Shared Values, Common Benefits: The ScienceOpen OA Book Metadata Project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Shared Values, Common Benefits: The ScienceOpen OA Book Metadata Project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research


To speed up the transformation to Open Access (OA), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will be funding 20 innovative projects over the next two years. We are proud to announce that ScienceOpen is participating with a project around Open Access book metadata for increased discoverability, and we would like to give a preview here of what we are working on.

As the ecosystem of book publishing continues to adhere more to traditional print processes, the industry’s infrastructures are developing new ways to improve the discovery and visibility of academic books content.

While publishers have been looking into additional outlets and platforms to represent, promote, or sell their print and e-publications portfolio, librarians and service providers are making great advances to overhaul their (e-)catalogues and databases. However, much of the book and monograph output still could do with a little boost in visibility and simplified communication between various the systems and platforms. OA books are essential for the transformation of the whole scholarly landscape, and one of the greatest advantages of open access for monographs is full, immediate accessibility. But even those sometimes suffer from a lack of available digitalized bibliographic data. Thus, discoverability of OA books can be lower because of missing metadata or due to missing portability and interoperability based on an incompatibility of formats or plain differences in requirements that prevent uptake in library catalogues and search portals or databases. In a nutshell: Books that cannot be found cannot be read.

Technical know-how can be a big challenge for libraries and researcher-led OA presses with little access to IT support.

A multitude of services often based on different data formats and technical specifications does not necessarily help in picking one’s way through a heterogeneous landscape. The ScienceOpen platform shall make metadata creation, management, and delivery an intuitive and easy to handle task for open access publishers to support best-practices and increase discoverability. Especially for fields of research where traditional print publications continue to fulfil a predominant role (such as the humanities, social sciences, or law), an improved ecosystem based on digitally standardized formats will not only facilitate data maintenance and augment interoperability but help overcome potential technical or financial barriers and allow for immediate distribution across the sector for cross-media publishing and longtime archiving.

ScienceOpen proposed a metadata hub that allows publishers to create rich, interoperable metadata all readily integrable with persistent IDs and easily translatable between systems to connect to the infrastructure of the scholarly publishing landscape to increase visibility, discoverability, and distribution of OA books and monographs:

The ScienceOpen OA Book Metadata Project

We are building a new environment with a free interface to create, maintain and enrich, or export available OA book metadata.

The user interface will enable smaller and mid-sized institutional scientific publishers, libraries or university presses to easily maintain and enrich their metadata. These stakeholders will be able to make use of a state-of-the-art system to create from scratch or enrich available input via an easy-to-use user interface storing data in versatile BITS XML format. Vice versa, an API will allow for data export in customary industry standards, such as BITS, MARC, ONIX, or Crossref, to facilitate compatibility with and extensive distribution across various databases and repositories and will guarantee compliance with common standards and best practices.

A preview of essential additions to the metadata set as envisioned to boost open access book discoverability:

  • DOI (Digital Object Identifier)
    • Track publications throughout their lifecycle of various formats, editions, platforms, or versions
  • Chapter-DOIs – connected to book title
    • Browse chapter pages with rich metadata connected via a TOC menu
    • Chapter-DOIs as additional links back to your content
  • OA licenses
    • Machine-readability to guarantee OA publications will be detected across the landscape
  • Copyright details
  • Book-level abstracts (in English and original language of publication)
    • Help to reach wider audiences and researchers to evaluate best fits
    • Abstracts as essential data for many machine-learning and AI systems
  • Chapter-level abstracts (in English and original language of publication)
    • Easy enrichment on all book-levels
  • Funding details (Funder, Funder-IDs, Grant no.)
  • Institution/Affiliation
    • Add more insight to the context around a publication
  • ORCID ID (authors/editors)
    • Add persistent IDs
  • Open references 
    • Why keep them under wraps—increase your citation metrics instead
  • Open Reviews
    • Add transparency to the workflow
    • Credit the review community
  • Open Data Linking
    • Better reproducibility
    • Better transparency
    • Less redundancy

ScienceOpen as a discovery platform is particularly well-suited to create a Book Metadata Hub.

With over 3 million book and chapter records aggregated, we have years of experience working firsthand with university presses, publishers, and institutions to help provide them additional usage and enrich the context around their publications. Integrated within our freely accessible, interactive research database of almost 70 million records, the ScienceOpen dynamic search allows users to finely comb through records with an ample range of filter and search options. Additionally, publication and usage metrics across every record, user, or publisher page embed all output directly within the context of the larger science community.

The potential benefits for the sector seem as obvious as they are comprehensive: Stakeholders lacking in either the required infrastructure, skills, or human resources will be instantly equipped to publish state-of-the-art open access manuscripts or books with rich metadata to reach the widest audiences.

Stephanie Dawson, PhD, ScienceOpen CEO

Stakeholder Workshop

To kick off our new project we are also organizing a workshop around OA book publishing for the various stakeholders from the scholarly communications landscape to come together and share their experiences and tribulations. A first step to ensure this new service will yield the greatest possible benefit and practical utility for the academic research community and our customer base as it will be hand-tailored to actual needs.

Stay tuned, it will be an exciting year!

Featured Image Credit: Jessica Duensing via Flickr.

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