The Initiative of Open Citations (140C) announced today that science papers' reference lists will now be accessible to anyone.
As explained on their website, "citations are the links that knit together our scientific and cultural knowledge. They are primary data that provide both provenance and an explanation for how we know facts."
"They allow us to attribute and credit scientific contributions, and they enable the evaluation of research and its impacts. In sum, citations are the most important vehicle for the discovery, dissemination, and evaluation of all scholarly knowledge."
The initiative, started last year by the Wikimedia Foundation along with five other partners, including the Public Library of Science and the open-access journal eLife, is currently working with 29 journal publishers who will allow access to 14 million papers.
"For the first time in history, swathes of scholarly citation data from the largest publishers - data that constitutes the very fabric of scientific knowledge - become available to the public with no copyright restrictions whatsoever," said Dario Taraborelli, head of research at the Wikimedia Foundation, to Nature.
Science publishers deposit citation data on Crossref, a non-profit organisation established in 2000.
And until I4OC, reliable records of citation data were accessible only via Web of Science and Scopus for a fee, and only one percent of the data was actually accessible for free.
Because of 14OC's efforts, that figure has now jumped to 40 percent, with the goal of reaching 100 percent coverage very soon.
More publishers and open-data organisations joining the initiative will help 14OC achieve the 100 percent coverage goal.
The relevance of making citation data and peer review science available to all is critical to the development and growth of science. The launch of 14OC will allow publishers, funders, and researchers to trace the impact of their papers for free.
It will also allow them to identify and fix errors in openly accessible citation records and provide opportunities for ideas and research to evolve.
Eventually, they hope that as more publishers open access to scholarly work and journals, they can build a database that users can easily access.