Have you heard of CrossRef?
The librarians in your library have.
Image credit: Crossref.org – All rights reserved – copyright 2008
The digital academic library meshes seamless electronic connections between distant points worldwide, and the end result provides our students, clinicians, faculty and staff with remote or on-campus access to library subscription materials, whether they are working at UCHC, from their homes or a different clinical location.
Librarians and technologists have spent many years creating these networks. Our essential work allows the process of pursuing research to seem easy; users are provided with a wide choice of health science databases and collections..
Image credit: Exlibris.com – All rights reserved – copyright 2008
Link out buttons are liberally spread throughout database pages, allowing users to click through to full-text subscriptions in seconds. A library of articles can be created by our users in a short amount of time. Many library users attend hands-on classes (taught by reference librarians) in order to learn to manage their collection of research articles using bibliographic management software such as EndNote or RefWorks.
Image credit: ISI and ThomsonReuters.com – All rights reserved – copyright 2008
And the next part is the best part: Our library users can then choose when and where to read, print, save or email their lists. Read it today, save it for next week, download it at home, print it or paper (or read it online and never print it at all).
Librarians are in the service profession, and convenience is King. (That makes Good Service… Queen!?)
All of these endeavors are standard, daily events in academic or health science libraries, which is why I bring up what the library profession refers to as the Front End and Back End (or the public face of the library, and the back-office technical stuff).
The Front End is what the librarians and technical systems staff refer to as the physical and digital front-door of the library from the perspective of the end user (people who use our library, services and collections), and the staff who work in public services, the human face of the library.
The Front End works seamlessly (on most days) because of the large cast of employees maintaining the Back End, watching over the myriad electronic connections and interconnected pathways, keeping them up and running 24x7x365.
Because the Back End staff aren’t visible in the public areas of the library and because the Back End works so well… many of the users who generate our most-active statistics counts – faculty, researchers, graduate students- no longer need to physically step into the (real) building. Those who do walk into the actual library may only come to know the (Front End) reference or circulation staff who provide public services.
Because of these coordinated efforts, thousands of subscription journals are accessible online, MEDLINE or other subscription resources can be searched and linked digitally to full-text article(s)… and any of us can read, save or download these research materials if we are sitting on-site (or using a proxy connection when off-site).
At times, the system goes down. Then who ya gonna call? The library staff. Who does the library staff then call? The publishers and the gateway sites… for example, Karger is a science & technology publisher and HighWire or ScienceDirect are journal gateway sites.
Image credit: ScienceDirect.com – All rights reserved – copyright 2008
That is where CrossRef comes in, as the role it plays represents an integral piece in keeping both Front End and Back End in the library functional.
There are several levels of explanations to describe all that a non-profit, independent membership association such as CrossRef.org does for scholarly and academic publishers (and library users). Following are several excerpts from the CrossRef “About” page:
” CrossRef.org is a not-for-profit independent membership association, founded and directed by publishers… with a mandate to make reference linking throughout online scholarly literature efficient and reliable. As such, it is an infrastructure for linking citations across publishers, and the only full-scale implementation of the Digital Object Identifier (or DOI) System to date. CrossRef’s mandate is to connect users to primary research content, by enabling publishers to work collectively. ”
” CrossRef is also the official DOI® link registration agency for scholarly and professional publications. It operates a cross-publisher citation linking system that allows a researcher to click on a reference citation on one publisher’s platform and link directly to the cited content on another publisher’s platform, subject to the target publisher’s access control practices. Our citation-linking network today covers millions of articles and other content items from several hundred scholarly and professional publishers.… CrossRef is a collaborative membership network, and not a product for purchase. ”
“ DOI is an alphanumeric name that identifies digital content, such as a book or journal article. The DOI is paired with the object’s electronic address, or URL, in an updateable central directory, and is published in place of the URL in order to avoid broken links while allowing the content to move as needed. DOIs are distributed by publishers and by CrossRef, and there is no end-user charge associated with their use. As an identifier, the DOI can be incorporated into many different systems and databases. (For more information, see www.doi.org.) “
Now you, the reader, may be thinking “Why is the librarian taking up my time, writing about this CrossRef stuff? What does CrossRef have to do with evidence based medicine and health science literature? Why should I be concerned about a librarian thing?”
Answer: CrossRef is one of the many pieces of the network which allows all the linking required to bring that article to your desktop to be downloaded.
And if you are concerned about scholarly plagiarism, then please read this press release (June 19 2008 ) from CrossRef.org, announcing the introduction of a product designed for publishers’ use for detecting plagiarism of manuscripts submitted to editors of scholarly or professional publications. The product is called CrossCheck. This software is only available by paid subscription to editors or peer-reviewers, and not to individuals. Read more about it here. Twelve major publishers have begun using CrossCheck.
Think of CrossCheck as a sort of Turnitin® for academics and researchers. In fact, the company which created Turnitin® is iParadigms which also developed the software for CrossCheck.
Editors Note: Note: CrossRef® and CrossRef.org® are registered trademarks and the CrossRef logo is a trademark of PILA (Publishers International Linking Association). Turnitin® is a registered trademark of iParadigms.com.