Thursday, November 26, 2020

Wikicite from the ground up: understanding wildfires

The world has to deal with climate change and one of its effects is the severity of wildfires. One paper on the subject is "Can trophic rewilding reduce the impact of fire in a more flammable world?" It is only one paper, there are others. It caught my attention after watching YouTube about goats and blogging about rewilding..

When I found the paper, it did not have any "cites work" statements. In the PDF of the paper, references to 91 other works can be found. Text in a PDF is problematic; you may scrape the titles and search for a match but you won't find them in Wikidata even when they are there. This is because of missing spaces and special characters that are different in Wikidata. It has been a lot of work finding and linking many of the citations. 

The effect of these references on the Scholia for the paper is staggering. It demonstrates the power of open data; authors of the cited papers are shown, there is an accumulation of the papers they have in common. The associated subjects are shown and have their own weight. 

The papers informs that there are 91 cited papers, at this time only 54 papers have been linked. All of them have a title, a DOI. The Scholia presentation is the best we have for the paper but it is as a consequence incomplete. Why not have a "Cites work string"? Combined with attributes like "series ordinal" and "DOI" even "Main subject" it completes missing information for the paper. Bots can pick up on this, check Wikidata for the DOI, add the paper when we do not have it and even replace the string when it is with the process of checking and importing papers. 

When people take the effort of understanding a subject like "wildfires" and enrich important papers, the power of their work followed by the work done by bots opens up scholarly papers even more to the people who care to learn from the scholarly papers themselves.

Thanks, GerardM

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