OATP conventions

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Tagging guidelines

Primary and secondary tags

  • OATP has only one primary tag, oa.new. Use this tag for OA developments that are new within the last six months, at the time of tagging. Also use it for new articles and comments about older developments.
  • Secondary tags cover OA subtopics, such as OA in a certain field, OA in a certain language, OA in a certain country, or different aspects of OA itself, such as OA through repositories, OA through journals, OA and copyright, OA business models, and so on.
  • Always use the primary tag oa.new for new items and always omit it for older items.
  • Always use the major secondary or subtopic tags, whether the item is new or old. A subtopic tag is major if it appears on the OATP list of approved tags -- which is a subset of the full list of attested tags.
    • Example: If an item is about OA in a certain field, then tag it by field (e.g. oa.anthropology, oa.biology, oa.chemistry). If a field is only mentioned incidentally, then don't bother with field tags.
    • Example: If an item is about OA in a certain country, then tag it by country (e.g. oa.argentina, oa.brazil, oa.china). If it's not about OA in a certain country, but a country is mentioned incidentally, then don't bother with country tags. The same is true for continents or regions other than countries (e.g. oa.africa, oa.balkans, oa.caribbean).
    • Example: If an item is about a certain aspect of OA, then tag it by that aspect or subtopic (e.g. oa.advocacy, oa.business_models, oa.copyright).
    • Every OATP tag generates a feed to which users can subscribe. One purpose of subtopic tags is to enable users to subscribe to the subtopics they care most about (e.g. OA in their own country, or OA in their own field, or OA of a certain kind). The more we use secondary or subtopic tags, the more we help users customize their subscriptions. Another purpose of subtopic tags is to organize knowledge in the field and support searching by tags. Again, the more we use subtopic tags, the more we help users refine their searches and find what they seek.

User-defined tags

  • Feel free to invent new tags as you go. However, try not to use a user-defined tag when there's already an existing, approved OATP tag for the same topic.
    • Example: If there's no tag for a new OA-related organization or new OA-related subtopic, feel free to create one (e.g. oa.abc, oa.xyz).
    • Example: Because we already have an approved tag, oa.people, there's no need to create a new tag for the same subtopic, like oa.personnel.
  • If you don't have time to check to see whether OATP already has an approved tag for a given topic, just invent a tag that makes sense to you. With TagTeam, OATP project managers can automatically convert synonymous tags to the same tag, or deprecated tags to approved tags. For example, TagTeam automatically converts oa.monographs and oa.ebooks to oa.books.
  • When you invent tags, please follow the OATP conventions for tag syntax, below.


  • Always add an excerpt, paraphrase, or summary in the "description" field of the TagTeam bookmarklet.
  • If the piece has an abstract, just enter "Abstract: " and then cut/paste all or part of the abstract.
  • If the piece doesn't have an abstract, then quote or paraphrase an OA-relevant passage. Your description will help OATP readers decide whether to click through to the full text. It will help them skim and learn about new developments without clicking through. It will be searchable in TagTeam (along with your tags) and help users find items on certain topics. The better your descriptions or quoted passages, the better we help users.
  • If you use a quotation, please put it in quotation marks.
    • Feel free to quote several passages separated by ellipses (e.g. "This...and this...and this...").
    • Exception: If you quote the abstract and label it as the abstract, then you needn't put it in quotation marks.
  • If your quoted description contains an acronym that many readers may not understand, spell it out in square brackets.
  • When the original file does not support cutting and pasting (e.g. a locked PDF, an image-scan, a slide presentation, a video), then either re-key an excerpt or compose your own summary, paraphrase, or description.


  • Make sure the item's title is correct in the tag record. Sometimes the TagTeam bookmarklet grabs the title of the periodical rather than the title of the article, or the title of the blog rather than the title of the blog post. Sometimes it truncates the title. Sometimes it leaves the title field blank. When the TagTeam bookmarklet form is open for you to fill out, you can see its proposal for the item title and edit it for correctness.

