Building A Research Nexus with Standards & Recommendations

Crossref metadata is openly available and actively used, but there is always more we can do to improve it. We want our metadata infrastructure to be dependable, accessible, engaging, open, and, increasingly, interconnected. Metadata can unite researchers, publishers, funders, and libraries in accelerating research. We see ourselves as key to creating a research nexus: a comprehensive, ever-expanding set of interconnected research objects. These objects can facilitate further research and understanding of what goes into and comes out of the research cycle, who’s involved, who’s funding what, and more. Each research object has myriad relationships — a journal article has many versions, and also consider all that can be related to it: data, contributors to the data, supplemental materials, funders, grants, conferences, conference posters and presentations, open peer reviews, other works that cite the article, podcasts, blogs, tweets that cite or explain the research, and more.

Imagine those relationships painlessly made machine actionable so that a funder can fully assess the impact of their funding, a researcher can discover how their research is being cited and discussed, and research can be placed in context. This can only be done with rich metadata provided by Crossref members and the development of metadata schemas supported by community collaboration. Crossref supports explicit relationships between research objects, and increasingly, the metadata provided within the records registered for each DOI makes research easy to find, cite, link, assess, and reuse. A Crossref metadata record contains bespoke metadata defined by Crossref, but more and more we’re coordinating with communities like NISO to develop our metadata specifications and support in a sustainable way.

Let’s start with JATS — many of our members use JATS as their native metadata format, and their dream is to send their JATS directly to Crossref to register their DOIs, increase discoverability, and (we hope) contribute to the research nexus. That’s our dream as well, so we’re mindful of the JATS tag set and try to coordinate changes as much as possible. Abstracts submitted to Crossref use the JATS specification, and we’re hoping to have more robust support soon.  

We are moving beyond the “version of record” to a “record of versions” and need to consistently identify and connect versions via DOIs and metadata, so we’re interested and invested in the revival of the Journal Article Versions (JAV) working group. We also support registration of preprints and peer reviews, and hope the recently published JATS4R Recommended Practice for Peer Review Materials helps members register and connect reviews to articles and other types of content.

Funder information connects funders to published articles and other works, and the JATS4R Funding Recommended Practice helps JATS users mark up their funding data in a way that works for both Crossref and JATS. We need to connect licenses to content for text and data mining and other uses, so we adopt the NISO Access and License Indicators Recommended Practice and participate in its ongoing development.

This metadata is vital for a complete research article record, but it also applies to other types of content. As we move towards a less article-centric nexus, we’re excited to support the Contributor Role Taxonomy (CRediT) in a forthcoming update, as CRediT — combined with ORCID iDs, ROR IDs, funder IDs, and other people and organizational PIDs — will help fill in the complete, complex picture of people and organizations contributing to research.

We’re also mindful of emerging recommendations, particularly from the Video & Audio Metadata Guidelines working group and those related to author name changes, as they will help us support metadata practices consistent with what our members want to provide.

Crossref is often asked to take on the big role of sorting out what metadata is appropriate for a certain type of content or concept. Sometimes that’s appropriate, but usually we’ll think “that’s more of a NISO thing” — not because we don’t want to be involved (we usually do!) but because our metadata is so interconnected within the scholarly sphere that it’s rarely something that will be of use to just Crossref and our membership, and we can all benefit from standards and recommended practice.