Frequently asked questions

No. I4OA is an advocacy organization and does not itself host or publish bibliographic data of any type. Rather, it encourages scholarly publishers to submit the abstracts of their Crossref-DOI-identified publications to Crossref.

Scholarly publishers who wish to declare themselves to be supporters of I4OA, and who commit to sending the abstracts of their publications to Crossref, should notify us of this intent by emailing Your company name will then be added to the growing list of supporting publishers shown on the main page of the I4OA web site.

Besides being of benefit to publishers, openly available abstracts of scholarly publications are of value to a wide variety of stakeholders, including research funders, academic libraries, researchers and infrastructure providers. We welcome expressions of support from such stakeholders, and we will be happy to display your institutional name and logo in the Stakeholders section of our main web page. To express your support, please email, and please attach a copy of your institutional logo together with a statement that you have authority to permit us to display this logo.

Open availability of the full text of all scholarly articles and books is the ideal situation for open scholarship, and a goal of the Open Science movement that I4OA fully espouses. Although there has been significant progress towards full open access, the full text of many publications is still not openly available. This is the case for many newly published works, and even more so for older works.

For publications that are not openly accessible, it is of enormous value to have openly available abstracts. I4OA has thus taken the pragmatic decision that the best should not become the enemy of the good, and believes that making abstracts openly available in Crossref has the following important benefits.

Firstly, it is achievable to a significant extent in the short term.

Secondly, while access to the entire text is essential for a full understanding of any publication, access to the abstract (together with the title and keywords) is useful for many purposes, for example to better determine whether the topic of the publication is of sufficient relevance to a researcher to make the effort of obtaining access to the full publication (which currently may involve financial expense), or to decide whether the publication should be shortlisted for further study during a systematic review.

Thirdly, availability of abstracts on publishers' websites is of limited use, because this does not facilitate large-scale reuse of abstracts, because machine access (i.e. available to computers via an API) is idiosyncratic if available at all, and because 'scraping' them off the web is problematic. Many publishers consider that making abstracts available for human (eyeball) reading is sufficient to qualify as 'open access'.

Fourthly, there is enormous benefit to be gained by abstract submission to a centralized trusted open and machine-accessible repository, from which they can all be accessed via a single API, thereby facilitating discovery and large-scale reuse.

This is a pragmatic decision. Full open availability of complete metadata of all scholarly publications is the ideal situation for open scholarship. However, while I4OA would love all bibliographic metadata to be openly available, it recognizes that many scholarly publications presently lack key metadata regarding unambiguous author identity (ORCID IDs), institutional affiliations (ROR IDs), funder IDs, licensing information, etc. Valuable as these metadata might be for in-depth bibliometric studies, calling broadly for all metadata at this present time would be ill-defined and met with scant success. However, almost all scholarly publications do have abstracts. In other words, abstracts are the low-hanging fruit in the scholarly publication domain, and success in harvesting them in the present will both bring immediate benefits and will also facilitate harvesting other bibliographic metadata in future.

Availability of abstracts on publishers' websites is of limited use, because this does not facilitate large-scale reuse of abstracts, because machine access is idiosyncratic if available at all, and because 'scraping' them off the web is problematic. Many publishers consider that making abstracts available for human (eyeball) reading is sufficient. In contrast, depositing abstracts in Crossref has the great advantage of bringing all the abstracts together in a common format in one searchable database where they are available via the API.

Many abstracts are available from various bibliographic databases, but these sources all have limitations, for instance because they are not machine-accessible via application programming interfaces (APIs), because they require a subscription, or because they are restricted to a specific discipline. See this blog post for more details.

Subscription to the services provided by commercial bibliographic data suppliers costs individual universities and other academic institutions many thousands of dollars annually. The economic depression brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic is placing great pressure on library budgets, and the cost of subscription services is becoming increasingly unsustainable. I4OA is encouraging one step towards providing a free and open alternative to commercial bibliographic data services, which has the additional advantage of opening such access to those institutions that cannot afford subscriptions to these services, and to those individuals, for example doctors and health workers in developing countries, who cannot afford access to such basic scholarly data.

While the abstracts will be available individually on the article pages of your journal's web site, they will not be available together with those from other publishers in a centralized repository, accessible via an API, unless you additionally submit them to Crossref.

See the explanation given in the full text of the I4OA home page under the header navigation link 'Crossref'.

For publishers already using Crossref DOIs, the abstracts for new works may be submitted as part of their Crossref metadata sets, simply by including the abstracts of the works as XML in JATS format, as detailed here. Abstracts for previously published works may be submitted as updates to the relevant metadata sets. Technical advice is available from Crossref.

While we expect publishers supporting I4OA to make available the abstracts of their current publications at the time they submit DOI metadata to Crossref, we recognize that additional effort may be required to do the same for back archives, which might therefore entail some delay.

Once made open, the abstracts for individual scholarly publications registered with Crossref may be accessed, together with other bibliographic metadata, through the Crossref search interface and the Crossref REST API. Example query (JSON format).

Crossref exposes article metadata and abstracts without a specific license, but reminds users that abstracts may be subject to copyright that precludes republication unless the license under which it is originally published permits such republication.

I4OA cannot tell who is accessing your abstracts, and neither can Crossref, but trusts that this exposure will lead many to discover your work and read the full text of your publications.

DOI registration agencies vary. Some agencies are for other domains entirely, such as entertainment or construction. In the scholarly domain, the degree to which each RA accepts or makes available various metadata submitted to them can also vary. If you identify your publications using DOIs issued by a DOI registration agency other than Crossref or DataCite, the chances are that your agency may not be able to process nor make open the abstracts, references and other metadata submitted to it.

I4OA calls on all other DOI registration agencies first to establish systems that permit the open publication of metadata, abstracts and references from their own registered publications, and second to cooperate in a manner that allows federated searches across the data stored in all DOI scholarly registration agencies.

Since international academic publishers mostly use Crossref to register DOIs for publications, I4OA has chosen to concentrate on Crossref initially, while hoping that in the future its influence can be expanded.

Where abstracts have been submitted to DataCite together with other publication metadata, these are available and may be found using the DataCite search interface and retrieved in a variety of machine-readable formats. DataCite is spearheading developments to permit federated searches across all DOIs, irrespective of their registration agency, and is leading the way by having abstracts (descriptions) with 69% of all its 19,809,468 records, abstracts (descriptions) with 51% of its 5,687,712 records of type 'Text', and abstracts (descriptions) with 83% of all its 7,466,013 records of type 'Dataset' (as of 8th September 2020).

I4OA recognizes that for a variety of financial, cultural and political reasons some scholarly publishers choose not to employ DOIs to uniquely and unambiguously identify their publications. I4OA calls on such publishers nevertheless to submit their abstracts to a trusted repository where they will be made both openly available without subscription fee and machine-accessible.

As an author, you should ask your journal and publisher if they are posting abstracts to Crossref. Questions from authors are amongst the most powerful motivations for publishers to engage. As a responsible author you will no doubt already be depositing an appropriate version of your work including the abstract in an open access repository ('green' open access), such as your institutional repository. From these repositories abstracts and content can be harvested into aggregators like CORE and BASE, providing a parallel route for downstream users to discover, analyse and build on your work.

The official I4OA logo is available at It is published under a CC-BY license, and may be re-used for any legitimate purpose to identify I4OA.