Sunday, August 09, 2015

Possible project: #itaxonomist, combining taxonomic names, DOIs, and ORCID to measure taxonomic impact

E9815d877cd092a19918df74e04f0415Imagine a web site where researchers can go, log in (easily) and get a list of all the species they have described (with pretty pictures and, say, GBIF map), and a list of all DNA sequences/barcodes (if any) that they've published. Imagine that this is displayed in a colourful way (e.g., badges), and the results tweeted with the hastag #itaxonomist.

Imagine that you are not a taxonomist, but if you have worked with one (e.g., published a paper), you can go to the site, log in, and discover that you “know” a taxonomist. Imagine if you are a researcher who has cited taxonomic work, you can log in and discover that your work depends on a taxonomist (think six degrees of Kevin Bacon).

Imagine that this is run as a campaign (hashtag #itaxonomist), with regular announcements leading up to the release date. Imagine if #itaxonomist trends. Imagine the publicity for the work taxonomists do, and the new found ability for them to quantitatively demonstrate this.

How does it work?

#itaxonomist relies on three things:

  1. People having an ORCID
  2. People having publications with DOIs (or otherwise easily identifiable) in their ORCID profile
  3. A map between DOIs (etc.) and the names in the nomenclators (ION, IPNI, Index Fungorum, ZooBank)


Under the hood this builds part of the “biodiversity knowledge graph”, and uses ideas I and others have been playing around with (e.g., see David Shorthouse’s neat proof of concept and my now defunct Mendeley project

For a subset of people and names this we could build this very quickly. Some some taxonomists already have ORCIDs , and some nomenclators have limited numbers of DOIs. I am currently building lists of DOIs for primary taxonomic literature, which could be used to seed the database.

The “i am a taxonomist” query is simply a map between ORCID to DOI to name in nomenclator. The “i know a taxonomist” is a map between ORCID and DOI that you share with a taxonomist, but there are no names associated with that DOI (e.g., a paper you have co-authored with a taxonomist that wasn’t on taxonomy, or at least didn’t describe a new species). The “six degrees of taxonomy” relies on the existence of open citation data, which is trickier, but some is available in PubMed Central and/or could be harvested from Pensoft publications.