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. Based on a novel combination of existing concepts and technologies, we present a server network to decentrally store and archive data in the form of nanopublications, an RDF-based format to represent scientific data. We show how this approach allows researchers to publish, retrieve, verify, and recombine datasets of nanopublications in a reliable and trustworthy manner, and we argue that this architecture could be used for the Semantic Web in general. Evaluation of the current small network shows that this system is efficient and reliable.