This blog post is from Lettie Conrad and Michelle Urberg, cross-posted from the The Scholarly Kitchen.
As sponsors of this project, we at Crossref are excited to see this work shared out.
The scholarly publishing community talks a LOT about metadata and the need for high-quality, interoperable, and machine-readable descriptors of the content we disseminate. However, as we’ve reflected on previously in the Kitchen, despite well-established information standards (e.g., persistent identifiers), our industry lacks a shared framework to measure the value and impact of the metadata we produce.
When Crossref began over 20 years ago, our members were primarily from the United States and Western Europe, but for several years our membership has been more global and diverse, growing to almost 18,000 organizations around the world, representing 148 countries.
As we continue to grow, finding ways to help organizations participate in Crossref is an important part of our mission and approach. Our goal of creating the Research Nexus—a rich and reusable open network of relationships connecting research organizations, people, things, and actions; a scholarly record that the global community can build on forever, for the benefit of society—can only be achieved by ensuring that participation in Crossref is accessible to all.
In August 2022, the United States Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a memo (PDF) on ensuring free, immediate, and equitable access to federally funded research (a.k.a. the “Nelson memo”). Crossref is particularly interested in and relevant for the areas of this guidance that cover metadata and persistent identifiers—and the infrastructure and services that make them useful.
Funding bodies worldwide are increasingly involved in research infrastructure for dissemination and discovery.
Preprints have become an important tool for rapidly communicating and iterating on research outputs. There is now a range of preprint servers, some subject-specific, some based on a particular geographical area, and others linked to publishers or individual journals in addition to generalist platforms. In 2016 the Crossref schema started to support preprints and since then the number of metadata records has grown to around 16,000 new preprint DOIs per month.
Content Registration allows members to register and update metadata via machine or human interfaces.
When you join Crossref as a member you are issued a DOI prefix. You combine this with a suffix of your choice to create a DOI, which becomes active once registered with Crossref. Content Registration allows members to register a DOI and deposit or update its associated metadata, via machine or human interfaces.
Benefits of content registration
Academic and professional research travels further if it’s linked to the millions of other published papers. Crossref members register content with us to let the world know it exists, instead of creating thousands of bilateral agreements.
Members send information called metadata to us. Metadata includes fields like dates, titles, authors, affiliations, funders, and online location. Each metadata record includes a persistent identifier called a digital object identifier (DOI) that stays with the work even if it moves websites. Though the DOI doesn’t change, its associated metadata is kept up-to-date by the owner of the record.
Richer metadata makes content useful and easier to find. Through Crossref, members are distributing their metadata downstream, making it available to numerous systems and organizations that together help credit and cite the work, report impact of funding, track outcomes and activity, and more.
Members maintain and update metadata long-term, telling us if content moves to a new website, and they include more information as time goes on. This means that there is a growing chance that content is found, cited, linked to, included in assessment, and used by other researchers.
Participation Reports give a clear picture for anyone to see the metadata Crossref has. See for yourself where the gaps are, and what our members could improve upon. Understand best practice through seeing what others are doing, and learn how to level-up.
This is Crossref infrastructure. You can’t see infrastructure, yet research—and researchers all over the world—rely on it.
What types of records can be registered with Crossref?
We are working to make our input schema more flexible so that almost any type of object can be registered and distributed openly through Crossref. At the moment, members tend to register the following:
Your content registration fees are billed quarterly in arrears. This means you’ll usually receive a bill at the beginning of each quarter for the content you registered in the previous quarter. The only exception is if you’ve only registered a small number of DOIs.