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In computing, Research Objects describes an emerging method for the identification, aggregation and exchange of scholarly information on the Web. The primary goal of the research object approach is to provide a mechanism to associate together related resources about a scientific investigation so that they can be shared together using a single identifier. As such, research objects are an advanced form of Enhanced Publication.
Current implementations build upon existing Web technologies and methods including Linked Data, HTTP, URIs, Open Archives Initiative Object Reuse and Exchange (OAI-ORE) and the Open Annotation model, as well as existing approaches for identification and knowledge representation in the scientific domain including Digital Object Identifiers for documents, ORCID identifiers for people, and the Investigation, Study, and Assay (ISA) data model.
Background and motivation
The research object approach is primarily motivated by a desire to improve reproducibility of scientific investigations. Central to the proposal is need to share research artifacts commonly distributed across specialist repositories on the Web including supporting data, software executables, source code, presentation slides, presentation videos.
Research Objects are not one specific technology but are instead guided by a set of principles. Specifically research objects are guided by three principles of identity, aggregation and annotation:
- Identity - Use unique identifiers as names for things, such as DOIs for publications or data, and ORCID ids for researchers.
- Aggregation - Use some form of aggregation to associated related things together that are part of the broader study, investigation etc. so that others may more readily discover those related resources.
- Annotation - Provide additional metadata about those things, how they relate to each other, where they come from, how they were produced etc.
A number of communities are an actively developing the research object concept.
Research Objects for Scholarly Communication (ROSC) W3C activity
A W3C community group entitled the Research Objects for Scholarly Communication (ROSC) Community Group was started in April 2013. The community charter states that the goals of the ROSC activity are : "to exchange requirements and expectations for supporting a new form of scholarly communication"
The Community Group aims to produce the following types of deliverables:
- Use cases for the representation, publishing, and exchange of research objects on the Web
- Requirements and desiderata distilled from the use cases.
- A Survey of related work on supporting the representation, publishing, and exchange of research objects.
- Various best practices and guidelines towards a community-wide practice of sharing, citing, and exchanging of research objects
The Mozilla Science Foundation have initiated an activity in collaboration with GitHub and figshare to develop "Code as research object". The initial proposal of the activity is to allow users to transfer code from a GitHub repository to figshare, and provide that code with a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), providing a permanent record of the code that can be cited in future publications.