It’s difficult to overstate the importance of citations. At first look, they’re a list of publications at the bottom of a page, but at scale they represent the building blocks of scientific knowledge in its entirety. Traditionally there hasn’t been a way to access 99% of these citation data without paying for it. Here’s where the Initiative for Open Citations (i4OC) comes in. Launched last week, i4OC serves to promote the availability of structured, separable and open scholarly citation data.
We are one of 29 publishers that have committed to making our citation data free and open for all. The mechanism by which we’re making these data free is through Crossref’s Cited-By service. This is already happening for citations on our 60+ specialist journals, and The BMJ will follow suit soon.
Opening up this information will create a global public web of linked scholarly data, provide the ability to build new services to benefit us as publishers, researchers, funders, institutions, and the public, and will allow for exploration of connections between scientific fields. To put this into context for medical research, this represents a step towards a healthier world.