumstein
Mannheim University Library

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