Waving goodbye to API v1

Back in March, we announced the beta release of the CORE API v2. This added new features such as searching via DOI and retrieving citations for full texts.

This new API should be more reliable and have a higher quality metadata output compared to the old version.

Over the next few months, we aim to finalise the API v2 and finally close access to v1. The scheduled date of the v1 switch off is Monday, 25th April 2016. 

We hope that most users have already had an opportunity to test v2 of the API but if not, we suggest that you check out the documentation here.

For those who are wondering:

  • API keys generated for API v1 will continue to work for v2. If you want to register or have forgotten your key, please fill out this form.
  • The Similarity service provided by our EPrints plugin and Javascript library will be unaffected and will continue to work after this date.

We hope to make this transition as smooth as possible so if there is something missing from our API v2 or need assistance, please get in touch or write in the comments below.

How about them stats?

Every month Samuel Pearce, one of the CORE developers, collects the CORE statistics – perhaps a boring task, but useful for us to know where we stand as a service. A very brief report of the accumulative statistics of all years that CORE operates as a project, 2011 – 2015, are as follows.
Users can retrieve from CORE,

  • 25,363,829 metadata records and
  • 2,954,141 open access full-text records, 

from 689 repositories (institutional and subject) and 5,488 open access journals. In addition, 122 users have access to the CORE API

In the playful Christmas spirit we attempted this time to have some fun with the statistics.

Since we harvest outputs in other languages than English, we created a top 20 list of the languages that appear in CORE’s full-text manuscripts.

rect4333

We also investigated how much we have progressed in the amount of the harvested metadata.

metadata

And the amount of full-text we have in our collection.

fulltext
The metadata and harvest graph in XKCD style have been created based on this awesome python notebook by Jake Vanderplas.

You may have noticed that the numbers in the graphs do not exactly match the numbers presented above. This is due to many reasons; for example during the harvesting process CORE retrieves either records with different types of inconsistencies or duplicates that we do not count in the “official” CORE collection. In addition, the numbers in the graphs include the amount of deleted or disabled records by the source repository. Therefore, the graphs illustrate the numbers that we actually harvest in CORE (what we have in our database), while the records that we provide via our search engine have been filtered and thus they are a bit smaller.

Finally, we calculated where CORE’s collection would take us if we had printed all the full-text from our database in a A3 page. We discovered that all this paper would take us 1/3 of the way to the moon.

Our next mission is to collect more full-text, enough to take us to the moon!

Merry Christmas!

*Note: Special thanks to Matteo Cancellieri for creating the images and the graphs.

 

7 tips for successful harvesting

7tipsThe CORE (COnnecting REpositories) project aims to aggregate open access research outputs from open repositories and open journals, and make them available for dissemination via its search engine.  The project indexes metadata records and harvests the full-text of the outputs, provided that they are stored in a PDF format and are openly available. Currently CORE hosts around 24 million open access articles from 5,488 open access journals and 679 repositories.

Like in any type of partnership, the harvesting process is a two way relationship, were the content provider and the aggregator need to be able to communicate and have a mutual understanding. For a successful harvesting it is recommended that content providers apply the following best practices (some of the following recommendations relate generally to harvesting, while some are CORE specific):

  1. Platform: For those who haven’t deployed a repository yet, it is highly advised that the repository platform is not built in house, but one of the industry standard platforms is chosen. The benefits of choosing one of the existing platforms is that they provide frequent content updates, constant support and extend repository functionality through plug-ins.
  2. Repository information status: Check that your repository is included in an international repositories list and that the Open Archives Initiative Metadata Harvesting Protocol (OAI-PMH) address is up to date. The primary directories for CORE are the Directory of Open Access Repositories, the Registry of Open Access Repositories and the Directory of Open Access Journals.
  3. Robots.txt: This file states whether a web crawler is allowed to access a repository. At CORE often times a harvesting attempt fails from the very beginning  due to the fact that the service is banned in this file. Additionally, it is highly recommended that repositories provide equal access levels with the same conditions to all crawlers without making distinctions between services; for example providing complete access at full speed to commercial services, while limiting access to some repository directories or imposing slower crawling speed to non-commercial services. Currently 98 UK research and dissertations repositories are listed in the CORE Dashboard and 10 of these have a prohibiting rule in the robots.txt file for CORE, which affects harvesting.

