Headshot of NISO Eexecutive Director, Todd Carpenter

September 2017

Communicating clear, concise, and accurate information is one element of scientific information exchange that can have tremendous impact. We have seen examples of these communication qualities over the past month and even this week as the National Hurricane Center and NOAA track the hurricanes heading toward the southern states of the U.S. and nearby islands. We owe the agencies that support the systems necessary to forecast and predict these events a debt of gratitude; the devastation could be significantly worse without the knowledge about impending storm activity and advance warning that these scientists provide. Some criticize the agencies' minor inaccuracies, but on the whole, those fall within the margins of error that result from trying to understand tremendously complex systems. We should look beyond occasional inaccuracies and praise the processes, systems, and scientists that produce even the simplest weather forecast map.

The technology involved in weather forecasting is astounding and the data gathering, interoperability, computational needs, and preservation aspects involved are some of the most intense data processing challenges in science. Data is gathered from satellites, buoys, and surface observation stations. Related computer models have developed over decades, with input from curated observational data. The mix of observational-data gathering, data science, computational power, and data management that results in a reliable forecast is one of the true wonders of science.

While I often joke that the work that we perform in the information sciences isn't saving lives, in some ways it is. Our work allows scientists to gather the data and resources necessary to calculate the storms' paths, study the potential effects on health after floods to avoid disease outbreaks, and learn from previous events to improve response. Especially as these storms seem to grow in intensity, the officials and first responders on the ground confronting them--as well everyone else impacted--will need all the information and support they can get. Information science supports the chain of data gathering that goes into preparing for a hurricane and the work that ensures plans are well executed. Most libraries also provide a community gathering point after a disaster. There are fewer and fewer communal spaces, and public libraries, in particular, provide an essential, free communal space in times of need.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those facing the devastation that these storms bring to our friends and family, our NISO colleagues, and fellow countrymen and women. Be safe, everyone.

Todd Carpenter’s Signature

Todd Carpenter

Executive Director

NISO Reports

Case Study; Bruce Rosenblum of Inera on JATS

NISO recently spoke to Bruce Rosenblum, CEO of NISO Voting member Inera, Inc., about the development of ANSI/NISO Z39.96, JATS: Journal Article Tag Suite. JATS provides a standard XML format in which publishers, archives, and others in the journal publishing ecosystem can exchange metadata and full text of journal articles.

Can you give readers some background on why JATS was needed?
By 2001, the ISO 12083 standard for journal articles [ISO 12083:1994, Information and documentation -- Electronic manuscript preparation and markup] was not widely adopted, having been described as, "way too complicated, yet it is not flexible enough." As a result, most publishers who had implemented SGML had created custom DTDs, and many publishers had not even started such projects due to their cost and complexity.

Inera was approached in 2001 by Harvard University and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to look at format issues for long-term archiving of electronic journal articles. At the time, some publishers were beginning to create online-only journals and people in libraries were beginning to ask how to archive these materials.

In our first conversation with Harvard, we determined two things: PDF was not a viable archive format, and XML was usable as an archive format, but each publisher had its own DTD. We were asked if it would be possible to create a single archive DTD that could be used as a common format to preserve the intellectual property of all journals.

We performed a month-long study that examined DTDs from 10 different publishers and determined that the model could be built, but the estimate cost was prohibitive. After further exploration, collaboration with PubMed Central seemed possible. PubMed's DTD wasn't quite where we needed it to be for Harvard's use, but their consultant was Mulberry [NISO Voting Member Mulberry Technologies, Inc.]. A meeting took place that included me, Debbie Lapeyre [Mulberry Technologies, Inc.], Jeff Beck [The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)], David Lipman [NCBI], Don Waters [Andrew W. Mellon Foundation], and Dale Flecker [Harvard University Libraries]. At the meeting's end, Debbie, Jeff, and I were asked to collaborate on a DTD that would meet Mellon and Harvard's requirements. (The archive was later built as Portico.)

