Open Bibliographic Data at JISC and #jiscopenbib

I attended the Open Bibliographic Data meeting in London and came away very excited. Here are a few thoughts.

Although bibliography is often regarded as a dry subject it’s actually incredibly relevant. We were asked for a compelling use-case for bibliography to be presented to Vice-Chancellors. Here was my suggestion:

Universities compete against each other. They do it in large part through bibliography. Really? Yes! The RAE or REF or whatever metric is increasingly based on bibliography. The Universities that manage their bibliographies best will be more visible in all sorts of metrics. Soton and QUT have a concerted policy on exposing their research, and they succeed. So a modern bibliographic tool is a sine qua non for a VC. I’m serious. Here are some questions that an Open bibliography could make a lot of contribution to:

  • What subjects does my University publish?
  • Which departments co-publish?
  • Which other universities does mine co-publish with?
  • Which universities are starting to eat my lunch?

Open Bibliography can answer those!

So here are some ideas that the meeting has converged on, drafted by Paul Miller. They’re not final, but Paul’s style is wonderfully brief and I doubt I could improve on it:

Universities should proceed on the presumption that their bibliographic data should be freely available for use and reuse. […]The default position remains transparency, unless the risk assessment can compellingly argue otherwise.

Just use CC-BY for creative works. Just use ODC-PDDL for facts.

DO NOT USE ‘Non-Commercial,’

That is all there is to it. By using open approaches you don’t have to explain, qualify, niggle. It simply works.

Given that, we can now develop powerful tools that speak directly to the world, including vice-chancellors. And, with open data, and open source they are cheap to build.

And #jiscopenbib is already building them.

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