Initiative for Open Abstracts launches to promote discovery of research

A new cross-publisher initiative calls for unrestricted availability of abstracts to boost the discovery of research.
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The following announcement has been issued today by the Initiative for Open Abstracts. eLife is pleased to be a supporting publisher.


The Initiative for Open Abstracts (I4OA) calls on all scholarly publishers to open the abstracts of their publications, and specifically to distribute them through Crossref, in order to facilitate large-scale access and promote discovery of critical research. I4OA – a collaboration between scholarly publishers, academic librarians, researchers, infrastructure providers and other stakeholders – launched today at the online conference of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA).

I4OA has been established to advocate and promote the unrestricted availability of the abstracts of scholarly publications, particularly journal articles and book chapters.

Stuart Taylor, Director of Publishing at the Royal Society, says: “Abstracts summarise the content of scholarly publications, and their wide availability will boost discoverability and draw readers, both human and machine, to the full text.”

Making abstracts openly available thus helps scholarly publishers to maximise the visibility and reach of their journals and books. Open abstracts make 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.

“Bringing the abstracts from many publishers and from multiple disciplines together without these restrictions will enable new kinds of discovery tools and analyses, without requiring us to individually scrape millions of article pages at thousands of publisher websites,” says Vincent Larivière, Professor of Information Sciences at l’Université de Montréal.

“Making abstracts available only for human (eyeball) reading on publisher websites is not sufficient,” adds Ludo Waltman, Deputy Director of Leiden University’s Centre for Science and Technology Studies, and coordinator of I4OA.

Crossref is a not-for-profit infrastructure organisation used by many publishers to register and share Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) for their publications.

“Crossref already has the capacity to bring abstracts together in a common format in one global, cross-disciplinary repository through an open API. At present however, publishers submit abstracts for only ~7% of the publications that we record,” says Ginny Hendricks, Director of Member & Community Outreach at Crossref.

I4OA calls on all scholarly publishers using Crossref to make their abstracts openly available by depositing them with Crossref. This can be done as part of established workflows that publishers already have in place for submitting publication metadata to Crossref.

Already, 34 publishers, listed below, have agreed to support I4OA and to submit their abstracts to Crossref. Support for I4OA has also been expressed by over 50 other stakeholders, also listed below, including global research funders, libraries and library associations, infrastructure providers and open science organisations, demonstrating the importance and relevance of this Initiative to the scholarly community.

I4OA was inspired by the success of the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC), which encourages the submission of references to Crossref. Since the launch of I4OC in 2017, over 2,000 scholarly publishers have chosen to make the reference lists of their journal articles and book chapters openly available through Crossref. I4OA aims to replicate the success of I4OC by achieving a rapid jump in the open availability of scholarly abstracts via Crossref.

Mandy Hill, Managing Director of Academic Publishing at Cambridge University Press, says: “Authors’ abstracts are a key tool for literature discovery, and we’re delighted to support this initiative to create a high-quality corpus of freely accessible abstracts in Crossref.”

Stephanie Paalvast, Head of Open Research at Brill, says: “At Brill we are already experiencing the advantages of opening up abstracts on the impact of the research we publish. It has helped our authors to receive more downloads, our journals to become more visible; and supports institutional and funder ambitions for open metadata. We are delighted to join the efforts of I4OA to maximise the uptake of this practice across the publishing industry, and ultimately contribute to enhanced access and impact.”

Stephanie Dawson, CEO of ScienceOpen, adds: “I strongly support the efforts of I4OA to make abstracts freely accessible alongside article metadata. Already many publishers are convinced that it is in the best interest of authors and journals to open their abstracts, as it leads to more views and greater impact of their work. I4OA is exactly what we need now to raise awareness of the advantages for publishers of open abstracts and to promote metadata best practices.”


Further information may be obtained from an I4OA launch webinar on October 5, 2020, at 4pm CEST (register at, from the I4OA website at, by emailing Ludo Waltman, coordinator of I4OA, at, or by following @open_abstracts on Twitter.

I4OA team

  • Helen Duce (SAGE)
  • Ginny Hendricks (Crossref)
  • Bianca Kramer (Utrecht University)
  • Vincent Larivière (Université de Montréal)
  • Catriona J. MacCallum (Hindawi Ltd)
  • Cameron Neylon (Curtin University)
  • Silvio Peroni (OpenCitations and University of Bologna)
  • David Shotton (OpenCitations and University of Oxford)
  • Cassidy R. Sugimoto (Indiana University Bloomington and International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics)
  • Aaron Tay (Singapore Management University)
  • Stuart Taylor (The Royal Society)
  • Bryan Vickery (Crossref)
  • Ludo Waltman (Leiden University)

Founding publishers

  • Hindawi Ltd
  • SAGE
  • The Royal Society

Supporting publishers (last updated: September 15th 2020)

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • Beilstein Institut
  • Brill
  • British Academy
  • British Institute of Radiology
  • Cambridge University Press (CUP)
  • De Gruyter
  • EDP Sciences
  • eLife
  • European Mathematical Society
  • European Respiratory Society (ERS)
  • Frontiers
  • F1000
  • Geological Society of London
  • International Union of Crystallography (IUCr)
  • IWA Publishing
  • Leibniz-Institute for Psychology Information (ZPID)
  • MDPI
  • MIT Press
  • PeerJ
  • 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 Psychiatrists
  • RTI Press
  • S. Karger
  • The Company of Biologists
  • Thomas Telford (Institution of Civil Engineers)
  • Ubiquity Press
  • University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) ePress

Supporting stakeholders (last updated: September 15th 2020)

  • Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
  • AmeliCA
  • ASAPbio
  • Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER)
  • Association of Research Libraries
  • Association of Research Managers and Administrators UK (ARMA UK)
  • Austrian Science Fund (FWF)
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • British Library
  • California Digital Library (CDL)
  • Center for Open Science
  • CiteSeerX
  • cOAlition S
  • Coko Foundation
  • Confederation of Open Access Repositories
  • ContentMine
  • CORE
  • DataCite
  • DBLP
  • Digital Science
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
  • Dryad
  • Dutch Research Council (NWO)
  • Eigenfactor
  • Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL)
  • Érudit
  • EuropePMC
  • Fair Open Access Alliance
  • FORCE11
  • Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication
  • International Network of Research Management Societies (INORMS)
  • Lens
  • Max Planck Digital Library (MPDL)
  • Metadata 2020
  • Microsoft Research
  • Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA)
  • Open Knowledge Maps
  • OPEn Research Analytics (OPERA)
  • OpenAIRE
  • Our Research
  • Redalyc
  • Research Council of Norway (RCN)
  • Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)
  • Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition Europe (SPARC Europe)
  • SciELO
  • ScienceOpen
  • SciTech Strategies
  • Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
  • TIB – Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology and University Library
  • Ukrainian Citation Index
  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Wellcome Trust

Media contacts

  1. Emily Packer


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