What was the result of that collaboration?
It took a year to develop NLM version 1.0 [the predecessor to JATS], and it became clear to us during that time that it would be pretty neat! It would be better documented than proprietary DTDs and really flexible. It would also be in the public domain as it was NLM- and Mellon-funded. When we were getting close to the one-year mark, I was working with an Australian journal publisher CSIRO, and they needed a DTD. They didn't want to build their own, and they were considering Blackwell's and Elsevier's. I asked Harvard and Mellon if CSIRO could use what we were developing. Permission was granted, and CSIRO became the first organization to adopt it. They were even ahead of NLM and Portico (which didn't yet exist).

Between 2003 and 2007, a growing number of publishers and delivery platforms adopted the NLM DTD and as a vendor, Inera encouraged organizations to adopt it. Wider adoption meant we could develop our product in a less custom and more standard fashion, which allowed us to provide our eXtyles software to customers at a lower cost. This proved critical for us as a vendor; we adopted the nascent standard early on and found it a great way to offer our product to a wider range of customers and build our business. And we're not the only company to benefit--the standard works for anyone touching journal article XML, including conversion vendors and online hosts, providing economies of scale that trickle to those companies' customers in turn.

It was not difficult to get vendors to take on this ANSI/NISO standard, because vendors do what their customers tell them. If customers say they want JATS, that's what vendors will do. They will ask, for example, for XML that will be accepted by PubMed central, which requires JATS. In other cases, publishers just ask vendors for XML because they know they should have it, and vendors will default to JATS because they have an efficient workflow for it. In this regard, adoption of the standard is a happy accident.

How did NISO become involved?
Once the DTD began to have legs, we started to hear grumblings: "It's from NLM, it must be only for medicine." But the NLM DTD team was focused as much on non-science as on science content, meaning that we realized, for example, that we needed to account for Greek footnotes in an English language archeology journal. We also knew that significant adoption would only happen if it were a real, not a de facto, standard. And since NISO had many other standards related to scholarly publishing, it made a logical home. So that's how it came to NISO.

By about 2006 or 2007 we cleaned up our work and made it known that that our upcoming version would be the last fully backwards compatible NLM DTD one. We then moved the work to NISO, which released JATS 1.0 in 2012. Now the standard is at the point where if we break backwards compatibility, we would need to give a few years notice.

Many of the same people are working on JATS, BITS [an extension of JATS for books], and STS [NISO Standards Tag Suite]. Collectively, we have now made ground rules for all of those standards so as to avoid mistakes. During a 2017 presentation at JATS-Con, the JATS metamodel was presented, which includes rules for moving ahead and being strategic rather than tactical. Success has bred its own problems: we now get more requests than previously for additions and improvements. The JATS Standing Committee works to address new requirements. The JATS standard has created its own community, including the annual JATS-Con conference, the JATS email group, and the JATS4R group.

Has the NISO version of the standard been widely adopted?
There has been wide adoption of JATS in scholarly publishing. The only significant exceptions are Elsevier, Springer, and Wiley-Blackwell, as they had proprietary XML models predating JATS. But they are all able to move into and out of JATS where necessary.

JATS has been more successful than we ever imagined. In many ways, it was an accident waiting to happen. By the time the NLM DTD got out the door, people were really looking for an off-the-shelf XML standard. A large part of the market was locked out of going toward XML without such a standard.

Now the success of JATS seems like a foregone conclusion, but it wasn't always. If any single publisher had said that they were going to make what they had done freely available as a standard, people would have wondered what they had up their sleeve. But our work came out of a skunkworks project--we didn't set out to create a standard, we tried to solve a problem. When others saw that work was open, well-documented, and extensible, they chose to adopt it rather than re-invent it.

