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Application of public blockchain to control the immutability of data in online scientific periodicals

Ivan Tarkhanov (State Academic University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russian Federation) (Federal Research Center “Computer Science and Control” of Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russian Federation)
Denis Fomin-Nilov (State Academic University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russian Federation)
Michael Fomin (State Academic University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russian Federation)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 27 June 2019

Issue publication date: 25 October 2019




The purpose of this paper is to address the problem of content immutability and integrity of online scientific periodicals on the sites of small publishers that can be violated not only by the external hack of the publisher’s site but also by publisher’s and author’s misconduct or by submitting different versions of a periodical to different sites.


The authors defined a list of requirements that verify online scientific publications immutability and integrity. Then, the authors analyzed existing projects and recently emerged information on security technologies and identified challenges met during the development and testing. The use of the public blockchain network Ethereum as a secure storage location for data was explained.


The authors developed the method of checking online scientific periodicals for immutability and presented ecosystem architecture to control immutability and integrity of data. On the example of the online periodical “Istoriya”, it was demonstrated how the immutability of online scientific publication has been verified with the use of the public blockchain over a six-month period. First, operating results were evaluated; challenges hampering the implementation of the suggested ecosystem on Ethereum now were identified; and potential advantages of the suggested approach as compared to similar projects were discovered.

Research limitations/implications

The considered prototype is not a ready-to-use system, but in future providing higher transparency and the development of general distributed ecosystem small publishers will have new opportunities for development given that the issues of scalability, reliability and operating speed on a public blockchain will be addressed. Introduction of the described ecosystem may even provoke some changes on such conservative market as that of publishing of academic papers.


This research is one of the first attempts to expand digital object identifier technology with the use of additional verifications based on the data storage and search in the public blockchain. The suggested idea is the example of “blockchainified science” that was brought to implementation in a real online journal. This method has some advantages compared to Crossmark service.



Tarkhanov, I., Fomin-Nilov, D. and Fomin, M. (2019), "Application of public blockchain to control the immutability of data in online scientific periodicals", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 37 No. 4, pp. 829-844.



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