Blockchain offers a route to a true scholarly commons

“Elsevier’s acquisition of these open services highlights the prospect that companies will come to control the global scientific infrastructure. Even though the openness of the digital services and resources used by research is more and more taken for granted, the traditional web is not a public domain….

But there is another way, in the form of the decentralised web. Here, there are no central repositories; instead infrastructure is decentralised and information is distributed between countless different computers, accessible to all, in what are called peer-to-peer networks.

One example of this technology is BitTorrent. This allows the rapid transmission of large files by dividing them into chunks and allowing clients to load objects piece by piece, while at the same time making the already loaded pieces available to all other clients. Various initiatives, such as decentralised archive transport (DAT) and the interplanetary file system (IPFS), have adapted bit torrent for information sharing, replacing a centralised infrastructure of servers and clients with a decentralised network. In the decentralised web, trust is created not through trade names or URLs, but through cryptography….

Hosting content is no longer a special role that requires trustworthy institutions, service contracts and plausible business models. Rather, the objects are in the public domain, and their dissemination requires only the open protocols of the decentralised web. This paves the way for new business models, by opening up another area of the internet to the “permissionless innovation” that drove its development.

The benefits of such approaches for making digital objects available for research, teaching and digital cultural heritage are obvious. As well as technical improvements in the transmission and storage of information, the current situation of privileged players controlling access to content would be replaced with a true scholarly commons, distributed between many computer systems….

The impetus for the second step—complete disintermediation, doing away with centralised publishers in the same way that bitcoin renders banks unnecessary— is more likely to come from start-ups than incumbents. There are already decentralised peer-to-peer scholarly publishing platforms, for example Aletheia and Pluto. Decentralised social networking platforms, such as the Akasha Project, are also in development….”

ORCID Mandate Trial at Springer Nature | ORCID

“Springer Nature was one of the founding members of ORCID, and since 2012 we have encouraged our authors to submit verified ORCID identifiers and we display them on published papers. This ensures authors get credit for their publications, and contributes to improving the transparency of scholarly communication by disambiguating name homonyms. To further support the uptake of ORCID, in 2017 Springer Nature engaged in a trial mandating ORCID identifiers for corresponding authors of primary research manuscripts at 46 journals across our portfolios.

The trial ran from April 27 for 6 months and the mandate was applied at different stages of the manuscript processing: 14 Nature-branded research journals required iDs at acceptance, while 10 BioMed Central (BMC) and 22 Springer journals did so at initial submission. Corresponding authors were able to share their ORCID identifier in the manuscript tracking system (via the ORCID API); without this step the submission would not proceed to the next stage….”

Elsevier Collaborates with Hypothesis to Integrate Open Annotation – Hypothesis

“Today, Elsevier and Hypothesis are announcing a collaboration to align annotation capabilities in Elsevier’s Research Products with the emerging ecosystem of interoperable clients and services for annotation based on open standards and technologies.

Hypothesis is a nonprofit dedicated to the development of open annotation. Through its new open-source technology, academics and scientists are able to make notes on documents they are reading and share those notes with others. Elsevier is a world leading information analytics business specializing in science and health.

By working together, Elsevier and Hypothesis demonstrate two important shifts in scholarly communications: first, the growing role that annotation plays within the life cycle of research and publication; and second, that data standards and open frameworks are increasingly essential to scientific collaboration and progress….”

COAR Next Generation Repositories: Vision and Objectives


To position repositories as the foundation for a distributed, globally networked infrastructure for scholarly communication, on top of which layers of value added services will be deployed, thereby transforming the system, making it more research-centric, open to and supportive of innovation, while also collectively managed by the scholarly community.

Technical Vision

Our vision rests on making the resource, rather than the repository, the focus of services and infrastructure. Rather than relying on imprecise descriptive metadata to identify entities and the relationships between them, our vision relies on the idea inherent in the Web Architecture, where entities (known as “resources”) are accessible and identified unambiguously by URLs. In this architecture, it is the references which are copied between systems, rather than (as at present) the metadata records. Furthermore we encourage repository developers to automatize the metadata extraction from the actual resources as much as possible to simplify and lower the barrier to the deposit process.


  • To achieve a level of cross-repository interoperability by exposing uniform behaviours across repositories that leverage web-friendly technologies and architectures, and by integrating with existing global scholarly infrastructures specifically those aimed at identification of e.g. contributions, research data, contributors, institutions, funders, projects.
  • To encourage the emergence of value added services that use these uniform behaviours to support discovery, access, annotation, real-time curation, sharing, quality assessment, content transfer, analytics, provenance tracing, etc.
  • To help transform the scholarly communication system by emphasizing the benefits of collective, open and distributed management, open content, uniform behaviours, real-time dissemination, and collective innovation. “

Nebula Genomics: Blockchain-enabled genomic data sharing and analysis platform

“The first human genome was sequenced in 2001 at a cost of $3 billion. Today, human genome sequencing costs less than $1000, and in a few years the price will drop below $100. Thus, personal genome sequencing will soon be widely adopted as it enables better diagnosis, disease prevention, and personalized therapies. Furthermore, if genomic data is shared with researchers, the causes of many diseases will be identified and new drugs developed. These opportunities are creating a genomic data market worth billions of dollars….The Nebula peer-to-peer network will enable data buyers to acquire genomic data directly from data owners without middlemen. This will enable data owners to receive sequencing subsidies from data buyers and profit from sharing their data….”

Harvard Geneticist Launches DNA-Fueled Blockchain Startup

“Nebula Genomics will have its own coin and go head to head with and Google-backed 23andMe. George Church, a professor at Harvard and MIT, is taking a different tack than his genetics testing rivals. He’s developed a token-fueled system on the blockchain that monetizes DNA to incentivize members to participate in genome sequencing. It keeps personal DNA data in the hands of the individual — not big pharma — letting them choose if they want to share and monetize that data for research purposes….Based on Professor Church’s research, no other human genomics company even comes close to delivering on what Nebula Genomics can do….Professor Chruch points to open protocol that gives scientists the ability to “aggregate standardized data” across people and databases. It’s unclear whether he plans on launching an upcoming ICO.”


“IRUS-UK (Institutional Repository Usage Statistics UK) is a Jisc-funded national aggregation service, which provides COUNTER-conformant usage statistics for all content downloaded from participating UK institutional repositories (IRs)….

The service consolidates COUNTER-conformant statistics providing opportunities to demonstrate the value and impact of IRs:

  • facilitates comparable, standards-based measurements
  • provides an evidence base for repositories to develop policies and initiatives to help support their objectives
  • provides consistent and comprehensive statistics, presenting opportunities for benchmarking at a national level
  • developing a user community that will ensure that the service is responsive to user requirements….”

Editoria | Write, Edit, Compose, Collaborate

“Editoria™ is a web-based open source, end-to-end, authoring, editing and workflow tool that presses and library publishers can leverage to create modern, format-flexible, standards compliant, book-length works.  Funded by the Mellon Foundation, Editoria™ is a project of the University of California Press and the California Digital Library….”

NZGOAL (New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing) framework |

“NZGOAL is guidance for agencies to follow when releasing copyright works and non-copyright material for re-use by others.

It aims to standardise the licensing of government copyright works for re-use using Creative Commons licences and recommends statements for non-copyright material….”