What's next?
Even though publishing in the Internet age is changing daily, the JATS Standing Committee has decided to be retrospective, meaning that we only make changes based on established needs. In order to add something to JATS, there has to be a documented use case. We also try to be thoughtful and not act too quickly. For example, in late 2007, I returned from Japan and realized that multi-script text, like author names in Japanese articles, wasn't supported. Initially, we thought: "Stop the presses! We have no way to markup an author's name in multiple scripts." But then the Standing Committee decided that implementing this feature needed more thought as there was no simple way to add it. We decided not to squeeze this capability into NLM 3.0, but waited until the JATS 0.4 draft. The final result is a very flexible mechanism that supports more than Japanese names. But that support was critical to Japan's national commitment in 2011 that all journal articles are in JATS. Similar national commitments have come from Brazil and Mexico. So we're responding to needs, but doing it thoughtfully.

Now we're working on JATS version 1.2. We've had requests for new elements, improved documentation, more use cases, and more best-practice information. We just encountered a real-world scenario that requires a tweak to the standard; it's CRediT, CASRAI's guidance on how to give authors credit for their work. This new taxonomy is used in tenure evaluation and is catching on quickly because of needs in publishing. A preprint went up recently on BioRxiv that recommended ORCID and CRediT should be used by all journals. While JATS 1.1 supports CRediT, the Standing Committee realized that we could provide a more sustainable model for CRediT and other taxonomies with an update. This new model has been proposed for JATS 1.2, and also appears in relation to subject taxonomies in the forthcoming ANSI/NISO STS standard. It was especially cool for me to watch this new idea being "baked" in both the STS and JATS Standing Committee simultaneously and to see how well it turned out for both groups.

Bruce Rosenblum is CEO of publishing technology company Inera, Inc. He served on NISO's Board of Directors from 2005 to 2013, is a member of the JATS Standing Committee, and is currently co-chair of the steering and technical working groups that are developing NISO Standards Tag Suite (STS).

NISO Professional Development Events in September and October

Digital and Data Literacy: A Two Part Webinar from NISO

  • Part One - Identifying Demands on Students, Faculty and Librarians
    Wednesday, September 13, 2017
    1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. (Eastern)
  • Part Two - Satisfying the Need
    Wednesday, September 20, 2017
    1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. (Eastern)

Digital literacy. Data literacy. Those are just buzz phrases. Or are they? What degree of expertise should students and faculty have in order to effectively wrangle data and/or work with digital assets? What are the basic requirements in the modern workplace or laboratory? It's no longer a question of mastering word processing or spreadsheets. Whether it is data science or digital humanities, what enables us and qualifies us to work with digital assets? And since data and digital literacy have varying skill requirements for different populations, how do we know what to set about learning?

The second portion of this two-part event is scheduled for September 20, 2017. With the first segment having identified gaps in understanding, this follow-up segment will feature case studies from institutions that have assumed leadership roles in training students and faculty in emerging tools and methodologies for working with digital materials and generating new digital assets.

Part One - Identifying Demands on Students, Faculty, and Librarians

Digital Literacy for Artistic Researchers and Practitioners
Madelyn Washington,
Digital Learning Librarian, Berklee College of Music

Digital Literacy's Faculty Demands and Needs from Faculty Perspectives
John M. Sloop,
Associate Provost, Digital Learning, Vanderbilt University

Libraries' Support of Media and Data Literacy
Katy Kavanagh Webb,
Head, Research & Instructional Services, East Carolina University Libraries

For the abstracts and biographies contributed by these September 13 speakers, please visit the NISO event page.

Part Two - Satisfying the Need

Creating Data Literate Students
Jo Angela Oehrli, Learning Librarian, University of Michigan Libraries

Digital Literacy across the Curriculum
Kyle Dickson,
Professor, Department of Language and Linguistics, Abilene Christian University

Facilitating the Development of Research Data Management Services at Health Sciences Libraries
Kevin Read,
Knowledge Management Librarian, Emergency Medicine and the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, New York University Health Sciences Library and Alisa Surkis, Head, Data Services/Translational Science Librarian, New York University Health Sciences Library

For the abstracts and biographies contributed by these September 20 speakers, please visit the NISO event page.

