Crossref Labs is the dedicated R&D arm of Crossref. In late 2021 we announced that we are re-energizing Labs after a period of working mostly on development tasks.
What’s our focus?
The division between what the R&D group does at the group-level, and what the wider organisation does will always be more of a gradient than a line. But at the highest level we’d say that R&D will focus on projects that:
- Address new constituencies.
- Involve fundamentally new approaches (technology or process or both).
- Are exploratory with no clear product application yet.
And that a “strategic initiative” (as opposed to a new feature, service, or product) is something that:
- Involves something we’ve never done before.
- Involves potential changes to our membership model and fees.
- Would require a large investment of resources outside of normal budget.
We’re certainly not the only group at Crossref who experiment, build proof of concepts (POCs), and do research, but we hope to support other groups who do - both inside our organization and in the wider research ecosystem.
Sound right up your street? Interested in collaborating on something you’re working on? Let us know.
What are we working on now?
We’re experimenting with tracking current and planned work on via GitLab so you can see projects there. A few current highlights are:
- Playing around with how we might evolve our Participation Reports.
- Trying to ‘fingerprint’ member landing pages to see things like what metadata currently exists there and identify and report on anomalies and instances of bad practice (DOIs not resolving, multiple redirects etc.)
- Conversations about how we might crowdsource retraction information.
- Looking at how we can extend the classification information we currently make available via our API across more journal titles.
- Exploring how we currently do citation matching with a view to evolving this approach i.e. making it better, more transparent and open to community contributions.
- Working on a tool to make it easier for members to redeposit metadata i.e. returning it in a format that can be copied, pasted and redeposited (more squirrelly than you think).
This planning board is also linked to via Crossref’s public roadmap:
And our plan is for these to integrate more closely in future, especially for Labs projects that ‘graduate’.
Graduated to production services (or became part of them)
Once upon a time, PLOS ran a project called Article Level Metrics (ALM). It worked well for them internally and had garnered interest and support from other organizations. It had enough potential that we decided to pick it up as a Labs project. The idea was to collect information from various online sources mentioning their DOIs, a version of altmetrics.
The project had a couple of aims:
- Scale effectively beyond one publisher to all Crossref DOIs.
- Work out what would be needed to create a production version of such a tool.
The output was intended to be open data to provide context around outputs, while avoiding creating yet another set of metrics. If successful, it had the potential to centralise collection of this kind of data, providing significant efficiencies to publisher and sources. Read more about the early stages of the project at [https://www-crossref-org.turing.library.northwestern.edu/blog/many-metrics-such-data-wow/].
The initial experimenting proved successful and by Spring 2014 we were in a position to run a pilot with the cooperation of a number of organisations. The project had become the DOI Event Tracker (DET), which built on Lagotto, the successor of ALM. Read about the DET pilot at [https://www-crossref-org.turing.library.northwestern.edu/blog/det-poised-for-launch/].
DET was now ready to be passed over to the production team and in 2017 entered a beta phase.
It has continued as Crossref Event Data, with over 800 million events collected (up until October 2021) and available via a public API.