Use of English

  • OATP aims to cover OA-related news and developments in all countries and languages. But it aims to do so in English.
  • All descriptions should be in English.
    • If the tagged work is not in English, then the description could be the tagger's English-language summary or paraphrase, the tagger's English translation of an excerpt, or a machine translation of an excerpt.
    • If you use a machine translator like Google Translate to generate an English translation of a non-English excerpt, then put the excerpt in quotation marks and precede it with a line to this effect: "From Google's English: " We don't want readers to blame authors for the clumsy language in machine translations.
  • Titles should remain in their original language.
    • If you want to include an English translation of the title, put it in the description field.
  • The URL in the tag record should be the original URL, not the URL of a machine translation.
    • If your method of reaching a machine translation changes the URL, then don't tag the machine-translation page. Return to the original page to tag it (to call up the tagging bookmarklet). But by all means use the machine-translation page in order to decide what tags to apply and what description to use.
    • If you forget this step and notice that the URL used in the bookmarklet is the URL of a machine translation, then manually replace it with the original URL before adding the item to TagTeam.
  • User-defined tags need not be in English.
    • Example: If an article is about OA books, then tag it with English tag oa.books, but feel free to add an equivalent non-English tag as well, such as oa.libros, oa.livres, or oa.buecher.
  • When the tagged item is not in English, always use a tag for the original language (e.g. oa.arabic, oa.bulgarian, oa.chinese). If the item is not in English and is about OA in a particular country, then use both a language tag and a country tag (e.g. oa.french and oa.france).

URL parameters

  • Remove superfluous parameters from the right end of the URL of the item before you tag it. These parameters often appear to the right of the "?" character.
    • TagTeam removes duplicate records, but only treats items as duplicates when they have the same URL. Hence, removing needless URL parameters maximizes the chance that the same item will always be tagged with the same URL, and this will make best use of TagTeam's deduping feature.


  • If you want to include a conference or workshop, before or after it occurs, first tag for OATP (with oa.events plus relevant subtopic tags). Then take a moment to see whether the event is listed on the events page of the Open Access Directory (OAD). If not, please add it.
    • Please follow the format for other event entries in the OAD.
    • If you've never added information to the OAD before, you'll have to register. But registration is free and easy. Naturally the OAD is OA for reading and reuse, but it requires registration for contributors in order to limit spam.
  • People looking for events in their area (to see what they could attend), or at a given future time (to avoid conflicts for their own future events), consult the OAD Events list more often than any OA-related feed.

Items already tagged

  • If an item has already been tagged for OATP, then you will see the existing tags and description in the TagTeam bookmarklet when you try to tag the same item yourself. When this happens, you could close the bookmarklet and move on to something else. Or you could take a minute to review the tags and description, and see whether you could improve upon them.
  • If you add a tag, your new tag will be added to the OATP record for that item. If you revise a tag, your new one will be added but the original tag will remain in the database. If you delete a tag, the original will remain in the database.
    • The only way to remove a tag from the OATP database is within TagTeam itself, not the bookmarklet. This is deliberate, since the bookmarklet assumes that all the tags applied to the same item, by all users, should be merged and preserved in the database. Another angle on this: Other taggers cannot remove your tags. Only the hub owner and other project managers can remove your tags. This is one of TagTeam's methods for allowing hub owners or project managers to supervise a transition from a folksonomy of user-defined tags to an ontology of project-approved tags.

Deep links

  • Use deep links whenever you can. Tag a journal article from the article page, not from the journal home page. Tag a conference presentation from the presentation page, not the conference page. Tag a blog post from the post page, not the blog home page. And so on.
  • Sometimes the piece you want to tag is online but does not have a deep link or unique URL. For example, some journals publish all the articles for a given issue in a single large file. To tag an article in a journal like that, tag the issue-level file, use the title of the article in the "title" field of the bookmarklet, and use the "description" field to say something like "Scroll to p. 71" or "The article begins on p. 71."

DOI-based URLs

  • But beware: Not all articles with DOIs have working DOI-based URLs. If you have time, please test the DOI-based URL.

Clusters of relevant items

  • When a journal has a special issue on an OA-related topic, try to tag all the relevant articles separately.
  • When a conference has many presentations on OA, each with a unique URL, try to tag all relevant presentations separately.
  • If you don't have time to tag separate items separately, tag the journal table of contents for that issue, or the conference presentation page. Then use the description field to say why these articles or presentations are relevant.