NISO Training Program: Working with Scholarly Information Resource RESTful APIs
Course Dates: Consecutive Fridays, Sept 15 - Nov 3; 11:30am - 1:00 pm (Eastern)

To provide consistency of training and a baseline of knowledge across the information community for appropriate use of APIs using the HTTP REST paradigm for scholarly resources across multiple information services and systems.

Who Can Benefit from This Online Training:

  • Early career content professionals working in editorial/production environments of small to mid-size scholarly societies or similar publishing entities
  • Early or mid-career programmers and developers working in libraries and seeking to make use of APIs provided by organizations in the scholarly communications ecosystem
  • Mid-career managers or supervisors whose roles require them to be familiar with multiple information systems and platforms and the relevant APIs that support transfer of information between those systems

Note: Each consecutive Friday session will last for at least ninety minutes and some may last two full hours. It will not be possible to register for individual program segments or lectures.

Course Instructor: Peter Murray is the Open Source Community Advocate at Index Data, a software development and consulting enterprise with expertise in networked information retrieval and management based on open standards. He received an MLIS from Simmons College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Systems Analysis from Miami University. Peter's current activities include building relationships among libraries, organizations, and service providers participating in the FOLIO open source library service platform project. His other interests include promoting awareness and integration of privacy-supporting tools into library services, the application of JPEG 2000 for long-term access and preservation of still and moving image content, distributed identity management systems, and--with the moniker "The Disruptive Library Technology Jester"--the rapid advancement of library services in a social web world.

XML for Standards Publishers: A NISO Live Connections Event
Geneva, Switzerland
Monday, October 9, 2017, 9:00am - 5:00pm (CET)

Sponsoring Organizations: ASME, Data Conversion Laboratory, Edaptive Technologies, Inera, Innodata, Higher Logic, MadCad, Typefi, and XSB.

Standards have been traditionally delivered as PDF documents. Yet in a world where standards are increasingly monetized through derivative products, exchanged between partners, and consumed on mobile devices, PDF does not provide the flexibility needed to meet current and future market demands.

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) is hosting this event for standards publishers as an aid to the understanding of how XML provides the key to solve all of these issues, improve publishing processes, and add business value to an organization.

Attendees at this symposium will learn how XML can:

  • * Facilitate interoperability between standards organizations
  • Aid content reuse for additional products and revenue
  • Reduce costs to publish with standards-based publishing systems
  • Create multiple publication formats for different devices
  • Support accessible publications for people who are visually impaired

Confirmed speakers:
Laurent Galichet,
Head of Publishing, Senior Leader, ISO
Rob Wheeler, Director, Publishing Technology, ASME
Lesley West, Director, Product Development, ASTM International
Bruce Rosenblum, CEO, Inera
Rupert Hopkins, CEO, XSB
Chandi Perera, CEO, Typefi
Others to be announced soon!

NISO Webinar: Strategic Directions: Strategic Thinking: Five Years Ahead
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. (Eastern)
This webinar will be driven by discussion of five significant trends (as identified by the global community of libraries) and the long-term ramifications. How are emerging technologies re-shaping existing legal protections and what does that mean for users and providers of digital content in a networked world? Can we rely on online education technologies to produce a more highly educated workforce? Will the networks of information and communication technologies enable collaboration as anticipated? How much personal data ought a provider to expect in exchange for content access? How far does the right of privacy extend? Information and communication technologies (ICT) are having an impact on human interactions and transactions. How will those transactions look in 2022?

