New to the SCN: Wikidata for Scholarly Communication Librarianship

This is the latest post in a series announcing resources created for the Scholarly Communication Notebook, or SCN. The SCN is a hub of open teaching and learning content on scholcomm topics that is both a complement to an open book-level introduction to scholarly communication librarianship and a disciplinary and course community for inclusively sharing models and practices. IMLS funded the SCN in 2019, permitting us to pay creators for their labor while building a solid initial collection. These works are the result of one of three calls for proposals (our first CFP was issued in fall 2020; the second in late spring ‘21, and the third in late fall 2021).

Today we’re excited to share “Wikidata for Scholarly Communication Librarianship” (available via Pressbooks and in the SCN OER Commons Hub). This work was created by Jere Odell, Mairelys Lemus-Rojas, and Lucille Brys, who we think have done a fantastic job presenting a somewhat technical topic in a clear and consumable way, with activities to help apply knowledge gained. Here they are to introduce Wikidata for Scholarly Communication Librarianship:

Have you ever wondered if your work to support open access will be lost to a new kind of data market? Do you wish you could do something to push back against a scholarly communication ecosystem that rewards the usual suspects? Have you ever wondered what it would look like if citation data lived in the commons and not in the pockets of for-profit, “information analytics” companies? Have you heard about Wikidata, but wonder how you might get started? In Wikidata for Scholarly Communication Librarianship we provide an introduction to contributing open citation data to Wikidata. We also share how contributing to Wikidata can align with your efforts to support both gender equity and open knowledge at your institution.

Wikidata for Scholarly Communication Librarianship grew from our own efforts to begin creating truly open, communally-owned author profiles for women authors on our campus. In this five-part text we provide a practical introduction to Wikidata with suggested activities for people that work on scholarly communication projects in academic libraries.

In Chapter 1, we introduce the open knowledge base and Wikipedia-related project, Wikidata. We also give readers basic steps for creating an account, editing their user page, and enabling useful account preferences and gadgets. After reading Chapter 1, readers will be ready to make their first edits to a Wikidata entry.

In Chapter 2, we describe the data model that makes Wikidata a powerful linked open data (LOD) environment. The structure of the triples in Wikidata are expressed as Items, Properties, and Values. These statements make the building blocks that facilitate the connections between entities (e.g., authors and their works). The chapter also provides a short list of useful properties when editing existing or creating new entries for scholarly authors and their works. On completion of this chapter, readers will be ready to add a missing statement with a supporting reference to an entry for an author or a scholarly article.

In Chapter 3, we introduce the concept of “open citations” and describe recent initiatives to establish a body of open citation data that would enable researchers and others to be less reliant on proprietary, citation databases. Wikidata interacts with these initiatives as an open knowledge base for using and enhancing open citation data.

In Chapter 4, we briefly review gender inequities in scholarly communication and open knowledge projects. We demonstrate how Wikidata can be used to partly address these gender inequities and propose a model gender statement that could be cautiously used in Wikidata entries for authors.

In Chapter 5, we provide a short summary of selected tools that we have found useful for  contributing data to Wikidata as well as for visualizing the content related to authors and their works. These tools include Scholia, a web-based application that renders scholarly profiles based on Wikidata’s data. Using Scholia and the approaches described in the prior chapters, libraries can work toward generating faculty profiles for authors. By making use of freely available data, libraries can minimize the need for proprietary profile systems.

If you are interested in learning more about Wikidata in the context of scholarly communication, we encourage you to check out this work and hope you find it useful.

About the Authors

Jere Odell (0000-0001-5455-1471) works as a Scholarly Communication Librarian at IUPUI University Library. By supporting a broad range of open access initiatives at IUPUI, Jere hopes to do a small part toward building a culture where anyone can contribute to and benefit from open knowledge.

Mairelys Lemus-Rojas (0000-0002-3727-2187) works as the Head of Metadata Services at Brown University and previously as the Open Knowledge Librarian at IUPUI. As a proponent of open knowledge, she is committed to democratizing knowledge by improving the representation of underserved and underrepresented subjects and communities through the repurpose and reuse of curated data in open infrastructures.

Lucille Brys (0000-0002-9521-6685) is an Open Knowledge Specialist for University Library at IUPUI. She loves creating open metadata for digital collections and Wikidata entries for IUPUI authors and their works.