A couple of weeks ago I was reading a post by Will Griffiths on the ChemSpider Open Chemistry Web blog about how the DOI citation system of journal article lookups might be improved. The DOI system basically assigns each research paper a unique number depending, with an embedded publisher tag. Enter a DOI into a look up box (e.g. the DOI lookup on Sciencebase, foot of that page) and it almost instantaneously takes you to the paper in question. I use the DOI system for references in Sciencebase posts all the time.
There are a few cons that counteract its various pros, for instance, not all publishers use it and among those that do there are some who do not implement the DOI for their papers until they are in print, as opposed to online. Despite that it is very useful and commonly used. Having read Griffiths’ post about OpenURL a non-proprietary DOI alternative, I thought maybe it would be even more powerful if the concept were taken back another step the author level and I came up with the concept of a PaperID, which I blogged about on Chemspy.com. PaperID, I reasoned could be a unique identification tag for a reasearch paper, created by the author using a central open system (akin to the InChI code for labelling individual compounds). I’m still working out the ins and outs of this concept and while a few correspondents have spotted potentially fatal flaws others see it as a possible way forward.
Meanwhile, CrossRef, the association behind the publisher linking network, has just announced a beta version of a plugin for bloggers that can look up and insert DOI-enabled citations in a blog post. I’ve not investigated the plugin in detail yet, but you can download from a Crossref page at Sourceforge.net. the Crossref plugin apparently allows bloggers to add a widget to search CrossRef metadata using citations or partial citations. The results of the search, with multiple hits, are displayed and you then either click on a hit to go to the DOI, or click on an icon next to the hit to insert the citation into their blog entry. I presume they’re using plugin and widget in the accepted WordPress glossary sense of those words as the plugin is available only for WordPress users at the moment with a MoveableType port coming soon.
According to Geoffrey Bilder, CrossRef’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, “CrossRef is helping jumpstart the process of citing the formal literature from blogs. While there is a growing trend in scientific and academic blogging toward referring to formally published literature, until now there were few guidelines and very few tools to make that process easy.” Well that reference to a jumpstart sounds like marketing-speak to me, as Sciencebase and dozens of other science blogs have been using DOI for years.
Whether or not I will get around to installing what amounts to yet another WordPress plugin I haven’t decided. I may give it a go, but if it works as well as is promised you will hopefully not see the join. Meanwhile, let me have your thoughts on the usefulness of DOI and the potential of OpenURL and PaperID in the usual place below.