Sunday, September 30, 2007

DOIs in the References Cited Section

I just read a recent post by Ed Pentz (Executive Director of CrossRef) who alerted his readers to some recent changes to recommended American Medical Association and American Psychological Association style guides. Ed also provides two examples. Essentially, a string like "doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2006.09.002" is to be tagged at the end of each reference (if these dois exist) in the literature cited section of journals that use AMA or APA styles. Cool! It would be a snap to write a JavaScript to recognize "doi:" on a page and magically add the "" and I have no doubt publishers can do something similar prior to producing PDF reprints. Ed seemed puzzled by the exclusion of "", but this is a really smart move by the AMA and the APA. DOIs afterall are URNs so it's best to avoid any confusion. If paper publishers want to make these actionable, then they can do so. If web publishers want to do the same, then a simple little JavaScript can do it.

So, what we need now are style editors to pick-up this recommedation across the board in all journals in all disciplines. This simple addition would do a world of good for human discoverability and for machine consumption/repurposing. It shouldn't just be a recommendation, it should be mandatory.

Hopefully, this will step-up the drive for including XMP metadata within PDF reprints. It may be a pain for authors to track down DOIs if they're not stamped on the covering page (usually hovering around the abstract or the very top of the page) and consequently, adoption of this new recommendation may be rather slow. If the DOI were embedded in the XMP, then reference managers like EndNote and RefMan will naturally read these metadata. In other words, building your reference collection would be as simple as dropping a PDF in a watched file folder and letting your reference manager do the rest. This would also open the door to zero local copies of PDFs or an intelligent online storage system. EndNote and RefMan need only have the DOI and they can pull the rest using CrossRef's DOI look-up services.

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