Tagging soon

  • One mission of OATP is to provide real-time alerts about what's new in the world of OA. When you see a relevant item, please try to tag it quickly. Ideally, we'll tag all new developments within hours of their first appearance online.

Pacing yourself

  • Despite the need to tag items soon after they appear, there are some reasons to pace yourself. TagTeam publishes its feeds in RSS, Atom, and JSON, and makes use of third-party tools to convert these feeds into other useful formats, such as Email, Twitter, Google+. Unfortunately, the best RSS-to-Twitter tools (so far), and the best RSS-to-Google+ tools (so far), do not forward more than five feed items in any 30 minute period. If OATP has more items in that period, the people who follow our feeds on Twitter or Google+ will not see all our items. See two of Peter Suber's blog posts about this problem (1 and 2).
  • We currently use Feedburner as our RSS-to-Twitter tool, and HootSuite as our RSS-to-Google+ tool. If you can find better tools that do not abridge the feeds, please let us know!

Tagging items that may soon disappear

  • If you tag an item that may not stay online long, such as a job ad, try to put all the relevant details in the description field for preservation.

Neutral tagging

  • Tagging an item for OATP is not an endorsement. If a new article is relevant to OA, but you dislike its perspective, OATP still wants to include it. OATP provides alerts and organizes knowledge of the field. It leaves critique for articles, blog posts, forum discussions, conference presentations, and other venues.
  • The description field in the bookmarklet should also be a neutral excerpt, paraphrase, or summary. Don't use it to express opinions about the work you are tagging.
    • If you're moved to write a rebuttal to a work you tag for OATP, don't do it in the OATP tag record. Write your rebuttal in a separate blog post (or other online location) and then tag your rebuttal.
  • The oa.negative tag is for objections or obstacles to OA, not for what you regard as low-quality work about OA.

Identifying spam

  • If you see an item utterly unrelated to OA in a project feed, please take a moment to tag it with oa.spam.
  • The OATP primary feed is intelligent enough to omit items tagged with oa.spam. However, even when a piece of spam is already in a project feed, and we're too late to exclude it, your tag will help project managers remove it from the database, exclude it from searches, and expel the spammer.

Taggable items

On-topic v. off-topic items

  • OATP focuses on open access to research. Tag anything directly related to that topic.
  • There are many neighboring topics that overlap with OA to research. Don't tag everything on these topics, but do tag the items in the overlap area, or items that are themselves directly related to OA. For example, copyright is one of these neighboring topics. Don't tag everything on copyright (please!), but do tag items on copyright that are directly related to OA. Here are some examples of neighboring topics:
    • Academic freedom; academic publishing; altmetrics; censorship; copyright, fair use, and the public domain; digital divide; digital publishing; digitization; DRM; ebooks and ebook readers; free and open-source software; freedom of information laws; freedom of speech and censorship; impact metrics; journal prices; legal regulation of the internet, libraries, and publishing; library budgets; libraries in the digital age; licensing terms for online content; media concentration and monopoly; metadata; non-OA scholarly journals or research literature; OA to non-research content such as movies, music, news, and government info; online teaching and learning; open educational resources; open government; P2P file-sharing; peer review; plagiarism and research misconduct; political interference with research; preservation; privacy and anonymity; promotion and tenure; research funding; search and search engines; the semantic web; text and data mining; wikis and Wikipedia.
    • Exceptions: In a small number of cases, OATP tries to tag all items on a certain topic even though some items on that topic are not strongly connected to OA. These exceptions arose for different reasons, usually because OATP already had a good start on a comprehensive list. We'll try to keep these exceptions few in number:
      • Google Books (tag: oa.google.books)
      • Google Book Settlement (tag: oa.google.settlement).
      • We formerly put "Public sector information" (oa.psi) in this category. But today OATP aims for completeness on research data (oa.data) and not on government data (pubic sector information or oa.psi).

New items v. old items

  • Use oa.new for items that are new within the last six months or so. Also use oa.new for new articles and comments about older developments.
  • Use any relevant secondary or subtopic tags when tagging older items. Just remember to omit oa.new. For more on tagging older items, see the next entry on retroactive tagging.

