With the literature available to researchers growing—indeed, in the last decade the amount of articles published increased by around 44%[i]—the way in which researchers are able to consume that literature becomes increasingly important. Readers need ways to quickly find what research is relevant to them. For example, say I want to find all the literature behind a specific research resource (eg, software, databases, antibodies, model organisms, etc). Doing this would be timely and inaccurate at best. Why? Because they’re not necessarily tracked or machine-readable. And because researchers don’t consistently or uniformly cite these resources.
In an era of “big publishing” and the Web, we are undergoing a cultural shift in the way we communicate science and interact with “the literature”. Part of this falls on the publisher. As a publisher, we are not only adding articles to the literature for people to read; we are contributing content to a database of observations and claims that span the entire Web. More linking and better metadata is needed. (And for open access publishers like BioMed Central, public APIs for data and text miners is crucial.) Part of this falls on the researcher. Key information needs to be identified (cited) consistently and in the same way (through a unique identifier). As is often repeated in the open data community, what’s needed is both a technical and cultural shift.
At BioMed Central and Springer, we are happy to announce our participation in a project that does just that: the Resources Identification Initiative. Sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility, and being led by a diverse collaboration including the Neuroscience Information Framework and the Oregon Health & Science University Library, and with some carrots (aka “free stuff”) thrown into the mix by Antibodies-Online, Force 11 are coordinating a project to aid identification of research resources in journal articles, starting with the neurosciences. The journals participating are:
- BMC Neuroscience
- BMC Neurology
- Journal of Neuroinflammation
- Behavioral and Brain Functions
- Molecular Autism
- Molecular Pain
- Neural Development
- Brain Structure and Function
- Journal of Computational Neuroscience
- Neurochemical Research
- Neurotoxicity Research
- The Cerebellum
The project aims to make it easier for researchers to identify key resources used to produce the scientific findings behind a publication and to enable other scientists to easily use and find information about those same resources. It has three requirements. The resources have to be:
1) machine readable;
2) available outside the paywall;
3) uniformly represented across publishers and journals.
To start with, the pilot project, which started February 1st, will test the system for a limited set of resources: antibodies, model organisms (mice, zebrafish, flies) and tools (ie, software and databases). Authors will be asked to provide unique identifiers for these resources through a Resource Identification Portal as part of the submission process. The pilot will run from 3 months, and participation by authors is not mandatory. Making this optional for authors will help to gauge community support of such endeavours.
You can learn more about this initiative on the Force11 site.
Take part now by submitting to a participating journal and you will also get a t-shirt or a coffee mug from Antibodies-Online as a thank you for your help.
[i] Van Noorden, Richard. Science Publishing: The Trouble with Retractions. 5 October 2011 | Nature 478, 26-28 (2011) | doi:10.1038/478026a