We are pleased to learn that the ticTOCs Best Practice Recommendation Group has released their “Recommendations on RSS Feeds for Scholarly Publishers” document (https://oxford.crossref.org/best_practice/rss) last week. The recommendations are based on early work developed by Malcolm Moffat at ICBL, Heriot-Watt University.
Undoubtedly, a wide adoption of these guidelines by publishers is very important for aggregators, projects and services that reuse the content of journal TOC RSS feeds, and more importantly, would benefit researchers and publishers.
Feedback and comments on the released Recommendations can be sent to email@example.com.
So far, the work done by the journalTOCs API Project has made apparent the need for more elements in the XML structure proposed by the Recommendations for journal TOC RSS feeds:
(A) Elements to provide information on the frequency of updates or how often the TOC RSS feed is updated. Without that information the automatic CRON jobs that are periodically crawling the RSS feeds, waste resources because they cannot synchronize their update schedules with the time when the TOC RSS feeds have been changed or updated. Including elements from standard RDF modules can alleviate this issue, although probably that will not be as efficient as the solution provided by using server extensions such as the Apache module “mod_oai”, which is used by OAI-PMH harvesters to efficiently discover updates and additions on subsequent re-harvestings.
We suggest the use of three RDF 1.0 Module Syndication elements to handle the frequency of updates. sy:updatePeriod to describe the period over which the channel format is updated. sy:updateFrequency to describe the frequency of updates in relation to the update period. sy:updateBase to calculate the publishing schedule. Further information on the Syndication module can be found at https://web.resource.org/rss/1.0/modules/syndication.
(B) An element to identify the institution or the affiliation of authors. Unambiguous identification of authors of scholarly papers is already a big challenge. Nowadays, there is no service or mechanism able to resolve the identification of an author. However, if the publishers would provide the affiliation for their authors, the possibilities of identifying authors from the TOC RSS feeds’ metadata could increase dramatically. As we have mentioned in our “Author Affiliation” comments posted in Oct 12th, 09; the use of the dc:contributor element to capture authors’ affiliations should be recommended to publishers. Kindly read the above mentioned post for further details on using this Dublin Core element.
We hope that publishers pay attention and implement the best practices and recommendations produced by the ticTOCs Project, only then their TOC RSS feeds will be truly reusable.