‘Do you come here often?’ Starting the conversation on DOI’s for Book Chapters

The story so far...

Last February, I was taking part in a panel at Research 2 Reader and one of the questions asked was ‘What can publishers do to help?’. You can see our full answers on the video, but my answer was to systematically assign DOI’s for book chapters. There were a few discussions about this after the panel, but it also started a process for me – How could we do this? Is it even possible?

Book chapters are a major form of research output for us as an institution. We are looking at supporting a wide variety of new forms of outputs (twitter archives anyone?) and yet not book chapters. Book chapters are complicated in many ways – they can be open, closed, print, ebook (in a variety of formats), updated in a new edition, included in a new edition but remain identical to in the earlier edition, monograph or edited collections. Most publishers will allow an author to deposit one chapter from a book in the repository, so where we have an edited collection with one author at Kent, we can archive a chapter (which represents the entirety of the Kent contribution) but with a monograph, one chapter is a small fraction of the overall output.

There are many scholarly communication systems that use DOI to integrate with – ORCID, Kudos, output level metrics to highlight a few, that chapters could easily take advantage of, so how best to increase the visibility and use of these outputs? At a very basic level, there were ways that we could solve this for Kent – we give data a DOI, why not book chapters? In considering the implications of this – from divorcing the chapter from its surrounding chapters, we lose a sense of the whole output to the risk of multiple DOI’s for a single output as co-authors follow similar practices at other institutions, I started looking around at other solutions.

Dr Gareth Cole (Research Data Manager, Loughborough University & OSC Advisory group member) and I prepared a bid for the altmetric funding call. Although this was unsuccessful, it had led us to start conversations with stakeholders in the wider academic book community. In conducting the research for the bid, we found that Open Book Publishers consistently assign book chapter DOI’s, as well as separate DOI’s for embedded content.

Altmetric invited us to present at a publisher day they were hosting (slides are here) as a chance for Gareth, Rupert Gatti from Open Book Publishers and I to speak to publishers about book chapters, the challenges and opportunities from a non- institutional point of view, and the same from a publisher point of view. There were some very interesting conversations as a result of this – some of the key points were:

  • An overwhelming sense that this should be a co-operative solution, that publishers should be assigning DOI’s, that DOI providers should provide guidance on best practice and that institutions should work to promote it to researchers but that there are significant challenges, including issues such as hierarchy and smaller publishers using 3rd party platforms.
  • That this is a direction that some publishers are moving in (Springer and Taylor & Francis) already, but there is not (yet) a consistency of practice.
  • Where DOI’s are allocated, as researchers are not familiar with them being available for book chapters, they are not getting the benefits that are possible from them.

So… what next?

We would like to establish a community of practice regarding DOI’s for book chapters – we have already spoken to many stakeholders informally, but would like to bring as many people as possible together, to find a systematic way through the challenges and to increase access to the significant work that we are publishing in book chapters. If you would like to be involved, or know of someone we should invite, please contact me.

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