BitView : using blockchain technology to validate and diffuse global usage data for academic publications

Abstract:  We suggest that blockchain technology could be used to underpin a validated, reliable, and transparent usage metric for research outputs. Previous attempts to create online usage metrics have been unsuccessful largely because it has been difficult to co-ordinate agreement between all parties on the rules of data collection and the distribution of the workload of data synthesis and dissemination. Blockchain technology can be utilized to bypass this co-ordination problem. We propose the creation of a bibliometric blockchain (called BitView) which forms a decentralized ledger of the online usage of scholarly research outputs. By means of a worked example, we demonstrate how this blockchain could ensure that all parties adhere to the same rules of data collection, and that the workload of data synthesis is distributed equitably. Moreover, we outline how public-private key cryptography could ensure that users’ data remains private while librarians, academics, publishers, and research funders retain open access to all the data they require. It is concluded that a usage metric underpinned by blockchain technology may lead to a richer and healthier ecosystem in which publishers and academics are incentivized to widen access to their research.