Yesterday an announcement went out to the Semantic Web interest group mailing list introducing openacademia 1.0, "an RDF-based publication repository for research groups and scientific communities".

As the documentation explains, openacademia "is an open source publication metadata repository for scientific communities. Our goal is to allow scientists to collect, organize and disseminate publications more efficiently using a combination of novel semantic technologies". The software which can be run locally, e.g. within a group of institutions, allows users to deposit metadata about their publications which can then be shared with others as RSS feeds, etc.

The software supports BibText, which is used by many scholars to maintain and format bibliographies, making it easy to add data to the system. APIs are available to extract data from the repository (which is based on Sesame). There are some nice tools for visualising topics between papers, graphs of author relationships, etc. The RSS feeds contain detailed metadata about each paper and author.

I'm going to have a more detailed look at the system over the coming weeks, but it intrigues me as their approach echoes our own adoption of RDF and Semantic Web technologies for aggregating and storing RDF metadata. Indeed many of the vocabularies are also shared, for example they're using FOAF to describe authors. The more publishing data that becomes available as RDF, the better the network effects become.

We're currently considering ways to open up our own repository for people to explore. Part of the technology partner role we play for publishers is ensuring that their content reaches the widest audience and is accessible as possible. With a growing number of applications exposing Semantic Web data, access to RDF and SPARQL interfaces will be just as important as "traditional" and community specific interfaces such as OpenURL, and ZING. Historically there's been some disconnects between the library and publisher communities on how they store, manage and share metadata. As we're firmly in-between these communities I'm hoping we can start to help bridge these gaps, and I'm convinced that Semantic Web technologies can help.