    An example of a robots.txt file that blocks the CORE service.
    An example of two robots.txt files and their rules.
  4. Meta-tags: The meta-tags describe a webpage’s content in the code, which makes them extremely useful to machines rather than humans. Crawlers of harvesting services, like CORE, and search engines, like Google Scholar, expect to find a list of meta-tags in the code of each webpage in order to be able to harvest the content properly. Failure to do so results in crawlers making guesses about the content or completely omitting it.
  5. <dc:identifier> field: The aim of the Dublin Core Metadata tags is to ensure online interoperability of metadata standards. The importance of the <dc:identifier> tag is that it describes the resource of the harvested output. CORE expects in this field to find the direct URL of the PDF. When the information in this field is not presented properly, the CORE crawler needs to crawl for the PDF and the success of finding it cannot be guaranteed. This also causes additional server processing time and bandwidth both for the harvester and the hosting institution.
    There are also three additional points that need to be considered with regards to the <dc:identifier>; a) this field should describe an absolute path to the file, b) it should contain an appropriate file name extension, for example “.pdf” and c) the full-text items should be stored under the same repository domain.

    A good metadata tag
    A <dc:identifier> tag including all three requirements
  6. URL external resolving: When external resolution services, such as Handle.Net® or doi®, are used it is important to ensure that the URL produced works properly and it links to an actual document and not a dead page.
  7. Is everything in order?: To ensure that everything is alright with your repository, use monitor tools to check how your repository looks to the outside world.  Such tools are the OAI PMH validator, which will test your endpoint, the Google Webmaster Tools, which will help improve your search rank and the CORE Dashboard, which provides detailed information on the harvesting process, technical issues and how to improve the exposure of your metadata.

If we compare web crawling to harvesting, the latter is more helpful to repositories since it deals with structured XML formats that contain all the bibliographic information fields. That way all this data can be reused for data analysis and data mining purposes.

* I would like to thank the CORE developers, Samuel Pearce, Lucas Anastasiou and Matteo Cancellieri for their technical input in this blog post.

CORE Repositories Dashboard: An infrastructure to increase collaboration of Aggregators with Open Repositories

In an effort to improve the quality and transparency of the harvesting process of the open access content and create a two way collaboration between the CORE project and the providers of this content, CORE is introducing the Repositories Dashboard. The aim of the Dashboard is to provide an online interface for repository providers and offer, through this online interface, valuable information to content providers about:

  • the content harvested from the repository enabling its management, such as by requesting metadata updates or managing take-down requests,
  • the times and frequency of content harvesting, including all detected technical issues and suggestions for improving the efficiency of harvesting and the quality of metadata, including compliance with existing metadata guidelines,
  • statistics regarding the repository content, such as the distribution of content according to subject fields and types of research outputs, and the comparison of these with the national average.

In the CORE Dashboard there is a designated page for every institution, where repository managers will be able to add all the information that corresponds to their own repository, such as the institution’s logo, the repository name and email address.

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 13.41.18

The Dashboard allows repository managers to create accounts for other colleagues as well.

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 15.56.10

With regards to managing the harvested outputs, the Dashboard enables repository managers to add or remove documents’ full-text in the CORE collection without having to contact the CORE team.

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 13.48.55

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 13.49.33

These actions can now be completed immediately only by clicking on the “Take Down” or “Take up” buttons. It is also possible to download a CSV file of all the records harvested by CORE from a repository.

CORE can also be notified about metadata changes through the Dashboard. Repository managers can click on the blue “Update Metadata” button and then the single item’s metadata will be updated without the need for a full repository harvest.

In cases where a whole repository needs to be re-harvested, a re-harvesting button can be found on the main page for each repository.

