Linked Research on the Decentralised Web

Abstract:  This thesis is about research communication in the context of the Web. I analyse literature which reveals how researchers are making use of Web technologies for knowledge dissemination, as well as how individuals are disempowered by the centralisation of certain systems, such as academic publishing platforms and social media. I share my findings on the feasibility of a decentralised and interoperable information space where researchers can control their identifiers whilst fulfilling the core functions of scientific communication: registration, awareness, certification, and archiving.

The contemporary research communication paradigm operates under a diverse set of sociotechnical constraints, which influence how units of research information and personal data are created and exchanged. Economic forces and non-interoperable system designs mean that researcher identifiers and research contributions are largely shaped and controlled by third-party entities; participation requires the use of proprietary systems.

From a technical standpoint, this thesis takes a deep look at semantic structure of research artifacts, and how they can be stored, linked and shared in a way that is controlled by individual researchers, or delegated to trusted parties. Further, I find that the ecosystem was lacking a technical Web standard able to fulfill the awareness function of research communication. Thus, I contribute a new communication protocol, Linked Data Notifications (published as a W3C Recommendation) which enables decentralised notifications on the Web, and provide implementations pertinent to the academic publishing use case. So far we have seen decentralised notifications applied in research dissemination or collaboration scenarios, as well as for archival activities and scientific experiments.

Another core contribution of this work is a Web standards-based implementation of a clientside tool, dokieli, for decentralised article publishing, annotations and social interactions. dokieli can be used to fulfill the scholarly functions of registration, awareness, certification, and archiving, all in a decentralised manner, returning control of research contributions and discourse to individual researchers.

The overarching conclusion of the thesis is that Web technologies can be used to create a fully functioning ecosystem for research communication. Using the framework of Web architecture, and loosely coupling the four functions, an accessible and inclusive ecosystem can be realised whereby users are able to use and switch between interoperable applications without interfering with existing data.

Technical solutions alone do not suffice of course, so this thesis also takes into account the need for a change in the traditional mode of thinking amongst scholars, and presents the Linked Research initiative as an ongoing effort toward researcher autonomy in a social system, and universal access to human- and machine-readable information?. Outcomes of this outreach work so far include an increase in the number of individuals self-hosting their research artifacts, workshops publishing accessible proceedings on the Web, in-the-wild experiments with open and public peer-review, and semantic graphs of contributions to conference proceedings and journals (the Linked Open Research Cloud).

Some of the future challenges include: addressing the social implications of decentralised Web publishing, as well as the design of ethically grounded interoperable mechanisms; cultivating privacy aware information spaces; personal or community-controlled on-demand archiving services; and further design of decentralised applications that are aware of the core functions of scientific communication.

The OpenAIRE Research Graph – OpenAIRE Blog

“The backdrop: Open Science is gradually becoming the modus operandi in research practices, affecting the way researchers collaborate and publish, discover, and access scientific knowledge. Scientists are increasingly publishing research results beyond the article, to share all scientific products (metadata and files) generated during an experiment, such as datasets, software, experiments. They publish in scholarly communication data sources (e.g. institutional repositories, data archives, software repositories), rely where possible on persistent identifiers (e.g. DOI, ORCID, Grid.ac, PDBs), specify semantic links to other research products (e.g. supplementedBy, citedBy, versionOf), and possibly to projects and/or relative funders. By following such practices, scientists are implicitly constructing the Global Open Science Graph, where by “graph” we mean a collection of objects interlinked by semantic relationships.”

Born-digital, open source, media-rich scholarly publishing that’s as easy as blogging.

“Scalar is a free, open source authoring and publishing platform that’s designed to make it easy for authors to write long-form, born-digital scholarship online. Scalar enables users to assemble media from multiple sources and juxtapose them with their own writing in a variety of ways, with minimal technical expertise required.

More fundamentally, Scalar is a semantic web authoring tool that brings a considered balance between standardization and structural flexibility to all kinds of material. It includes a built-in reading interface as well as an API that enables Scalar content to be used to drive custom-designed applications. If you’re dealing with small to moderate amounts of structured content and need a lightweight platform that encourages improvisation with your data model, Scalar may be the right solution for you.

