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Published
Sep 22, 2022
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ANASTASIA ARITZI
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Citations and bibliographical data: discover OpenCitations!

Sep 22, 2022
Written by Chiara Di Giambattista 

Why OpenCitations?

A bibliographic citation is a conceptual directional link from a citing entity to a cited entity, for the purpose of acknowledging or ascribing credit for the contribution made by the authors of the cited entity. Bibliographic citations are central to academia, knitting together independent works of scholarship into a global endeavor and providing authors with a mechanism for assigning credit to other researchers, and their open availability is a crucial requirement for the bibliometrics and scientometrics domain.

OpenCitations has been established as a community-guided open infrastructure to provide access to global scholarly bibliographic and citation data as Linked Open Data using Semantic Web technologies, thereby providing a disruptive alternative to traditional proprietary citation indexes. Since 2010, OpenCitations has strived to put to commons bibliographical and citation data, for the benefit of the global scholarly community. However, as OpenCitations’ director David Shotton underlined in his recent post “From little acorns...a retrospective on OpenCitations”, it’s been since 2018 that both the infrastructure’s services and the number of people involved have increasingly started growing. At present, OpenCitations is directed by David Shotton and Silvio Peroni, and is managed by the  Research Centre for Open Scholarly Metadata at the University of Bologna.

OpenCitations services for the benefit of the scholarly community

OpenCitations undertakes advocacy for open scholarly metadata, particularly via the initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) and the Initiative for Open Abstracts (I4OA), with the aim to change the current academic context (in which the provision of citation data is left to commercial sources) by providing open metadata with a scope, depth, accuracy. The last twelve years of work and dedication to Open Science have led OpenCitations to cross a unique threshold: OpenCitations main database COCI (the OpenCitations Index of Crossref open DOI-to-DOI citations; https://opencitations.net/index/coci/)  currently contains more than one billion citation links derived from open references within Crossref and is approaching parity in terms of coverage with Web of Science and Scopus.

While it already contained the bibliographical data recently opened in Crossref by Elsevier and the American Chemical Society, COCI last release (August 2022) also includes citations from the articles published over the last four years by IEEE. The inclusion of previously-closed bibliographic data into COCI is a strong effect of an ongoing change in the academic practices, fostered by the dedication of many initiatives and institutions worldwide, and by Crossref’s recent announcement to change its reference distribution policy, by making all its metadata open. In addition, OpenCitations provides a data model, bibliographic and citation data (CC0), an open source software, online services, whose details and use can be found in the guide published by OpenAire, and on OpenCitations website.

Current and future activities

Moreover, throughout 2022 OpenCitations has started work to create a new database entitled OpenCitations Meta, which will permit OpenCitations to store in house bibliographic metadata for the citing and cited publications involved in all our indexed citations. OpenCitations is also starting the coverage expansion by developing two new citation indexes of open citations, based on the holdings of DataCite (DOCI) and the NIH Open Citation Collection (NOCI), which, together with COCI, will be cross-searchable through the unified OpenCitations API. Anyone interested in OpenCitations can learn more about its activities on the public roadmap, and by visiting the OpenCitations blog.

OpenCitations’ role within the OpenAIRE-Nexus project is that of providing open bibliographic citations, and interconnecting data and integrating functionalities with the OpenAIRE Research Graph and more OpenAIRE-Nexus services. While the integration of OpenCitations citation data into the OpenAIRE Research Graph has already been accomplished, the integration of the citations present in the OpenAIRE Research Graph in OpenCitations, and the integration of OpenCitations services into EpiSciences are still in progress.


The OpenAIRE Research Graph integration is beneficial for a wider and international community of users, including new RIs and other services. OpenCitations has recently been included within the EOSC Catalogue, and the interconnection with the other services present in the EOSC will become even more effective with the involvement of OpenCitations in the EOSC-DIH business pilot OiPub, a newly created platform which aims to “make research easier to find, follow and discuss”.

Participate in OpenCitations next event

OpenCitations is organizing the third edition of the Workshop on Open Citations and Open Scholarly Metadata, a theme-focused virtual space to share updates and challenges and to learn more about open scholarly data. The 2022 edition will be held online on October 5, 2022 (h. 15-18 CEST), and will focus on the themes of
  • Reforming research assessment with open citations and open scholarly metadata;
  • Artificial intelligence to support the extraction and analysis of citations and metadata;
  • Sustainability of open science infrastructures;
  • Availability of open citations and open scholarly metadata in scholarly disciplines.
Participation is free of charge and open to everyone. More information about the invited speakers and the program, as well as about the streaming platforms to participate in the event, will soon be published on the Workshop website

As OpenCitations Director Silvio Peroni recently stated: “OpenCitations is a plural. Together, we are OpenCitations.”

OpenCitations Mission: https://zenodo.org/record/6940563
OpenCitations - present status and future plans: https://zenodo.org/record/6940919
The Uniqueness of OpenCitations: https://zenodo.org/record/6940867
Support OpenCitations: https://opencitations.net/membership

Written by Chiara Di Giambattista 

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OpenAIRE has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under Grant Agreements No. 777541 and 101017452 (see all).

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