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Data Services: Application Programming Interfaces for Research


An API, short for application programming interface, is a tool used to share content and data between software applications.  APIs are used in a variety of contexts, but some examples include embedding content from one website into another, dynamically posting content from one application to display in another application, or extracting data from a database in a more programmatic way than a regular user interface might allow.

Many scholarly publishers, databases, and products offer APIs to allow users with programming skills to more powerfully extract data to serve a variety of research purposes.  With an API, users might create programmatic searches of a citation database, extract statistical data, or dynamically query and post blog content.

To get help finding and using an API for research projects, contact the Data Services Librarian

Example APIs

Name Access Connecting Format
arXiv API Gives programmatic access to all of the arXiv data, search and linking facilities API calls are made using any web-enabled client (e.g. a web browser) to make an HTTP GET or POST request to an appropriate url. API users can use the programming language of their choice. Atom
BioMed Central API Retrieves: 1) BMC Latest Articles; 2) BMC Editors picks; 3) Data on article subscription and access; 4) Bibliographic search data RESTful interface, queries are made as HTTP GET requests JSON
Caselaw Access Project Retrieves: text from more than 6 million law cases published in books beginning 1658CE in text, XML, or HTML formats. HTTPS GET JSON. Fulltext in text, XML, or HTML
DVN (Dataverse Network) API for Data Sharing Allows programmatic access to data and metadata in the Dataverse Network and data deposited in other Dataverse Network repositories. Two modules exist: Metadata/Search and Data Access. HTTPS. A Dataverse community-written software program can also be used to access the API via an RCurl package. XML; Byte Stream for Data Access requests
Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) API Allows programmatic access to metadata in DPLA collections, including partner data from Harvard, New York Public Library, ARTstor, and others. RESTful interface Structured JSON-LD objects
HathiTrust Datasets Allows users to download a public domain corpus of non-Google digitized volumes or Google volumes (with agreement). Contact form or rsync METS XML and txt page files
IEEE Xplore XML Search API Allows IEEE customers and 3rd parties such as federated search vendors to query the IEEE Xplore content repository and retrieve results for manipulation and presentation on local web interfaces HTTP requests using structured URL queries XML
JSTOR Data for Research Not a true API, but allows computational analysis and selection of JSTOR's scholarly journal and primary resource collections Includes tools for faceted searching and filtering, text analysis, topic modeling, data extraction, and visualization. Web interface CSV, varies depending on tool used
Nature Blogs API Blog tracking and indexing service; tracks Nature blogs and other third-party science blogs RESTful interface, queries are made as HTTP GET requests Default is JSON, some queries return Atom/RSS, CSV
Nature OpenSearch API Bibliographic search service for Nature content REST API with two interfaces: 1) OpenSearch standard interface using keyword searches; 2) SRU search interface using CQL structed queries RSS, JSON, ATOM, SRU XML, TURTLE, depending on interface used
NLM APIs NLM offers 21 different APIs for accessing various NLM databases. Varies depending on API. Varies depending on API.
ORCID API Queries and searches the ORCID researcher identifier system and obtain researcher profile data RESTful interface HTML, XML, or JSON
PLoS Article-Level Metrics API Retrieves article-level metrics (including usage statistics, citation counts, and social networking activity) for articles published in PLOS journals and articles added to PLOS Hubs: Biodiversity RESTful interface, queries are made as HTTP GET requests XML, JSON, CS
PLoS Search API Allows PLoS content to be queried using the 23 terms in the PLoS search, for integration into web, desktop, or mobile applications RESTful interface, queries are made as HTTP GET requests XML
PubMed E-Utilities API Set of 8 server-side programs for searching 38 NCBI Entrez databases of biomedical literature and data To access data, a piece of software posts an URL using a fixed sytax to NCBI's E-Utilities server, then retrieves and processes data. Users can use any programming langauge that can send the URL and interpret the XML response (e.g. Perl, Python, Java, C++, etc.) XML
ScienceDirect Supports multiple use cases, including text mining of full-text content, search widgets, displaying journal or book level data, federated searching, and indexing. Various depending on use case. Varies depending on use case.
Scopus Supports multiple use cases, including displaying publications on a website, showing cited-by counts on a website, federated searching, populating repositories with metadata, populating VIVO profiles, and others. Various depending on use case. Varies depending on use case.
Springer Images API Provides images and related text for over 300,000 free images available on Springer Images. RESTful interface, using structured URL requests XML, JSON, JSONP
Springer Metadata API Provides metadata for over 5 million online documents (e.g. journal articles, book chapters, protocols). RESTful interface, using structured URL requests XML in PRISM Aggregator message format, JSON, JSONP
Springer Open Access API Provides metadata, full-text content, and images for over 80,000 open access articles from BioMed Central and SpringerOpen journals. RESTful interface, using structured URL requests XML in Springer's A++ format, JSON
STAT!Ref OpenSearch API Bibliographic search service for displaying syndicated results on a website. Uses OpenSearch specifications. RSS, ATOM, HTML
Web of Science Web Services Bibliographic search service. Allows automatic, real-time querying of records. Primarly for populating an institutional repository. Uses SOAP protocol to access XML
World Bank Indicators Provides access to nine World Bank statistical databases: RESTful interface XML, JSON
World Bank Projects Provides access to data on all closed, active, and planned World Bank projects RESTful interface XML, JSON, Atom
World Bank Finances Provides access to the data on the World Bank’s loans, credits, financial statements and other data related to the financial operations RESTful interface XML, JSON and RDF
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