Rules for the Rulemakers
JATS4R’s Self Guidance on Attributes
Maximal flexibility of rules, or ease of reuse — choose one. The tighter the rules, the more consistent documents will be and the easier it will be to reuse them, but only if the rules are reasonable enough to be adopted. (If all the data creators ignore the rules, reuse doesn’t get easier.) JATS4R (JATS for Reuse) is a NISO working group devoted to optimizing the reusability of scholarly content by developing best-practice recommendations for tagging content in JATS XML. The group has devoted particular attention to the flexibility/reuse tradeoff for rules on attribute use and controlled values, and we eventually decided that we needed some rules for ourselves, on how to write rules for attributes in our recommendations. In the process of developing our guidance document for writing rules for attribute values in our recommendations, we learned (or at least articulated) some things along the way.