Confirmed Participants:
Keith Webster,
Dean of Libraries, Carnegie Mellon University
Sayeed Choudhury, Associate Dean for Research Data Management; Hodson Director of the Digital Research and Curation Center, Johns Hopkins University
Rick Luce, Dean, University Libraries, University of Oklahoma
MacKenzie Smith, University Librarian, University of California, Davis

New on the NISO Website

Slides from the August 9 webinar Spotlight: Supporting Access to the Internet in Under-Served Communities

Slides from the August 16 Virtual Conference Research Information Networks: The Connections Enabling Collaboration

Media Stories

BISG Revises Governance Structure to Better Serve Members
BISG News, August 28, 2017; by Kim Graff

"On August 24, the Board of Directors of the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) voted to change the organization's bylaws to provide segment-specific representation within the Board; open up the nominating process to all members; and increase participation opportunities for members, including three new advisory groups and an Association Advisory Council."

Using and Preserving Born-Digital Research Collections
Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), August 2, 2017; by Dr. Ashley E. Sands

This past April, IMLS announced grants made through the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program (NLG) and the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian program (LB21). This post discusses the funded projects that relate to the preservation of born-digital collections, including work to develop emulation and software preservation services, preserve born-digital architectural and design records, and investigate the interoperability of open source digital library tools for content curation.

Managing Audiovisual Research Data: Five Things You Need to Know
Jisc blog, August 1, 2017; by Caroline Ingram

Ingram offers here her top takeaways ("Make it a team effort," "Make sure researchers know what they want") from Jisc's new Audiovisual Research Data guide, which was created in response to demand from academic institutions. The document itself provides far more than five ideas, detailing risks to audiovisual research data and how to plan effectively for dealing with this material for the long haul.

IFLA 2016 Satellite Meeting Proceedings: Libraries as Publishers: Building a Global Community
Journal of Electronic Publishing 20 (2), Summer 2017

Libraries around the world impart perspectives on their work as publishers in this themed issue of the Journal of Electronic Publishing. Two of the articles take continent-wide perspectives, looking at work in Latin America and Africa, whereas other pieces are much more locally focused, describing projects at Georgetown Law Library and Stockholm University Press, for example.

Draft National Archives Strategic Plan 2018-2022
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), August 25, 2017

NARA's draft strategic plan for the upcoming four years outlines the agency's mission, vision, and values, and strategic goals. The document also describes plans for producing "Transformational Outcomes" in the years to come.

New and Proposed Specs and Standards

ISNI Organizations Registry: identifying Organizations in the Supply Chain

"The ISNI International Agency Ltd (ISNI-IA) today announces changes to its infrastructure focused on providing open identifiers for organizations working in the field of scholarly communications. The ISNI Organizations Registry will enable organizations to change and correct their own records and allow the research community to identify author affiliations persistently and authoritatively, thereby supporting analysis of research output and impact."

NIST Crafts Next-Generation Safeguards for Information Systems and the Internet of Things

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued a draft fifth revision of Special Publication 800-53, Security and Privacy Controls for Information Systems and Organizations, which addresses federal government information security.

Current ISO Ballots

NISO Voting Members participate in the development, revision, and evaluation of standards. Voting Members are able to influence the standards process and mold the future of the industry. The following ballots are open and will close before the next issue of Newsline. If you are a NISO Voting Member, log into your NISO page and you'll see the ballots linked there.

ISO TC 46/SC 11, ISO/FDIS 23081-1 (Ed 2)
This document covers the principles that underpin and governrecords management metadata. These principles are applicable to: - records and their metadata; - all processes that affect them; - any system in which they reside; - any organization that is responsible for their management.

This ballot closes on September 8, 2017.

ISO TC 46/SC 11, ISO/FDIS 17068, Information and documentation -- Trusted third party repository for digital records
This document specifies requirements for a trusted third party repository (TTPR) to support the authorized custody service in order to safeguard provable integrity and authenticity of clients' digital records and serve as a source of reliable evidence.

This ballot closes on September 15, 2017.

TC 46 DIS ISO CD 8, Information and documentation - Presentation and Identification of Periodicals
This International Standard contains recommendations intended to enable editors and publishers of periodicals to identify and present key information in a form that will help users discover, cite and access their information over time and through any changes.

This ballot closes on September 29, 2017.