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OSTI Partnering with Publishers on CrossRef and FundRef to Enhance Public Access to DOE Scientific and Technical Information
by Dr. Walt Warnick on Wed, 3 Jul, 2013

Throughout our history, the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) has worked to make authoritative science information ever more efficiently available to researchers and the public alike. Our core mission – ensuring access to and preservation of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) research results – has not changed. But the technology we apply to that mission has changed a lot over the past 20 years. By adopting Internet technology carefully and early, pioneering new advances in that technology to meet our needs and partnering with other stakeholders in the scientific and technical information community (STI), OSTI aspires to achieve our mission better than ever before.

In 1994, OSTI actually created the first DOE home page, and we have made significant strides into the Information Age ever since, defining new electronic exchange formats, creating collections of digitized scientific and technical information and establishing an energy science and technology virtual library. OSTI also has played a leading role in developing and adopting pioneering web tools such as federated search, the simultaneous search of multiple web databases in real time via a single search query, and relevance ranking, technology that allows search results to be returned in a ranked order relevant to the search query, to enhance the diffusion of scientific knowledge.

As we reported in the last issue of the OSTI.gov Newsletter, as directed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and requested by former DOE Office of Science Director Dr. William Brinkman, OSTI is now developing a gateway that will provide public access to the gold standard of scientific communications, peer-reviewed accepted manuscripts and scientific journal articles resulting from DOE research investments.

OSTI is committed to being a leader in making the web work for DOE science, and in recent years, OSTI has worked especially closely with scholarly publishers on a number of initiatives to improve access to DOE R&D results. Two of those collaborations, CrossRef and FundRef, promise to be integral components of the DOE public access solution that OSTI will be unveiling.

CrossRef is a collaboration among scholarly publishers that makes it easier to access online materials by assigning “Digital Object Identifiers” or DOIs to content and enabling researchers, librarians and other users to navigate from one resource to another through reference citation linking. A DOI is a permanent, electronic identification assigned to individual document or datasets. A DOI gives the content more stable linking and aids in citation, search and retrieval of R&D results and scholarly publications.

CrossRef was launched in 2000 and now includes more than 4,300 commercial and not-for-profit members who collectively publish more than 27,000 journal titles. CrossRef interlinks nearly 60 million items in a variety of content types, including journals, books, conference proceedings, working papers and technical reports, and the reference linking service’s database is growing by more than 2.5 million items a year.

In 2005, OSTI became the first government agency to join CrossRef, to facilitate access to DOE’s vast stores of scientific and technical information. OSTI assigned DOIs to the contents of its Information Bridge, which included 94,000 full-text and bibliographic records of DOE research since 1995 in physics, chemistry, materials, biology, environmental sciences, energy technologies, engineering, computer and information science, renewable energy and other topics.

OSTI was pleased to join CrossRef in pioneering this first-of-a-kind government-private partnership because we believed that coupling the vast resources available at Information Bridge with the reference-linking capabilities of CrossRef would advance OSTI’s mission of making DOE research results more accessible. Ever since, when available, DOIs have been added to records in OSTI databases for technical reports, accomplishment reports, and theses and dissertations. Today OSTI and CrossRef are partnering to make it easier to access more than 171,000 science research reports available electronically on the successor to the Information Bridge, OSTI’s SciTech Connect site.

In May 2012, CrossRef announced FundRef, a pilot collaboration between scholarly publishers and funding agencies to standardize funding source information for scholarly publications. OSTI was one of four funding agencies that participated in the pilot of the funder identification service, which provides the names of research funders and the grant or award number attributed in journal articles or other scholarly documents. FundRef makes it possible for researchers, publishers and funding agencies to track the research published by sponsoring agencies.

A beta version of FundRef Search allows a user to search the data from the publishers and funders that participated in the pilot for funder names and abbreviations. In addition, CrossRef Metadata Search allows search by grant number.

In May 2013, CrossRef officially launched FundRef. Publishers participating in the initiative add the name of the agency funder and a grant or award number to the metadata they already provide to CrossRef for reference linking. The FundRef funder registry accounts for a list of 4000 global funder names (including alternate names, aliases, and abbreviations), allowing authors to choose from a standard roster of funders. The tagged funding data is then relayed through publishers’ systems to be stored at CrossRef.

OSTI believes FundRef is a great way for publishers and funding agencies to work together. Research agencies like DOE are accountable for the results of their expenditures to Congress and to the public. Publications in the peer-reviewed literature represent an important output of those expenses, but they have been difficult to track and quantify until now. Tagging this data in a searchable, standard way is a key step forward.

And that’s OSTI’s purpose: advancing science and sustaining technological creativity by making R&D findings available to DOE researchers and the public.

Dr. Walter L. Warnick is Director of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI).

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Dr. Walt Warnick's picture
Dr. Walt Warnick
Former Director, U.S. DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information