Please help us welcome new faces at Crossref! Martyn, Sara, Laura, and Mark joined us very recently and we are happy they’re with us. Both Martyn and Sara have joined the Product team and this has given us the chance to reorganize the team into the following groups: content registration, scholarly stewardship, scholarly impact, metadata retrieval, and UX/UI leadership. Laura joined the Finance and Operations team to help make the billing process simple for our members. Mark joins the Technology team and one of his projects will be improving the Event Data service.
It is exciting to already see the impact of your contributions and look forward to what’s to come!
2020 hasn’t been quite what any of us had imagined. The pandemic has meant big adjustments in terms of working; challenges for parents balancing childcare and professional lives; anxieties and tensions we never had before; the strain of potentially being away from co-workers, friends, and family for a prolonged period of time. Many have suffered job losses and around the world, many have sadly lost their lives to the virus.
English version –– Información en español
The Crossref Nominating Committee is inviting expressions of interest to join the Board of Directors of Crossref for the term starting in 2021. The committee will gather responses from those interested and create the slate of candidates that our membership will vote on in an election in September. Expressions of interest will be due Friday, June 19, 2020.
The role of the board at Crossref is to provide strategic and financial oversight of the organization, as well as guidance to the Executive Director and the staff leadership team, with the key responsibilities being:
After 20 years in operation, and as our system matures from experimental to foundational infrastructure, it’s time to review our documentation.
Having a solid core of education materials about the why and the how of Crossref is essential in making participation possible, easy, and equitable.
As our system has evolved, our membership has grown and diversified, and so have our tools - both for depositing metadata with Crossref, and for retrieving and making use of it.
It’s here. After years of hard work and with a huge cast of characters involved, I am delighted to announce that you will now be able to instantly link to all published articles related to an individual clinical trial through the Crossmark dialogue box. Linked Clinical Trials are here!
In practice, this means that anyone reading an article will be able to pull a list of both clinical trials relating to that article and all other articles related to those clinical trials – be it the protocol, statistical analysis plan, results articles or others – all at the click of a button.
Linked Clinical Trials interface
Now I’m sure you’ll agree that this sounds nifty. It’s definitely a ‘nice-to-have’. But why was it worth all the effort? Well, simply put: “to move a mountain, you begin by carrying away the small stones”.
Science communication in its current form is an anachronism, or at the very least somewhat redundant.
You may have read about the ‘crisis in reproducibility’. Good science, at its heart, should be testable, falsifiable and reproducible, but an historical over-emphasis on results has led to a huge number of problems that seriously undermine the integrity of the scientific literature.
This is, of course, nothing new. Calls for prospective registration of clinical trials date back to the 1980s and it is now becoming increasingly commonplace, recognising that the quality of research lies in the questions it asks and the methods it uses, not the results observed.
Uptake of trial registration year-on-year since 2000
Building on this, a number of journals and funders – starting with BioMed Central’s Trialsover 10 years ago – have also pushed for the prospective publication of a study’s protocol and, more recently, statistical analysis plan. The idea that null and non-confirmatory results have value and should be published has also gained increasing support.
Over the last ten years, there has been a general trend towards increasing transparency. So what is the problem? Well, to borrow an analogy from Jeremy Grimshaw, co-Editor-in-Chief of Trials – we’ve gone from Miró to Pollock.
Although a results paper may reference a published study protocol, there is nothing to link that report to subsequent published articles; and no link from the protocol itself to the results article.
A single clinical trial can result in multiple publications: the study protocol and traditional results paper or papers, as well as commentaries, secondary analyses and, eventually, systematic reviews, among others, many published in different journals, years apart. This situation is further complicated by an ever-growing body of literature.
Researchers need access to all of these articles if they are to reliably evaluate bias or selective reporting in a research object, but – as any systematic reviewer can tell you – actually finding them all is like looking for a needle in a haystack. When you don’t know how many needles there are. With the haystack still growing.
That’s where we come in. The advent of trial registration means that there is a unique identifier associated with every clinical trial, at the study-level, rather than the article level. Building on this, the Linked Clinical Trials project set out to connect all articles relating to an individual trial together using its trial registration number (TRN).
By adapting the existing Crossmark standard, we have captured additional metadata about an article, namely the TRN and the trial registry, with this information then associated with the article’s DOI on publication. This means that you will be able to pull all articles related to an individual clinical trial from the Crossmark dialogue box on any relevant article.
This obviously has huge implications for the way science is reported and used. By quickly and easily linking to related published articles, it will enable editors, reviewers and researchers to evaluate any selective reporting in the study, and help to provide far greater context for the results.
As all the metadata will be open access (CC0), with no copyright, it will also be possible to access this article ‘thread’ through the Crossref Metadata Search, or independently through an application programming interface (API). This provides a platform for others to build on, with many already looking to take the next step, such as Ben Goldacre’s new Open Trials initiative.
However, in order for this to work, we must capture as many articles and trials as possible to create a truly comprehensive thread of publications. We currently have data from the NIHR Libraries, PLoS and, of course, BioMed Central, but need more publishers and journals to join us in depositing clinical trial metadata. After all, without metadata, this is all merely wishful thinking.
Let’s hope we’re the pebble that starts the landslide.