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 13.55.07

The CORE Dashboard is also in position to identify technical issues that may occur while harvesting a repository. We have divided these types of issues into three categories: Error, Warning and Info, and we provide an explanation for each category on the Dashboard.

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 13.57.51

An example of how errors and warnings may appear:

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 13.58.49

We believe that this information will be valuable to the repository managers in their communication with the staff that support the repository technically. For example, in the screenshot provided, it is shown that CORE cannot harvest the repository because there is an entry in the robots.txt file that prohibits the download. The “Documents issues” section informs us that CORE was not able to harvest the repository because a login may have been required to access the PDF, or perhaps the metadata record does not link to a PDF, but to a video file. The last section, “Malformed PDF url” singles out these records that do not have an hyper-text transfer protocol or have invalid characters in the URL.

Currently we are working to include two important functionalities in the Dashboard. The first one is the IRUS-UK statistics, which will give repository managers access to their records’ statistics through CORE. The second one is RIOXX, whereby repository managers will be able to check repository compliance with the RIOXX guidelines.

If you have any questions, recommendations or you would like to gain access to the CORE Dashboard, email us at dashboard [at] core [ dot ] ac [ dot ] uk

CORE releases a new API version

We are very proud to announce that CORE has now released CORE API 2.0. The new API offers new opportunities for developers to make use of the CORE open access aggregator in their applications.

The main new features are:

  • Support for looking up articles by a global identifier (DOI, OAI, arXiv, etc.) instead of just CORE ID.
  • Access to new resource types, repositories and journals, and organisation of API methods according to the resource type.
  • Enables accessing the original metadata exactly as it was harvested from the repository of origin.
  • Supports the retrieval of the changes of the metadata as it was harvested by CORE.
  • Provides the possibility of retrieving citations extracted from the full-text by CORE.
  • Support for batch request for searching, recommending, accessing full-texts, harvesting history, etc.

The goals of the new API also include improving scalability, cleaning up and unifying the API responses and making it easier for developers to start working with it.

The API is implemented and documented using Swagger, which has the advantage that anybody can start playing with the API directly from our online client. The documentation of the API v2.0 is available and the API is currently in beta. Those interested to register for a new API key can do so by completing the online form.

Our previous version, the CORE API v1.0, will not be abandoned yet, but it will run alongside with the new version. However, the API v1.0 is deprecated and will eventually be replaced by the API v2.0.

What is CORE

The mission of CORE (COnnecting REpositories) is to aggregate all open access research outputs from repositories and journals worldwide and make them available to the public. In this way CORE facilitates free unrestricted access to research for all.

CORE:

  • supports the right of citizens and general public to access the results of research towards which they contributed by paying taxes,
  • facilitates access to open access content for all by offering services to general public, academic institutions, libraries, software developers, researchers, etc.,
  • provides support to both content consumers and content providers by working with digital libraries, institutional and subject repositories and journals,
  • enriches the research content using state-of-the-art technology and provides access to it through a set of services including search, API and analytical tools,
  • contributes to a cultural change by promoting open access, a fast growing movement.

CORE among the top 10 search engines for research that go beyond Google

Using search engines effectively is now a key skill for researchers, but could more be done to equip young researchers with the tools they need? Here, Dr Neil Jacobs and Rachel Bruce from JISC’s digital infrastructure team shared their top ten resources for researchers from across the web. CORE was placed among the top 10 search engines that go beyond Google.

More information on the JISC’s website.

Related content recommendation for EPrints

We have released the first version of a content recommendation package for EPrints available via the EPrints Bazaar ( http://bazaar.eprints.org/ ). The functionality is offered through CORE and can be seen, for example, in Open Research Online EPrints ( http://oro.open.ac.uk/36256/ ) or on the European Library portal ( http://www.theeuropeanlibrary.org/tel4/record/2000004374192?query=data+mining ). I was wonderring if any EPrints repository manager would be interested to get in touch to test this in his/her repository. As the
package is available via the EPrints Bazaar, the installation requires just a few clicks. We would be grateful for any suggestions for improvements and also for information regarding how this could be effectively provided to DSpace and Fedora repositories.