For more than 12 years, the Microsoft Academic Search, later renamed to just Microsoft Academic and eventually to Microsoft Academic Graph (MAG), had been the software giant’s scholarly bibliographic information service. Despite it being one of the most comprehensive collections across all scientific fields out there, Microsoft obviously never envisioned MAG to be a lasting infrastructure for the community, but rather a playground for certain internal research and technology projects. Consequently, when Microsoft decided to pull the plug and end MAG in 2021, it came to the dismay of many researchers who were relying on MAG as a data source.
At this point, the fine people at OurResearch, who were already providing the very useful Unpaywall service, stepped in and committed to creating an open successor to the proprietary and doomed MAG data stock: OpenAlex was created as a fully open data set that describes scholarly publications, authors, venues, institutions, concepts, and their complex connections. Building on the MAG team’s earlier work, it provides an extensive public API, and all of its data is made available under the CC0 1.0 Public Domain Dedication license. The service is available since January 2022, with further parts of the website aiming to launch in September 2022.
OpenAlex derives its name from the Great Library of Alexandria, probably the most significant library of the ancient world. And the moniker indeed fits, since already in its current state, it lists more than 240 million publications and more than 250 million authors across all disciplines, as well as 120k+ publication venues, 100k+ institutions and 65k+ topical concepts. With the OurResearch team committing to constantly improving and expanding the data in its corpus, there is a high potential that OpenAlex will become an open data asset of great value to the science community and will grow even more valuable in the years to come.
A first integration
Earlier this year, we already created a first live integration of OpenAlex data in dblp that provides additional information on a publication’s details page. This integration queries the public OpenAlex API in order to retrieve information about an article which are not available from the dblp data set, like the contained concepts of an article, or its citation statistics.
As with all external-data-API integration in dblp, the OpenAlex integration are disabled by default in order to protect your privacy. In order to use the integration, you need to opt-in once by checking the “load more data from openalex.org” option in the right column of a publication’s details page.
Alternatively, you may use the settings menu in the top-right corner of the dblp website to enable the OpenAlex API. Look for the item “OpenAlex data” and check the respective box to “load data from openalex.org”.
Once enabled, whenever you visit a publication details page in dblp, your browser will automatically load further available information from the OpenAlex API. Currently, two pieces of information will be loaded. The first one is a tag cloud of the contained concepts of a paper. OpenAlex uses more than 65k different concepts, extracted from WikiData and arranged hierarchically in a tree. This concept tree is a modified version that is based on the earlier classification work done for the original MAG, and its concepts are identified by an automated classifier that was trained on MAG data.
The second piece of information is the number of (openly) known citations a paper received in recent years. Due to technical limitations of the OpenAlex API, citations older than ten years are unavailable.
Please be aware that since all of the integrated information is taken directly from OpenAlex’s live API, all information is displayed as-is, and the data is not curated by the dblp team nor is there any way for the dblp team edit or expand the data. For more information about the data it provides please consult the OpenAlex docs.
We thank the OpenAlex team for opening up and providing such a valuable resource, and we wish them all the best for OpenAlex’s full launch and beyond.