Publishing without Publishers: a Decentralized Approach to Dissemination, Retrieval, and Archiving of Data

« Making available and archiving scientific results is for the most part still considered the task of classical publishing companies, despite the fact that classical forms of publishing centered around printed narrative articles no longer seem well-suited in the digital age. In particular, there exist currently no efficient, reliable, and agreed-upon methods for publishing scientific datasets, which have become increasingly important for science. Here we propose to design scientific data publishing as a Web-based bottom-up process, without top-down control of central authorities such as publishing companies. We present a protocol and a server network to decentrally store and archive data in the form of nanopublications, an RDF-based format to represent scientific data with formal semantics. We show how this approach allows researchers to produce, publish, retrieve, address, verify, and recombine datasets and their individual nanopublications in a reliable and trustworthy manner, and we argue that this architecture could be used for the Semantic Web in general. Our evaluation of the current small network shows that this system is efficient and reliable, and we discuss how it could grow to handle the large amounts of structured data that modern science is producing and consuming. »