Jonathan Rochkind wrote:

Call me pedantic but if you do not have an identifier than there is no hope to identity the publication by means of metadata. You only *describe* it with metadata and use additional heuristics (mostly search engines) to hopefully identify the publication based on the description.
But the entire OpenURL infrastructure DOES this, and does it without using search engines. It's a real world use case that has a solution in production! So, yeah, I call you pedantic for wanting to pretend the use case and the real world solution doesn't exist. :)

As you said OpenURL is an *infrastructure*. It only makes sense if you have resolvers that map an OpenURL to a unique publications. This resolvers do the identification while OpenURL only describes (as long as you do not put a unique publication identifier into an OpenURL). In contrast an identifier can be used to compare and search publications without any additional infrastructure.

You can call it "description" rather than "identification" if you like, that is a question of terminology. But it's description that is meant to uniquely identify a particular publication, and that a whole bunch of software in use every day succesfully uses to identify a particular publication.

It's not just terminology if you can either just compare two strings for equalness (identifcation) or you need an infrastructure with knowledge bases and specific software (to make use of a description).

OpenURL is of no use if you seperate it from the existing infrastructure which is mainly held by companies. No sane person will try to build an open alternative infrastructure because OpenURL is a crapy library-standard like MARC etc. This rant on OpenURL summarizes it well:

The OpenURL specification is a 119 page PDF - that alone is a reason to run away as fast as you can.

If a twitter annotation setup wants to be able to identify publications that don't have standard identifiers, then you don't want to ignore this use case and how actually in production software currently deals with it. You can perhaps find a better way to deal with it -- I'm certainly not arguing for OpenURL as the be all end all, I rather hate OpenURL actually. But dismissing it as "impossible" is indeed pedantic, since it's being done!

If a twitter annotation setup wants to get adopted than it should not be build on a crapy complex library standard like OpenURL.

> It IS a hacky and error-prone solution, to be sure.   But it's the
> best solution we've got, because it's simply a fact that we have many
> publications we want to identify that lack standard identifiers.

Ok, back to serious: Bibliographic Twitter annotations should be designed in a way that libraries (or whoever provides that knowledge bases aka OpenURL resolvers) can use it to look up a publication by its metadata. So there should be a transformation

Twitter annotation => OpenURL

If you choose CSL as bibliographic input format you can hopefully create a CSL style that does not produce a citation but an OpenURL - Voilà!

I must admit that this solution is based on the open assumption that CSL record format contains all information needed for OpenURL which may not the case. A good point to start from is the function createContextObject in

which is used by Zotero to create OpenURLs.


Jakob Voß <>, skype: nichtich
Verbundzentrale des GBV (VZG) / Common Library Network
Platz der Goettinger Sieben 1, 37073 Göttingen, Germany
+49 (0)551 39-10242,

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