Collection, Curation, Citation at Source: Publication@Source 10 Years On

  • Jeremy Frey
  • Simon J. Coles
  • Colin Bird
  • Cerys Willoughby


The Southampton chemical information group had its genesis in 2001, when we began an e-Science pilot project to investigate structure-property mapping, combinatorial chemistry, and the Grid. CombeChem instigated a range of activities that have since been underway for more than ten years, in many ways matching the expansion of interest in using the Web as a vehicle for collection, curation, dissemination, reuse, and exploitation of scientific data and information. Chemistry has frequently provided the exemplar case studies, notably for the series of projects – funded by Jisc and EPSRC – that investigated the issues associated with the long-term preservation of data to support the scholarly knowledge cycle, such as the eBank UK project.

Rapid developments in Internet access and mobile technology have significantly influenced the way researchers view connectivity, data standards, and the increasing importance and power of semantics and the Semantic Web. These technical advances interact strongly with the social dimension and have led to a reconsideration of the responsibilities of researchers for the quality of their research and for satisfying the requirements of modern stakeholders. Such obligations have given rise to discussions about Open Access and Open Data, creating a range of alternatives that are now technically feasible but need to be socially acceptable. Business plans are changing too, but in a strange contradiction, desire can run ahead of what is possible, sensible, and affordable, while lagging behind in imagination of what would be technically possible and potentially game-changing!

Taking the chemical sciences as our example and focusing on the curation of research data, we explore from our perspective, ten years back and ten years forward, how far we have been able to re-imagine the data/information value pathway from bench to publication. We assess not only the major advances and changes that have been achieved, but also where we have been less successful than we might have hoped. We explore the directions for the future, based on what is clearly already possible and on what we can envisage becoming feasible in the near future.

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