Retroactive tagging

  • OATP launched in April 2009. While it has been very comprehensive, it has missed some items between April 2009 and today, and it has missed nearly all items from before April 2009. Hence, we strongly encourage retroactive tagging, or the tagging of items that are not new enough for the oa.new tag and not already tagged for OATP. The process is simple: Use any relevant subtopic tags, but do not use oa.new.
  • If you're doing a research project on any aspect of OA, please make a point of checking to see whether the OA-related literature you find is already tagged for OATP. (You can do this for a given work simply by trying to tag the work again. If it has already been tagged for OATP, the bookmarklet will be pre-populated when it opens up.) If a work has not already been tagged, or if it's missing relevant tags, please take a moment to add missing tags. This will help you do your research and help others searching for work on the same subtopics.
    • If you're a professor supervising a thesis on OA, or assigning a paper on OA, please consider asking your students to take the same steps.
    • If you're searching the OATP hub in TagTeam, and find that a stored record is missing one or more relevant tags, please take a moment to add them.
  • Some OATP tags are retroactively comprehensive because users have systematically searched for online articles on those subtopics and tagged them with the relevant tags. In the OATP tags page, we annotate these tags as "Retroactively comprehensive since about (date)."
    • If you make a tag retroactively comprehensive, please let us know and we will annotate the tag accordingly.
    • When a tag is retroactively comprehensive, users will have more confidence in using that tag to include or exclude items from searches.

Best sources v. other sources

  • Tag the actual content whenever you can, not just a pointer to the content. If you learn about a relevant article from a blog post, then always tag the article itself. Only tag the blog post as well if it adds significant commentary or deserves to be tagged in its own right.

OA v. non-OA versions

  • Tag relevant items whether or not they are themselves OA.
  • If an item is not itself OA, then include some relevant excerpts in the "description" box, for example from the abstract. And don't forget to add the oa.ta tag (for "toll access").
  • If an article exists in both OA and non-OA versions, at least tag the OA version, in order to help OATP users click through to full-text. If you have reason to think that the link to the non-OA version is more durable, or that the non-OA version is later or superior, then tag that version as well (again, with the oa.ta tag).
  • Whenever you tag a non-OA scholarly article, also flag the article with the OA button.

Mobile v. non-mobile versions

  • If you discover a tag-worthy page with a mobile device, try to view the web or non-mobile version of the page before tagging it.
  • Note that the oa.mobile tag is for OA-related developments for mobile devices, whether or not the pages describing those developments are displayed in mobile format.

Online v. offline items

  • We can only tag online pages, not print works or offline digital files.
  • If you find a relevant work in print, look for an online edition to tag. If need be, tag an online metadata record, announcement, review, or advertisement, anything online to get the work, or some notice of the work, into the OATP feed and database.
  • If you click on a link to an item, and a PDF downloads to your hard drive, rather than displaying in your browser, then look for an online splash page (a.k.a. landing page) for the same work.

Adding original content

  • To insert an original piece of news or comment into the project feed, and make it available in OATP searches, first put it online in a way that gives it a unique URL (standalone web page, blog post, discussion forum contribution, wiki section). Then tag the online version.

Items you may omit

Of course you may omit anything you like! Participation in OATP is entirely voluntary and we wouldn't want it any other way. But if you want to capture all the OA-related developments you see on a certain subtopic, in a certain field, or from a certain country, there are still some items you should feel free to omit.

  • Feel free to omit very short items like tweets, listserv messages, and comments on blog posts.
  • Feel free to omit blog posts written as class assignments, especially if they are weak, poorly written, very brief, or elementary.
  • Omit items containing nothing new.
    • Example: Omit a blog post that merely gives a summary of another post or article, unless the summary is unusually well done. It's better to skip the summary and tag the primary source.
    • Example: Omit a blog post simply alerting readers to an older policy, tool, article, etc., with minimal new comment.
  • Omit introductions to OA for newcomers unless they unusually well done. Then use the oa.intro tag.
  • Omit reprints or repostings of relevant articles published elsewhere. In cases like this, try to tag the primary source instead of the reprint. If the primary source is online, tag it. If it's not OA and you can find an OA edition, then also tag an OA edition. But if you keep finding new OA editions, you needn't and shouldn't tag them all.
  • Omit offers of temporary OA, preview OA, or teaser OA. That is not OA in the sense covered by OATP.
  • Feel free to omit items based on deep misunderstanding, whether innocent or cynical. This is a hard call, because we want to include even articles that are highly critical of OA (with tag oa.negative). But one purpose of the OATP is to raise the level of understanding of OA, and we undermine this purpose when we raise the visibility of distortion and deception. At the same time, however, feel free to tag such items in the spirit of documenting the distortion and deception still in circulation.
  • Feel free to omit announcements from notorious scams or predators, and posts or articles from clueless authors who promote scams and predators because they don't know the difference. There's no problem with erring on the side of tagging or inclusion, if you like, but neither is there a problem in omitting what you regard as the promotion of dishonesty.

