Elsevier API Guild

Last week Ian Evans, Elsevier Communications Business Partner wrote an article for Inside Elsevier; an internal news channel for employees, announcing the Elsevier API Guild. I wanted to give some background on how it came about, what is a guild and what the goals of it are.

Back in April I attended the first Elsevier API Summit in New York City. This event brought together teams from all across the business such as Mendeley, Research Solutions, Science Direct, Scopus, Operations, Technology and much more.  “We wanted to get together the people on the ground, who build and run these things, help them meet people they hadn’t met before, and show them that they weren’t alone in addressing these issues.” said Ale de Vries, Product Director, Platform Integration, Research Applications & Platform. Ale and his team were instrumental in getting the conference organised.

The Summit also looked at how Elsevier’s customers are putting APIs to use. Already nearly 50% of Scopus customers are currently using its APIs, using it to show citation counts on their websites, or to add Scopus metadata to their own research information systems. For Elsevier, it makes for a meaningful way of adding value to the platform, as well as providing more visibility for the company: many customers use the Journal API to display Elsevier’s Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) and also the SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) metrics. These are calculated for the 20,000+ journal titles in the Scopus database.

We seen presentations on how company’s are using APIs for text mining, or to analyze and evaluate the different approaches to collaboration, or to link Reaxys to lab equipment and provide meaningful analysis of substances in near-real time.

As the Summit was wrapping up everybody remarked on how useful they found it to share experiences with other colleagues in other departments. Attendees were suggesting that we come up with an API guild. “The concept of a guild has come up a few times, where people self-organize around a common theme,” said Ale. “We’re looking at how to leverage that structure around the Summit attendees, and give the conference a home within that guild.”

Ale defined the guild as:

The API Guild is the professional organization within Elsevier for people building, deploying, managing, and supporting APIs.

There are many facets to owning an API and so Ale would require a small team to help lead this guild which includes myself and a colleague of ours Jim Slaton (Enterprise Architect).

The goals of the guild fall under three broad themes:

  • Business – help Elsevier maximize the business value of APIs
  • Technology – inform technology choices and design to provide this value at optimal cost
  • DX – establish developer experience (DX) as a key aspect of the company’s customer focus

3-Circle Venn Diagram (Plain) - Plain

We are still establishing the guild and getting some of the admin side of things out of the way but once we have this complete we can concentrate on our main responsibilities which are:

  • Be responsible for periodically organizing the API Summit;
  • Ensure that the API Summit will produce concrete actions in support of the Guild’s goals;
  • Between Summits, co-ordinate collaboration amongst Guild members and other stakeholders in order to execute these actions.

Elsevier can’t resource, build and distribute all the great ideas. We should embrace the innovation of others so we can accelerate research and improve research workflows at every step. By opening up our APIs we can build on existing partnerships, build new ones and create a rich ecosystem so all researchers and science can benefit.

Special thanks to Ian Evans for allowing me to share some of his original article. Generated the Venn diagram using Lucidchart.

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About Joyce-Stack - Developer Outreach

Joyce Stack completed a BSc. (Hons) Computer Science from The Open University while working in a startup in Co. Cork, Ireland. She moved to London in 2005 to join one of the City’s leading exponents of agile techniques at that time to work as a Java Developer. She is now working in the Developer Outreach role in Mendeley where her responsibilities are to meet and educate developers about the Mendeley API, attend conferences, meetups and hackathons and basically be the face of the API. She is passionate about providing an excellent developer experience and APIs. She likes biking, swimming and yoga but she hates potatoes despite being Irish.