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Tracking metadata provenance

Provenance definition according to the Prov Data Model (PROV-DM)

Provenance is information about entities, activities, and people involved in producing a piece of data or thing, which can be used to form assessments about its quality, reliability or trustworthiness.

Metadata provenance is describing the history of a particular DOI metadata record, i.e. what changes were made when and by whom. This information is stored and provided via an API for all DOI registrations since March 10, 2019. The following provenance information is available via a new /activities REST API endpoint:

prov:wasGeneratedBy

The unique identifier of the activity making changes to a DOI.

prov:generatedAtTime

Timestamp of the activity.

prov:wasDerivedFrom

The DOI for which the changes are being tracked.

prov:wasAttributedTo

The client or provider account responsible for the changes.

action

can be either create, update or delete.

version

version number for the DOI record.

changes

An object with the properties that changed as keys and an array with the actual changes as values

This new provenance API addresses the following use cases:

What changes have been made to a particular DOI?

The activities API exposes all changes made to a particular DOI, e.g. https://api.datacite.org/dois/10.5438/jwvf-8a66/activities. This DOI is for a post on the DataCite blog, and we can see that some changes were made after the initial publication of the blog post, and we can see what was changed when and by whom. One change is for example described in https://api.datacite.org/activities/851d725b-d7c8-41cf-90b3-22466d8b1927:

"data": {
  "id": "a61d0947-e836-4f9c-b19d-cec558438eae",
  "type": "activities",
  "attributes": {
    "prov:wasGeneratedBy": "https://api.datacite.org/activities/a61d0947-e836-4f9c-b19d-cec558438eae",
    "prov:generatedAtTime": "2019-03-28T20:58:22.251Z",
    "prov:wasDerivedFrom": "https://doi.org/10.5438/jwvf-8a66",
    "prov:wasAttributedTo": "https://api.datacite.org/providers/admin",
    "action": "update",
    "version": 5,
    "changes": {
      "types": [{
          "ris": "RPRT",
          "bibtex": "article",
          "citeproc": "article-journal",
          "schemaOrg": "ScholarlyArticle",
          "resourceType": "BlogPosting",
          "resourceTypeGeneral": "Text"
        },
        {
          "ris": "GEN",
          "bibtex": "article",
          "citeproc": "post-weblog",
          "schemaOrg": "BlogPosting",
          "resourceTypeGeneral": "Text"
        }
      ],
      "related_identifiers": [
        [{
          "relationType": "IsPartOf",
          "relatedIdentifier": "10.5438/0000-00ss",
          "resourceTypeGeneral": "Text",
          "relatedIdentifierType": "DOI"
        }],
        [{
            "relationType": "IsPartOf",
            "relatedIdentifier": "10.5438/0000-00ss",
            "resourceTypeGeneral": "Text",
            "relatedIdentifierType": "DOI"
          },
          {
            "relationType": "References",
            "relatedIdentifier": "10.5438/s6d3-k860",
            "relatedIdentifierType": "DOI"
          },
          {
            "relationType": "References",
            "relatedIdentifier": "10.25490/a97f-egyk",
            "relatedIdentifierType": "DOI"
          },
          {
            "relationType": "References",
            "relatedIdentifier": "10.5281/zenodo.2548643",
            "relatedIdentifierType": "DOI"
          },
          {
            "relationType": "References",
            "relatedIdentifier": "10.5438/pre3-2f25",
            "relatedIdentifierType": "DOI"
          },
          {
            "relationType": "References",
            "relatedIdentifier": "10.5281/zenodo.2600275",
            "relatedIdentifierType": "DOI"
          }
        ]
      ]
    }
  }

This activity record describes an update of the related identifier information, sent by the DataCite admin https://api.datacite.org/providers/admin account on 28 March 2019. A total of five references were added to the blog post.

Which DOIs were affected by a particular change?

The activities API also supports queries, allowing the search for particular changes (see API reference for details). For example:

https://api.datacite.org/activities?query=changes.url:https*

This query returns all activities where the URL was changed to an HTTPS URL. We can also query for all updates by a given account, on a given day, etc.

Tracking metadata provenance


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