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What is Scholix?

Scholix is short for Scholarly Link Exchange. The goal of Scholix is to improve the links between scholarly literature and research data as well as between data and data.

Scholix is global in scope and is an initiative of the Research Data Alliance (RDA) and the World Data System (WDS). It is supported by a number of partner organisations, including ANDS, with many people involved in its development.

Why do we need links between scholarly literature and data?

Links between scholarly literature and data enable a reader of a journal article to follow a link to the data that supports the findings of the data. Conversely, they enable a user of a dataset to find literature based on that dataset. These links significantly aid the scientific method by improving discovery of and access to related knowledge and underpinning observations. The benefits of links between scholarly literature and data include:

  • increased visibility, discovery and retrieval of both literature and data
  • facilitating reuse, reproducibility and transparency of research
  • enabling better attribution of credit for published data, providing an additional incentive for researchers to share their data.

What problem does Scholix address?

While there are clear benefits to literature and data linking, in practice these links are difficult to find or share. The main reason for this is that there is no universal way of exchanging link information between databases and systems which hold this information. Instead, there are different agreements and technical frameworks for exchanging link information between the different partners and systems which hold this information.

The Scholix initiative aims to address this problem. Its goal is to improve the links between scholarly literature and research data as well as between datasets, thereby making it easier to discover, interpret and reuse scholarly information.

What does Scholix offer?

The Scholix initiative offers:

  • a universal, global framework that enables information about the links between scholarly articles and data to be exchanged
  • technical guidelines that specify how the interoperability framework will work
  • a common conceptual model, an information model and open exchange protocols.

How does Scholix work?

Scholix provides an overarching framework for existing technical initiatives that individually address parts of the overall problem that is hindering better linking between data and literature. It also provides a conceptual model and an information model.

Within the Scholix framework

  • Repositories, data centres, journals and others provide information about the links between literature and data that they hold to community 'Hubs' such as OpenAire, Crossref and DataCite. This supports and respects existing community-specific practices and the existing means of exchanging this information.
  • The community 'Hubs' - which are natural places to collect and exchange information about the links between literature and data - commit to a common information model for exchanging the links that they hold and an agreed open exchange method enables this to occur.

Conceptual modelThe Scholix Conceptual model

The conceptual model is about the link between two objects, such as a journal article and the underpinning data. Rather than describing in detail the properties of each of the two objects, the conceptual model focuses on the relationship between the objects. It also enables a record of who asserted the link and who made the link available.

Information modelThe Scholix information model

The information model provides the detail of the conceptual model. It specifies what information is needed in what is called a Link Information Package. This includes what elements of the conceptual model are mandatory fields (publishing date and link publisher) and optional fields (various).

Formats and protocols

Scholix does not mandate how to format and exchange a Link Information Package. Therefore information can be formatted and exchanged using a variety of models and protocols such as JSON, XML or RDF formats and OAI-PMH, RESTful or SPARQL protocols.

The application of encoding and semantic standards are pending and will be developed by the Scholarly Link Exchange Working Group under the auspices of RDA and ICSU-WDS.

Who is implementing Scholix?

There are currently three community Hubs which offer a Scholix compliance interface:

What is planned for Scholix in the future?

While Scholix is initially targeting the links between scholarly literature and data as well as between data and data, there is potential for Scholix to be applied to link a wide range of research objects such as software and data, samples and data and much more.

How is Australia contributing to Scholix?

Research Data Australia is a discovery portal for Australian research data descriptions. The Research Data Australia Registry functions as a Scholix hub enabling contributor metadata records containing connections between data collections and related publications to be mapped to the Scholix Framework’s Information Model. For some Research Data Australia contributors, this may require minor optimisations to their metadata for the dataset and the related publications. These records, or Link Information Packages, are then made available to other Scholix Hub partners for harvest from an OAI-PMH endpoint.

The Data Literature Interlinking (DLI) service is currently harvesting all data to publication links from the ANDS OAI-PMH endpoint. In future, ANDS will provide a specific subset of data-publication links. This is mainly for legacy data. Information about links between data and publications in Research Data Australia is also provided to DataCite as part of the DataCite metadata for DOI minting on behalf of Research Data Australia contributors.

How do Australian researchers benefit?

Australian researchers contributing to the Scholix initiative via Research Data Australia gain increased exposure, and potentially recognition, for their data and linked publications through third party services like Scopus.

How do I get my data into Scholix?

It’s quite simple. For Australian researchers, ensure that a description of your data is captured in your institution’s repository including a link to the corresponding publication(s) and preferably, the relevant DOI. These data descriptions (or metadata records) are then harvested into Research Data Australia and made available as Scholix-compliant links to any Scholix hub (e.g. the DLI service currently).

Third-party services can use the data-literature link information in Scholix hubs to enhance existing services or build new ones. Scopus is an example of a third-party service leveraging Scholix link information to deliver new functionality to its users. Scopus now displays 'Related Research Data' links in a sidebar on its article pages.

Further resources