Posted by: bluesyemre | September 24, 2020

#I4OA (Initiative for Open Abstracts)

The Initiative for Open Abstracts (I4OA) is a collaboration between scholarly publishers, infrastructure organizations, librarians, researchers and other interested parties to advocate and promote the unrestricted availability of the abstracts of the world’s scholarly publications, particularly journal articles and book chapters, in trusted repositories where they are open and machine-accessible. I4OA calls on all scholarly publishers to open the abstracts of their published works, and where possible to submit them to Crossref.

The benefits of open abstracts

Abstracts summarize the content of scholarly publications, and their wide availability acts as advertisement, boosting discoverability and drawing readers to the full text. Making the abstracts openly available thus helps scholarly publishers to maximize the visibility and impact of their journals and books; makes it easier for scholars to discover, read and then cite these publications; promotes their inclusion in systematic reviews; expands and simplifies the use of text mining, natural language processing and artificial intelligence techniques in bibliometric analyses; and facilitates scholarship across all disciplines by those without subscription access to commercial bibliographic services.

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. Availability of abstracts on publishers’ websites is of limited use, because this does not facilitate large-scale reuse of abstracts, because machine access is highly variable if available at all, and because ‘scraping’ them off the web is problematic. Making abstracts available only for human (eyeball) reading is not sufficient. Crossref, the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) registration agency used by many publishers, has the great advantage of bringing abstracts together in a common format in one searchable cross-disciplinary database where they are available via an API.

While open access to the full text of all scholarly publications is a major goal of the Open Science movement, I4OA believes that the centralized availability of open abstracts has particular advantages and is more immediately achievable. For further discussion of this issue, see our responses to Frequently Asked Questions.

What about copyright?

The abstract of a publication is the literary textual creation of the authors, and, therefore, falls naturally under the copyright of the author or their institution, which may subsequently be transferred to the publisher. In this regard, the abstract is no different from the full text, and differs from the bibliographic metadata for the publication and the bibliographic references it contains, which are collections of facts that cannot be copyrighted.

Whoever owns copyright, the normal practice of academic publishers is to make abstracts free to read. In addition to putting the abstracts of publications on their web sites outside any subscription paywall (for an example, see here), publishers may also send abstracts to abstracting/indexing services and bibliographic databases such as PubMed and Crossref, where they are made openly available (for examples, see here and here). While the abstracts republished in this way still fall under copyright, sending abstracts to such databases gives them maximum exposure and attracts readers to the full text of publications.

Publishers supporting I4OA

The following publishers, of both subscription-access and open-access academic journals and books, have joined I4OA at the time of its launch. Many of these publishers already make abstracts openly available by depositing them in Crossref. Others have made the commitment to start doing so soon. If you are a publisher and you want to join I4OA, please contact us by sending a message to

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)Beilstein-Institut
British AcademyBritish Institute of Radiology
Cambridge University Press (CUP)Copernicus
EDP ScienceseLife
European Respiratory Society (ERS)F1000
FrontiersGeological Society of London
International Union of Crystallography (IUCr)IWA Publishing
Leibniz-Institute for Psychology Information (ZPID)MDPI
MIT PressPeerJ
Portland Press (Biochemical Society)Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
Public Library of Science (PLOS)Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of PsychiatristsRTI Press
S. KargerSAGE
Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz Center for Informatics (LZI)The Company of Biologists
The Royal SocietyThomas Telford (Institution of Civil Engineers)
Ubiquity PressUCL Press
University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) ePressWalter de Gruyter

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: