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Knowledgespeak Exclusive -- An interview update with Dr.Amy Brand, Director of Business Development, CrossRef. - 07 Jan 2007

Q

Give us a brief update on Crossref since you were last featured in Knowledgespeak in November 2005?

A

2006 was a very busy year for CrossRef. We passed the 24-million DOI mark, adding an average of 12,000 DOIs per day. We signed on 75 new member publishers, and some new affiliates as well. Among those are our first CrossRef Web Services partners -- Microsoft, Scirus, and EMBL-EBI (the European Bioinformatics Institute). Other major developments were the launch on our Simple Text Query service, dropping fees for participation in Forward Linking, our new CrossTech blog, and the recent hiring of Geoffrey Bilder as our Director of Strategic Initiatives (see http://www.crossref.org/01company/pr/press12052006.htm). We are really thrilled to have Geoff on the CrossRef team.


Q

How does CrossRef’s Web Services protocol help researchers, academics and librarians to search published content? In July, 2006, you announced Microsoft as the first official CrossRef Web Services Search partner. Please elaborate on the partnership.

A

CrossRef Web Services is intended to help our members get their metadata out to different services who can use it to aid in crawling, indexing, and linking back to the publishers' full-text. The core goals of CrossRef Web Services are to make the structured article-level metadata collected by CrossRef more readily available, with standard terms and conditions of use, to libraries, search engines, publishers, and others who can benefit; and, at the same time, to promote the use of the DOI as the linking standard for published content via wider dissemination of CrossRef metadata and DOIs. Just as the core CrossRef linking service removes the need for bilateral linking agreements among publishers, the Search Partner Program removes the need for bilateral agreements covering use of metadata between publishers and search providers.

Participation in CrossRef Web Services is of course optional for CrossRef member-publishers, but very few of our members have opted out. Microsoft was our first Web Services partner and has been using our metadata in the development of their Windows Live Academic Search beta. Initially, they built up the service in select content areas, and they are now in a position to index the full-text of any academic publisher who would like to participate.


Q

The company recently went live with the Simple-Text Query service. The service is considered an alternative to CrossRef's XML-based batch query interface. Please elaborate.

A

CrossRef's Simple-Text Query service, developed in partnership with Inera, facilitates DOI look-up for researchers and publishers because it parses unstructured, simple-text references into XML and returns any matching DOIs for those references. This means that user -- whether publisher or researcher -- can sidestep the XML tagging of references that Crossref querying typically entails. A simple cut-and-paste form accepts references formatted in a wide range of bibliographic styles and returns the DOI for the publication if one is found in CrossRef. Users can also check the accuracy of a reference by clicking on the returned DOI and viewing the bibliographic information available directly from the publisher.

With the Simple-Text Query functionality, more publishers are now able to implement reference linking. CrossRef serves a very broad range of publishers, including many members with limited resources and technical expertise, and we are always striving to lower the technological barriers to full participation in CrossRef for our members. Because the service is now freely available on CrossRef's homepage, researchers are beginning to use it as well, to check references and add DOIs during the authoring process.


Q

How has the service been received in the market? Please provide statistics on usage rates.

A

We are averaging about 75,000 transactions per month for the service, totaling around 90,000 submitted references, and 60,000 successful parses with DOIs returned. This would indicate that much of the current usage, although not all, is still single-reference experimentation with the service. We plan to add a file upload front-end for our members soon and are also looking into using the service as a reference deposit interface for CrossRef Forward Linking.


Q

As a leading DOI registration agency, how does Crossref assist publishers to implement DOI-related marketing programmes. Also, please explain how the use of DOI helps publishers to increase revenue.

A

CrossRef doesn't directly assist publishers in marketing. As a trade association serving the whole industry, we make a point of staying out of the business models of our individual members. So any impact of the CrossRef DOI on revenue is indirect. That said, publishers benefit from the traffic that results from having their content registered in CrossRef and thereby "visible" for linking. They also benefit by adding value to their content in the form of DOI-linked references.


Q

Last month, Crossref expanded its web services with the release of an Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) interface. How will the new interface facilitate distribution of metadata from participating publishers?

A

CrossRef’s new OAI-PMH repository interface uses a robust, flexible, and widely adopted platform targeted at consumers of large quantities of metadata that allows the user to come in and pick up a particular set of data. Access to the CrossRef’s metadata repository is controlled by IP authentication. For each partner, we tailor the access to provide specific content from select publishers to an authorized recipient.


Q

Crossref recently announced an initiative to add hundreds of journals from Asia and Africa. Briefly elaborate on the project. What other plans does the company have in store for developing nations?

A

We are really delighted to be partnering with the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP), the National Inquiry Services Centre (NISC) and African Journals OnLine (AJOL), , to include more journals from Africa and Asia within our linking network.

INASP, an international NGO working to promote scientific publishing in developing countries, will initially register journals from Nepal and Vietnam, while NISC will register its entire list of South African-based academic journals and bibliographic databases. AJOL, a fast-growing, independent journal aggregator, currently represents over 260 multi-disciplinary journals from 21 African countries. As these organizations grow in terms of the content from the developing nations that they support, so will CrossRef. We will also continue to explore other such opportunities. We believe that offering CrossRef’s services on an affordable basis to qualified publishers in these regions links them with the global research literature and will ultimately raise the global visibility of and access to these journals.


Q

What is the current subscriber base for the CrossRef system across participating and member publishers? How do you plan to expand it in the coming years?

A

We currently have 400+ dues-paying members, but it is important to note that these members account for over 2,300 publishers and societies because of various co-publication, hosting, and sponsorship arrangements in the industry. We expect to keep growing via the types of content that can be registered in CrossRef and, accordingly, through the organizations publishing these less traditional content types. We have moved well beyond the STM journal sphere that we started in. Our system now supports the registration of books, chapters, conference proceedings, technical reports, working papers, dissertations, standards, datasets, and other document components. When we consider the full range of interlinked content that comprises scholarship online today and tomorrow, CrossRef's growth horizon looks vast.


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