Tag syntax

  • OATP tags are composed of these elements: oa + dot + subtopic (word or phrase). For example: oa.something, not oasomething and not just something.
    • The oa. prefix separates our tags from other tags using the same words or phrases. For example, tags like policies and journals could cover developments unrelated to OA, but oa.policies and oa.journals only cover developments related to OA.
    • The oa. prefix means "in connection with OA" or "related to OA", not necessarily "in support of OA". Hence even an article criticizing OA journals should be tagged oa.journals. So should an article focusing on non-OA journals and comparing them with OA journals.
  • Omit spaces. For example: oa.something, not oa something.
    • Some tagging platforms, like Connotea, would treat the latter as two separate tags, oa and something, and we'd lose the benefit of the oa. prefix. Other platforms, like TagTeam, would regard oa something as a single tag, but would ignore it in searches for the oa.something tag.
  • Separate tags with commas. For example: oa.one, oa.two. TagTeam would interpret oa.one oa.two (with a space instead of a comma) as a single tag, and it would not come up in searches for oa.one or oa.two. Nor would it come up in feeds for users who had subscribed to oa.one or oa.two.
  • Use lower case letters only. For example: oa.something, not oa.Something. This is the rule even for proper nouns. For example: oa.france, not oa.France.
    • TagTeam automatically decapitalizes upper-case letters in tags.
  • Use an underscore or acronym for phrases. For example: oa.fair_use, not oa.fair use or oa.fairuse or oa.fair-use. For example: oa.pd, not oa.public_domain. See the tags page to see whether the project recommends an underscore or acronym for a given phrase.
  • Use a hyphen where the original used a hyphen. For example: oa.wiley-blackwell.
  • Use an ampersand (without flanking spaces) where the original used an ampersand. For example: oa.taylor&francis.
  • Use additional dots for additional levels of subtopic subordination. For example: oa.case is for case studies, while oa.case.policies is for case studies on OA policies, and oa.case.policies.universities is for case studies on OA policies at universities.
  • In general, use plural nouns rather than singular nouns. For example: oa.repositories, not oa.repository.
    • But use a singular noun for the genre of the item you are tagging. For example, when tagging an editorial, use oa.editorial. And so on for oa.case, oa.comment, oa.interview, oa.letter, oa.preprint, oa.presentation, oa.report, oa.review. In short, if an article is about preprints, use oa.preprints, but if it is itself a preprint, use oa.preprint.
    • Also use the singular for nouns used in an adjectival sense, for example, oa.crowd.
  • The evolving tag vocabulary or ontology for OATP is in English, and the descriptions added to tag records should be in English.
    • Even while OATP builds its ontology, it welcomes a folksonomy of user-defined tags, including tags not in English.
    • For more detail, see the tagging guidelines on the use of English.
  • Not all existing OATP tags conform to these conventions. But many tagging platforms, including TagTeam, support retroactive tag revision and over time we hope to bring noncompliant tags into compliance.

Tag convergence

  • OATP started as an informal folksonomy but is evolving toward a more formal ontology. One way we are doing this is through the power of TagTeam to convert deprecated tags to approved tags automatically.
    • Note that this process only affects the TagTeam copies of tag records, for example, for publishing output feeds and searching. If you tagged items on another platform (such as CiteULike or Delicious), and asked TagTeam to subscribe to your feeds from that platform, then the TagTeam filters will only modify the TagTeam copies of your tags, not your original tags on the original platform.
  • As the project decides on the best tags to use for certain subtopics, we record them on the page of project tags. Please follow the usage on that page.
  • Not all existing tags conform to the emerging OATP ontology. But over time we hope to bring noncompliant tags into compliance.