From: Steve Hitchcock <>
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2001 09:38:19 +0000

At 09:16 12/02/01 +0000, Stevan Harnad wrote:
>Your interpretation is correct. DOI is proprietary, OAI is open.

In the context of the debate below there are a number of subtle
distinctions that might be worth making to avoid confusion. Also, it is
important to define what 'open' applies to.

In one sense, DOI is no more proprietary than OAI. It is based on an open
technology, the Handle server used to resolve the DOI identifiers. Anyone
can build an ID scheme based on the Handle server

DOI is a particular ID scheme administered by a 'not-for-profit membership
organization', the DOI Foundation. True, it represents the interests mostly
of large commercial publishers, but the principal barrier to participation
is the DOI-F's wish to preserve the integrity of the scheme and DOI-based
resolver services by restricting those who can assign DOIs to works and who
can operate resolvers.

The OAi makes metadata available to describe works, but doesn't mandate
access to works. In this sense OAi is more open to service providers, those
who collect data from data, but not from the point of view of all data
providers and users.

CrossRef is a proprietary reference linking service between journal
publishers. It is open to data providers/publishers who want to pay. In
this sense it is perhaps less discriminatory than DOI-F. It is an
implementation of the DOI.

Neither DOI nor CrossRef 'block' access to works. They improve access for
those who are able to pay. The 'blocking', i.e. the price that has to be
paid to access journals, is already in place. There is an idea that DOI
will track usage of rights-based materials to prevent unauthorised copying.
Maybe that's what is meant by the claim below that "the underlying goal of
the initiative is essentially to block access to the referred journal

OAi doesn't have an 'associated open citation linking mechanism', yet. One
distinction that needs to be made about 'open' linking is whether open
applies to the software that applies the links, to the ability of the
format to present the links, to the ability of the user's service to
provide the links, or to the ability of the user's service to retrieve a
document using a link. I'll assume that this correspondence is concerned
with the latter two.

In this respect it is true to say that CrossRef linking is 'exclusionary',
but it doesn't necessarily follow that unless you are a member of CrossRef
'your publications will not be interoperable with theirs'. It is possible
that publishers will make information about journals and papers available
in OAi tagged form, perhaps using software because it is
convenient and cost-effective. This provides a degree of interoperability,
and doesn't directly provide links or access to works, but could be the
basis of both. It is certainly in publishers' interests to be open and
interoperable at this level at least, whether participants in CrossRef or not.

An additional couple of points on reference linking services and systems.

SFX is a proprietary system and not the basis of OAi (it's concerned with
the 'appropriate copy' problem, which is a library issue rather than the
global OAi issue). Herbert Van de Sompel, one of the developers of SFX, is
however a primary mover in OAi, and so a better paper to start with is
The UPS Prototype: An Experimental End-User Service across E-Print Archives

The original jake is a database of journals rather than a reference linking
service, although a version of it is now available through an Openly Inc.
server as a linking service
Openly's strategy is to design truly open environments in the hope of
stimulating use, and then offering the best tools and services for the
environment they created.

This is an increasingly complex area, but I think it is important to
identify the objectives of an initiative to understand its context, instead
of applying labels that might be inadvertently pejorative and obscure
rather than clarify.

Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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