The DLL Review Registry Service is one piece of a larger ecosystem that is trying to change the way we think about publication and quality control.
In traditional models, publication and the imprimatur of quality control have been tightly coupled. The publisher is responsible not only for printing and distributing a text, but also for providing an imprimatur that indicates that the text in question has reached a certain level of quality.
A central tenet of this approach is that the imprimatur of a text is tightly coupled to particular presentation of the underlying data. This tight coupling means that if you want to access or use the reviewed text, one must do so exclusively within the confines of the particular presentation offered by the publisher. This requirement severely limits our the ability to reuse the underlying data and de-incentivizes scholarly attention to creating great data.
One of the most exciting possibilities afforded to us by the new digital medium is the ability to use and re-use a text for a plurality of purposes, within in a plurality of presentations. With a single source document we can create books and websites tailored to specific research questions.
Unfortunately, the dominant publication practices have not kept up to speed with these changes. While it is now technology possible to separate the underlying data of a text from its presentational form, the practice of coupling an imprimatur to its publication practically demands that the reviewed text be used in a single presentational form, severely limiting the way a peer-reviewed text can be re-used.
The DLL, in collaboration with the Society for Classical Studies, the Medieval Academy of America, and the Renaissance Society of America, aims to offer a new review services that separates the tasks of review and quality control from the task of publication and distribution.
In our model, each society undertakes the tasks of reviewing the underlying data of a given text, rather than any particular presentation form. The DLL Review Registry Service exists to record these reviews and make them accessible for re-use throughout the web in any publication platform.
Reviews are tied to the reviewed text using a cryptographic hash. A cryptographic hash allows us to identify a text, not by its location, but its digital fingerprint. Every file reviewed by a given society can be reduced to a unique number that cannot be counterfeited. If a single character were added or subtracted from the review text, its fingerprint would change, and any end user would know immediately that the file in question is not identical to the file reviewed and approved by the society.
The DLL Review Registry service is built around these unique fingerprints. Every review indicates the hash of the file that has been approved and points to rubric or criteria that the society used to approve this precise text.
Meanwhile, any publication application, whether print or web, can use the fingerprint of the file to discover any existing reviews. Using the DLL Review Registry API, a client application can compute the hash of any file it has. It can then send that hash to the DLL endpoint, and discover any review of that precise file. To any request, the DLL endpoint will respond with machine actionable set of metadata about the review for this file.
Included in this response is a link to a society’s "badge" or "icon" that can be used in client applications to show that the text the end-user is currently seeing has been reviewed by one of academic societies working in collaboration with the DLL. Additionally, the DLL Review Registry will return a review id. Clients can use this id to create a hyperlink back to the original review. In this way, end user can click on the "badge" and be immediately brought back to the review report served from the DLL domain and verify that the text they are viewing on a client site is the same text that has been reviewed through the DLL.
In sum: Instead of confining the imprimatur to a particular book or particular, website, the DLL Review Registry assigns an imprimatur to the underlying data. The DLL Review Registry Service allows that review to be instantly accessed regardless of where or how that text is being published. In this way, the imprimatur "travels" with the text wherever it goes. We call this the "traveling imprimatur".