Generating Overlay blog posts

Generating Overlay blog posts
Photo by Paul Knight / Unsplash

On Monday the Rogue Scholar science blog archive launched a dedicated API. Today I am reporting on the first Jupyter notebook using that API to generate an overlay blog post.

An overlay journal or overlay ejournal is a type of open access academic journal, almost always an online electronic journal (ejournal), that does not produce its own content, but selects from texts that are already freely available online. From Wikipedia

An overlay blog post applies the idea of an overlay journal to science blog posts, and the Rogue Scholar API – in combination with content that has an open license (CC-BY) – makes that easy.

The Jupyter notebook that I started and made available via GitHub and Zenodo fetches all blog posts using a search term and some other conditions (here written in English and published after 2010). I thought a good search term to try out the concept would be Retraction Watch, after the announcement in September that Crossref has acquired the Retraction Watch database of expressions of concerns and retractions and has made it openly accessible to anyone who wants to use it.

The notebook includes this note:

We use the query retraction watch. We limit results to posts published since 2010 (the year Retraction Watch launched) and en as language. We retrieve the title, authors, publication date, abstract, blog name, doi and url.We sort the results in reverse chronological order (newest first).

The query for that search term returned 17 blog posts included in Rogue Scholar (out of about 9,000 posts), and manual curation narrowed that list further down to 12 posts (visualized with Mermaid):

The notebook then generates a bibtex file of all 12 blog posts (easy as they all have DOIs) and generates a summary written in markdown using the title, author, blog name, publication date, and abstract.


The notebook needs some more fine-tuning, and I plan to publish the first overlay blog post next week. But notebooks are an interesting approach to automate the generating of overlay blog posts, open to everyone as the content of the Rogue Scholar API is freely available for reuse. I particularly like using both automation and manual curation using open source tools, which is a powerful combination


Fenner, M. (2023). Rogue Scholar has an API.

Fenner, M. (2023). front-matter/rogue-scholar-notebooks: Initial public release (0.8) [Computer software]. Zenodo.

Crossref, Hendricks, G., Center for Scientific Integrity, & Lammey, R. (2023). Crossref acquires Retraction Watch data and opens it for the scientific community.

Copyright © 2023 Martin Fenner. Distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.