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Reference tracking

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Reference tracking

Postby cbdilger » Wed Jul 02, 2008 9:54 am

Hi there,

We're testing an installation of OJS and I'm wondering if anyone's tried to implement a form of reference tracking or works citing, where texts which cite an article are tracked in some way. For example, the CCC Online Archive uses Movable Type as a CMS and trackbacks provide this functionality. Here's an example. I'm open to pretty much any ideas here and not afraid of trying to hack something out myself. There's at least one discussion in these forums on the subject, and I'd love to hear about any ongoing work.

Thanks,
Bradley
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Re: Reference tracking

Postby mj » Mon Jul 07, 2008 2:11 pm

Hi Bradley,

The functionality you're describing is usually referred to in the journal world as "reverse citation" or "forward linking" -- depends on where you're looking at it from, I guess. It requires a couple of specific technical items: a unique identifier and some citation (indexing) metadata, in particular. CrossRef does this with DOIs in their system since they require all citations to be submitted with the corresponding DOI if one is available.

Although we haven't started development on this yet, it should be able to implement this within an OJS instance in two ways:

  1. intra-journal citation linking; if you look, this is the case of trackbacks within CCC Online. This should be fairly straightforward if each article in OJS has a public ID (although a surrogate like the URL or article ID could possibly be used as an alternative/fallback). Since a single OJS instance already contains all of the metadata for any internally-cited articles, the main issue is embedding forward links into the article content. This is limited by the galley format, ie. replacing/adding URLs in HTML galleys, or using an XML-based galley rendering system to do the same. It might not be possible to embed forward links into PDF galleys, however.
  2. inter-journal citation linking; the same issue with unique identifiers exists as above, which again might be sufficient to rely on journal URLs (assuming they're permanent). The second issue is in accessing article metadata, which should be accessing in OJS journals via the OAI interface. The same issues for embedding links into galleys exist, so overall it's only slightly more complicated than the above example.

We haven't had a lot of demand for such a feature, but if it would be of value to a number of journals out there -- particularly if it helps cross-pollination between cited OJS journals -- then it's certainly something we'd be willing to look into in a future release of OJS.

Hope this helps,
MJ
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Re: Reference tracking

Postby mcrider » Mon Jul 07, 2008 3:21 pm

Hi all,

Well, pretty much all the big blogging and CMS suites have trackback code built in, or as plugins, so there is a lot of code out there to work off of... I did some work with trackbacks myself on WordPress. And yes, there are definitely different ways of approaching this problem, whether it be for intra-journal or inter-journal purposes. Given that we could find some good code to work off of, I think it would be easier to implement the inter-journal trackback functionality (which could work just as well within a journal), and would be much more interesting anyway. I can see something like what CCC Online does, but with citations from any OJS installation that uses the same trackback plugin.

Anyways, I think its definitely worth looking into for the future, in my opinion.

Cheers,
Matt

P.s. there is a major issue with spam when it comes to trackbacks, which is a definite caveat with this functionality.
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Re: Reference tracking

Postby cbdilger » Sat Jul 12, 2008 2:16 pm

Thank you for the feedback. As a reader and professor I am very interested in this feature; I want to see my sources' sources, and I want students who do too. It's wonderful to be able to click through a web of citation, and I really appreciate services such as the ACM Portal which provide forward linking as well as traditional citations.

I haven't researched DOIs very much, though I do value articles which use them. If I read the DOI materials correctly, I'm not sure if they are within our reach budget-wise (we are a fairly small journal in the humanities, specifically in writing studies). MJ, could you say more about the metadata forward linking would require? Is that data included in OJS articles as currently presented?

Implementing this as a plugin is smart. I like the trackback/pingback model, too (though the spam is very annoying) because it doesn't require editing back issues to admit forward links, and it allows a variety of incoming sources. From a configuration perspective, it also makes sense: the default could be intra-journal linking only (accept trackbacks from referring site). Inter-journal linking would accept trackbacks from any site, or from a whitelist of approved journals.

I haven't gotten too deep into the OJS codebase yet, but I'll check out the documentation and see if I think writing a prototype plugin is something I could manage.
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Re: Reference tracking

Postby mj » Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:25 am

Hi Bradly,

For what it's worth, we've been discussing this kind of "intelligent linking" feature in detail lately among the PKP group, and it seems like a natural fit with our work as part of the Synergies project. Your reference to the ACM portal and click-through is exactly the kind of feature we'd like to support, and at the moment, it looks like the OpenURL system (something we've considered embedding in the past) is the front-runner for our approach.

The full OpenURL specification is somewhat lengthy, but there are a few overview papers; basically, it can contain any set of metadata available (although 1.0 spec is based on the Dublin Core profile) -- so, if DOIs are available, they can be used, but they are certainly not required. We definitely want to implement a system that doesn't require subscribing to any particular ID framework, while supporting those who are using them.

Linkback systems are somewhat limited in that they aren't really designed to support the kind of rich metadata that scholarly citations require; but the approach is sound and might make a good conceptual starting point. We also have the Open Archives Harvester, which might be a good candidate to add OpenURL resolution functionality to. The main challenge is maintaining authority in a decentralized approach, and by building OpenURL linking into the PKP suite, we'd be providing a self-assembling framework that also supports an existing bibliographic standard.

It's still in early discussion stages right now, but one way or another we'll certainly be building this kind of functionality into upcoming releases.

MJ
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Re: Reference tracking

Postby cbdilger » Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:42 am

MJ, good news. Thanks for pointing this framework out; I'll definitely read up on it.
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