[Taxacom] In defense of DOIs

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Mon Feb 15 18:17:40 CST 2010

>It's not "bioinformatics people" who drove the adoption of DOIs, it was publishers looking for a way to increase the value of their content through linking. Links mean greater traffic (e.g., through citations), as well as an improved experience for the reader (e.g. links that don't break)

Well, I don't know the history, but now publishers have a free alternative for greater traffic through linking - wasn't it you who pointed out a while ago that Zootaxa has many thousands of citations (and links) on Wikispecies/-pedia, all at no cost to them? Direct links to Zootaxa very rarely break.

>Viewing everything in terms of taxonomy runs the risk of missing the bigger picture
I agree, but it is unclear what the "bigger picture" is? Industries that manipulate primary information have their place (and Zoological Record is a particularly useful one IMO), but one could argue that there is simply far too much of that sort of thing going on in the world today...

Whenever I ask a straight question, nobody answers it, but here I go again:

what does GBIF have to offer that is different to what CoL has to offer that is different to what EoL has to offer, etc? Is what they offer worth the cost? In a world of rapidly disappearing biodiversity (in some parts, anyway), isn't it more sensible to "describe it before it is gone" as a priority? Wikispecies is there to integrate it all, not perfectly, but cheaply ...

From: Roderic Page [r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk]
Sent: Tuesday, 16 February 2010 12:30 p.m.
To: Stephen Thorpe
Subject: Re: In defense of DOIs

Dear Stephen,

It's not "bioinformatics people" who drove the adoption of DOIs, it
was publishers looking for a way to increase the value of their
content through linking. Links mean greater traffic (e.g., through
citations), as well as an improved experience for the reader (e.g.
links that don't break).

I suspect that breaking the link between DOI and publisher's page
would undermine the rationale for publisher's using DOIs - you want
them to have a stake in its success ( much the same arguments are
raised by biodiversity data providers who would that prefer
information on their specimens came from their site, rather than from
a third party like GBIF).

Viewing everything in terms of taxonomy runs the risk of missing the
bigger picture. If you want taxonomic publishing to be a first class
citizen of the modern world, then I'd argue that DOIs aren't a luxury,
they are a necessity.



Sent from my iPhone

On 15 Feb 2010, at 22:46, Stephen Thorpe <s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz>

> Hi Rod,
> I don't deny that DOIs are "useful", and indeed I use them on
> Wikispecies whenever possible, though to me they are useful
> primarily as links to publications, rather than as identifiers per
> se. The question though is whether they are useful ENOUGH to justify
> the huge expense? On that I (and notable others, as you know from
> the off-list discussion) am not so sure. Is it worthwhile for a
> publisher to do DOIs at the expense of taxonomic output? If Zootaxa
> could only publish say half of its current output with the added
> workload created by DOIs, would this be worthwhile? I would have
> more confidence in  DOIs as permanent links if they were independent
> of publishers, so a DOI actually linked to a page hosted by the DOI
> people, rather than to the publishers pages, and this could best be
> done with open access articles. Why should the publishers have to
> pay for DOIs when bioinformatics people are the ones who want the
> DOIs most? Just like the issue of all these global biodiversity
> databases - they are (perhaps) nice to have, but are they worth it?
> Do they facilitate more taxonomy, or do they compete with more
> taxonomy?
> Cheers,
> Stephen
> ________________________________________
> From: Roderic Page [r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk]
> Sent: Monday, 15 February 2010 11:15 p.m.
> Cc: Stephen Thorpe
> Subject: In defense of DOIs
> Dear Stephen,
> In one of your recent posts (http://markmail.org/message/fokdb5ipl2th2b4k
>  ) you "applaud Zootaxa for not wanting to enter into the DOI money-
> go-round, which would have resulted in less new taxonomy being
> published due to more time/money being wasted on pointless beauracracy
> [sic]."
> I'm as much against  pointless bureaucracy as anybody, but I'm not
> sure you are aware of the benefits DOIs bring to electronic
> publication. DOIs underpin stable citation linking in modern journals,
> and have several advantages over raw URLs.
> 1. Every time they changed web site technology there was a good chance
> URLs to articles would change, breaking existing links. DOIs hide this
> using indirection (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indirection ).
> 2. When publishers merge or are acquired (e.g., Wiley and Blackwell)
> the DOIs don't change, whereas the URLs to the articles do (publishers
> don't want their URLs "branded" with the names of former rivals that
> they have bought out). This means users can blissfully ignore who is
> publishing the content, the links "just work".
> 3. If the list of literature cited on an article web page use URLs,
> then a publisher is effectively branding their content with URLs to
> rival publishers. DOIs "hide" this, making linking much more palatable
> to publishers.
> But the real benefits come from the services provided by CrossRef (http://www.crossref.org
>  )that underlie DOIs. For example,
> 1. Given a DOI I can retrieve details about the publication (e.g.,
> article title, journal, etc.). No more typing bibliographies. This
> service has spawned a whole ecosystem of bibliographic tools such as http://www.connotea.org
> ,  http://citeulike.org, http://www.zotero.org, and http://www.mendeley.com
>  that make it easy to manage bibliographies online (these sites are
> also generating social networks of researchers on the back of this
> service).
> 2. Given article metadata I can find the DOI (if it exists). This
> service enables publishers to convert lists of papers cited to
> actionable links. It also enables sites such as Wikipedia to
> automatically convert citations into clickable links.
> But there is more. Given that when a publisher registers an article
> with CrossRef the publisher can submit a list of DOIs for the
> publications cited by that article, CrossRef can provide "forward
> linking", which means that for any article the publisher can list not
> only the papers cited, but who is citing that article.
> Imagine an article in Nature that cites a publication in, say,
> Zootaxa. At the moment, the Nature article has no link to the Zotaxa
> paper. The reader has to Google the paper. Furthermore, once they find
> the Zootaxa paper, the reader has no information on who has cited that
> paper. If I was a Zootaxa author, I'd love to know what papers were
> citing my work.
> I fully accept that DOIs add additional work load and cost to
> publication, and that these are not trivial considerations. But please
> don't dismiss DOIs as pointless bureaucracy. I'd argue DOIs have been
> an extraordinary success, and the academic publishing landscape would
> be a mess without them (or services that provided the same
> functionality).
> Lastly, imagine if we had similar services for the other things we
> care about, such as taxonomic names and specimens. Services that gave
> us metadata about these things, as well as told us how they are
> interrelated (e.g., this name was published in this article, this
> specimen is the holotype for this name, etc.). In other words,
> something like CrossRef for biology. This is why I'm in  biodiversity
> informatics -- I want a CrossRef for biodiversity.
> Regards
> Rod
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> Roderic Page
> Professor of Taxonomy
> Graham Kerr Building
> University of Glasgow
> Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
> Email: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
> Tel: +44 141 330 4778
> Fax: +44 141 330 2792
> AIM: rodpage1962 at aim.com
> Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1112517192
> Twitter: http://twitter.com/rdmpage
> Blog: http://iphylo.blogspot.com
> Home page: http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/rod/rod.html

More information about the Taxacom mailing list