Scalar also gives authors tools to structure essay- and book-length works in ways that take advantage of the unique capabilities of digital writing, including nested, recursive, and non-linear formats. The platform also supports collaborative authoring and reader commentary. The ANVC’s partner presses and archives are now beginning to implement Scalar into their research and publishing workflows, and several projects leveraging the platform have been published already.

Scalar is a project of the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture (ANVC) in association with Vectors and  IML, and with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities….”

Leveraging Concepts in Open Access Publications

Abstract : This paper addresses the integration of a Named Entity Recognition and Disambiguation (NERD) service within a group of open access (OA) publishing digital platforms and considers its potential impact on both research and scholarly publishing. The software powering this service, called entity-fishing, was initially developed by Inria in the context of the EU FP7 project CENDARI and provides automatic entity recognition and disambiguation using the Wikipedia and Wikidata data sets. The application is distributed with an open-source licence, and it has been deployed as a web service in DARIAH’s infrastructure hosted by the French HumaNum. In the paper, we focus on the specific issues related to its integration on five OA platforms specialized in the publication of scholarly monographs in the social sciences and humanities (SSH), as part of the work carried out within the EU H2020 project HIRMEOS (High Integration of Research Monographs in the European Open Science infrastructure). In the first section, we give a brief overview of the current status and evolution of OA publications, considering specifically the challenges that OA monographs are encountering. In the second part, we show how the HIRMEOS project aims to face these challenges by optimizing five OA digital platforms for the publication of monographs from the SSH and ensuring their interoperability. In sections three and four we give a comprehensive description of the entity-fishing service, focusing on its concrete applications in real use cases together with some further possible ideas on how to exploit the annotations generated. We show that entity-fishing annotations can improve both research and publishing process. In the last chapter, we briefly present further possible application scenarios that could be made available through infrastructural projects.

An interview with the co-founder of Iris.ai – the world’s first Artificial Intelligence science assistant | The Saint

“Have you ever spent hours sifting through journal papers? Ever got frustrated at your inability to find relevant research? Ever wished that there was an easier way to filter the seemingly endless stream of information on the web? The team at Iris.ai certainly did, which is why they have created an AI-powered science assistant to help anyone that wants to find related papers for an original research question. The software – Iris.ai – can be used to build a precise reading list of research documents, and the company claims that it can solve your research problems 78% faster (without compromising quality) than if you were carrying out the tasks manually. The concept for Iris.ai was first established three years ago at NASA Ames Research Centre. The team was taking part in a summer programme run by Singularity University (SU) when they were set the task of creating a concept that would positively affect the lives of a billion people. This exercise got the team thinking about the current state of scientific research, and more specifically about the restrictions created by paywalls, and the inability of human intelligence alone to process the three thousand or so research papers that are published around the world every single day….

When asked about challenges that the team have experienced so far, Ms Ritola was quick to point out the issue of paywalls. She explained that the Iris.ai system is connected to about 130 million open access papers – almost all those available to the public – but that many useful documents are still hidden behind systems that require users to pay for access.

However, rather than just accepting this situation as it is, the Iris.ai team have devised a scheme to solve the problem– Project Aiur – an initiative that aims to revolutionise the current workings of the research world.

“What we’re trying to do is to build a community, which is not owned by us, but by a community of researchers, a community of coders, anyone who wants to contribute to building a new economic model for science that works around a community governed AI-based Knowledge Validation Engine and an open, validated repository of science. Over time, the goal is to give access to all the research articles that are in this world”, Ms Ritola told The Saint.

This is not a straightforward task, as the Iris.ai team are faced with the challenge of encouraging researchers to publish and carry out their investigations using Aiur rather than the current systems- something that will take a fair amount of research and incentivisation. The team have started a pledge, offering students and researchers the chance to be an “advocate for validated, reproducible, open-access scientific research.” At the time of the interview,Ms Ritola informed The Saint that more than 5,000 people had signed the pledge….”