Initiative for Open Citations

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Initiative for Open Citations
Abbreviation I4OC
Legal status Active
Purpose Unrestricted availability of scholarly citation data

The Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) is a project launched publicly in April 2017,[1][2][3][4][5][6] that describes itself as:[7][8]

a collaboration between scholarly publishers, researchers, and other interested parties to promote the unrestricted availability of scholarly citation data and to make these data available.

It is intended to facilitate improved citation analysis.


The citations are stored in Crossref and are made available through the Crossref REST API. They are also available from the OpenCitations Corpus, a database that harvests citation data from Crossref and other sources.[9] The data are considered by the those involved in the Initiative to be in the public domain, and so a CC0 licence is used.[5]

The stated benefits of this approach are:[9]

  • discoverability of published content
  • the building of new services
  • creation of a public citation graph to explore connections between knowledge fields.


The initiative was established in response to a paper on citations in Wikidata, Citations needed for the sum of all human knowledge: Wikidata as the missing link between scholarly publishing and linked open data, given by Dario Taraborelli, head of research at the Wikimedia Foundation, at the eighth Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing, in September 2016.[5] At that time, only 1% of papers in Crossref had citations metadata that were freely available. By the time of the public launch, on 6 April 2017, that had risen to 40% as a result of setting up the initiative.[6]

The founding partners were:[10]

At the time of launch, 64 organisations, including the Wellcome Trust, the Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation,[5] had endorsed the project and as of May, 2017, Sloan Foundation confirmed it would be providing funding.[11] 29 of these organisations were publishers who had agreed to share their citation metadata openly.[2] These include Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley.[6] A notable exception was Elsevier, who contribute 30% of the citation metadata in Crossref.[6] Elsevier's vice-president of corporate relations, Tom Reller, said:[1]

We are aware of the initiative but want to learn more before making a decision on whether to participate.

On 11 July 2017, the Initiative announced that a further sixteen publishers had signed up.[12] On 8 August 2017, the Initiative released on open letter to stakeholders.[13] The same month, the British Library became a member organisation.[14]


  1. ^ a b Schiermeier, Quirin (6 April 2017). "Initiative aims to break science's citation paywall". Nature. doi:10.1038/nature.2017.21800. ISSN 1476-4687. 
  2. ^ a b Treanor, Kim (6 April 2017). "New Large-Scale Initiative Aims To Increase Open Access To Scholarly Research". Intellectual Property Watch. Retrieved 6 April 2017. 
  3. ^ Taraborelli, Dario; Dugan, Jonathan (6 April 2017). "How we know what we know: The Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) helps unlock millions of connections between scholarly research". Wikimedia Blog. Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 6 April 2017. 
  4. ^ "Global Coalition Pushes for Unrestricted Sharing of Scholarly Citation Data". Creative Commons. 6 April 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d Chawla, Dalmeet Singh (6 April 2017). "Now free: citation data from 14 million papers, and more might come". Science. doi:10.1126/science.aal1012. 
  6. ^ a b c d Molteni, Megan (6 April 2017). "The Initiative for Open Citations Is Tearing Down Science's Citation Paywall, One Link At A Time". Wired. Retrieved 8 April 2017. 
  7. ^ "I4OC: Initiative for Open Citations". Initiative for Open Citations. 6 April 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2017. 
  8. ^ "Opening Up Research Citations: A Q&A with Dario Taraborelli | Wiley". Retrieved 2017-08-09. 
  9. ^ a b "FAQ". Initiative for Open Citations. Retrieved 6 April 2017. 
  10. ^ "Press". Initiative for Open Citations. 6 April 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2017. 
  11. ^ Shotton, David (2017-05-15). "The Sloan Foundation funds OpenCitations". OpenCitations. Retrieved 2017-05-21. 
  12. ^ "Availability of open reference data nears 50% as major societies and influential publishers endorse the Initiative for Open Citations". : Initiative for Open Citations. Retrieved 11 July 2017. 
  13. ^ I4OC. "I4OC: Initiative for Open Citations - Press". Retrieved 2017-08-08. 
  14. ^ "I4OC: The British Library and open data - Science blog". British Library . Retrieved 30 August 2017. 

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