Initiative for Open Abstracts (I4OA): A Cross-Publisher Initiative to Promote Unrestricted Availability of Abstracts

The Initiative for Open Abstracts (I4OA) calls on all scholarly publishers to open the abstracts of their publications, and specifically to distribute them through Crossref, in order to facilitate large-scale access and promote discovery of critical research. I4OA—a collaboration between scholarly publishers, academic librarians, researchers, infrastructure providers and other stakeholders—was launched at the online conference of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) on September 24th. The initiative serves to advocate and promote the unrestricted availability of the abstracts of scholarly publications, particularly journal articles and book chapters.

MDPI is one of 40 publishers that have to date agreed to support I4OA and to make their abstracts openly available. I4OA is also supported by a large number of research funders, libraries and library associations, infrastructure providers, and open science organizations.

Many abstracts are already available in various bibliographic databases, but these sources have limitations, for example because they require a subscription, are not machine-accessible, or are restricted to a specific discipline. “Making abstracts available only for human (eyeball) reading on publisher websites is not sufficient” says Ludo Waltman, Deputy Director of Leiden University’s Centre for Science and Technology Studies and coordinator of I4OA.

Crossref is a not-for-profit infrastructure organization used by many publishers to register and share Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) for their publications.

“Crossref already has the capacity to bring abstracts together in a common format in one global, crossdisciplinary repository through an open API. At present however, publishers submit abstracts for only ~7% of the publications that we record”, says Ginny Hendricks, Director of Member & Community Outreach at Crossref.

I4OA calls on all scholarly publishers using Crossref to make their abstracts openly available by depositing them with Crossref. This can be done as part of established workflows that publishers already have in place for submitting publication metadata to Crossref.