Cataloging Style Guide

Language and Translation of Metadata

The Fatcat data model does not include multiple titles or names for the same entity, or even a "native"/"international" representation as seems common in other bibliographic systems. This most notably applies to release titles, but also to container and publisher names, and likely other fields.

For now, editors must use their own judgment over whether to use the title of the release listed in the work itself

This is not to be confused with translations of entire works, which should be treated as an entirely separate release.

External Identifiers

"Fake identifiers", which are actually registered and used in examples and documentation (such as DOI 10.5555/12345678) are allowed (and the entity should be tagged as a fake or example). Non-registered "identifier-like strings", which are semantically valid but not registered, should not exist in fatcat metadata in an identifier column. Invalid identifier strings can be stored in "extra" metadata. Crossref has blogged about this distinction.


All DOIs stored in an entity column should be registered (aka, should be resolvable from Invalid identifiers may be cleaned up or removed by bots.

DOIs should always be stored and transferred in lower-case form. Note that there are almost no other constraints on DOIs (and handles in general): they may have multiple forward slashes, whitespace, of arbitrary length, etc. Crossref has a number of examples of such "valid" but frustratingly formatted strings.

In the fatcat ontology, DOIs and release entities are one-to-one.

It is the intention to automatically (via bot) create a fatcat release for every Crossref-registered DOI from a whitelist of media types ("journal-article" etc, but not all), and it would be desirable to auto-create entities for in-scope publications from all registrars. It is not the intention to auto-create a release for every registered DOI. In particular, "sub-component" DOIs (eg, for an individual figure or table from a publication) aren't currently auto-created, but could be stored in "extra" metadata, or on a case-by-case basis.

Human Names

Representing names of human beings in databases is a fraught subject. For some background reading, see:

Particular difficult issues in the context of a bibliographic database include the non-universal concept of "family" vs. "given" names and their relationship to first and last names; the inclusion of honorary titles and other suffixes and prefixes to a name; the distinction between "preferred", "legal", and "bibliographic" names, or other situations where a person may not wish to be known under the name they are commonly referred to under; language and character set issues; and pseudonyms, anonymous publications, and fake personas (perhaps representing a group, like Bourbaki).

The general guidance for Fatcat is to:

  • not be a "source of truth" for representing a persona or human being; ORCID and Wikidata are better suited to this task
  • represent author personas, not necessarily 1-to-1 with human beings
  • prioritize the concerns of a reader or researcher over that of the author
  • enable basic interoperability with external databases, file formats, schemas, and style guides
  • when possible, respect the wishes of individuals

The data model for the creator entity has three name fields:

  • surname and given_name: needed for "aligning" with external databases, and to export metadata to many standard formats
  • display_name: the "preferred" representation for display of the entire name, in the context of international attribution of authorship of a written work

Names to not necessarily need to expressed in a Latin character set, but also does not necessarily need to be in the native language of the creator or the language of their notable works

Ideally all three fields are populated for all creators.

It seems likely that this schema and guidance will need review. "Extra" metadata can be used to store aliases and alternative representations, which may be useful for disambiguation and automated de-duplication.

Editgroups and Meta-Meta-Data

Editors are expected to group their edits in semantically meaningful editgroups of a reasonable size for review and acceptance. For example, merging two creators and updating related releases could all go in a single editgroup. Large refactors, conversions, and imports, which may touch thousands of entities, should be grouped into reasonable size editgroups; extremely large editgroups may cause technical issues, and make review unmanageable. 50 edits is a decent batch size, and 100 is a good upper limit (and may be enforced by the server).