6 questions to ask before joining Crossref to register DOIs

Hello, I’m Collin from Crossref’s membership team. I work with new Crossref members from around the world who are interested in increasing the persistence and discoverability of their research outputs by registering metadata records and DOIs for the works they publish. These metadata records are accessible via our free open APIs, allowing the linking of references to connect sources and make them easier to find for scholars all across the planet.

If you’re thinking of becoming a member of Crossref so your organization can register DOIs and metadata records for your journal articles, conference proceedings, books, reports, or other research outputs then there are six questions you should ask yourself and your organization first to make sure you get the most out of your membership.

First: what will I be registering DOIs for? As a Crossref member, you will be eligible to register identifiers and metadata for any scholarly materials published by your organization. For example, a university joining Crossref is able to register articles included in any journals published by the university itself, as well as books published by the university press, reports issued by the university, dissertations/theses from university undergraduate or graduate students, and datasets created by university researchers. However, the university should not register DOIs for articles written by scholars affiliated with the university but published in other publishers’ journals. Note that Crossref is one of several global DOI registration agencies (along with DataCite, KISTI, mEDRA, Airiti, JaLC, ISTIC, and CNKI). Different agencies use their own metadata schemas and operate independently of one another. It’s possible to transfer DOI prefixes from one publisher to another so if you already register DOIs with another agency but wish to work with Crossref (or vice versa) please get in touch.

Second: are my materials ready for registration? You’ll be registering a DOI to identify each individual work that your organization publishes (e.g., individual articles) and each one needs to have its own dedicated landing page that meets Crossref’s landing page guidelines. (Here are a few examples of good landing pages.) For journals, have you already connected with your national ISSN Centre to obtain an ISSN for your journal? (Strictly speaking, you don’t need an ISSN but we’d recommend that each journal you plan to register DOIs for has an eISSN and pISSN as applicable to help uniquely identify it.)

Third: how will I be registering my content? There are many ways you can register your metadata records with us; choosing the right one depends on your technical capabilities, the number of records you plan to register, and which hosting platform you work with, if any. If you use the Open Journal Systems (OJS) platform, we recommend using the OJS Crossref plugin which can automate many aspects of the registration process. If you’re inexperienced working with metadata schemas, you may wish to try the web deposit form, a simple text-entry tool (take a look here). If you’re an experienced pro with generating XML, you can also directly upload deposits to our admin tool. You can find a list of all of the available metadata deposit options here.

Fourth: what type of Crossref membership is right for my organization? Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of Crossref membership: independent and sponsored. Independent members may join from anywhere in the world (except a few sanctioned areas), communicate with Crossref themselves, and pay their own annual membership fees and content registration fees in US dollars. Sponsored members have exactly the same obligations and benefits as independent members, but they work with a sponsoring organization to facilitate their membership. Sponsored members enter into arrangements with typically region-specific sponsors who may provide technical, local language, and billing support for their sponsored members. Sponsors pay the annual membership fee and content registration fees on behalf of their members but they are permitted to charge fees for their services. If you’re interested in working with a sponsor, you can find a list of them here.

Fifth: is my organization already a member of Crossref? Many institutions, especially universities, are already Crossref members. Working with an existing institutional membership can help you save money as you won’t have to pay separate membership fees, plus you can avoid duplicating work across different departments or faculties. If you don’t know if your university already has a membership, you can always email member@crossref.org to ask or try searching for your organization in this tool.

Sixth and finally: am I ready to join right now? Joining Crossref usually takes two to four weeks between the moment you submit your application and the moment you can register your first DOI record. Our membership support team will review your application and may ask follow-up questions about your organization. Once all is resolved, our billing team will send a membership order for you to pay (that is, unless you’re eligible to join fee-free via the GEM program). This membership order will be adjusted to cover the remaining months of your first year of membership. If you are not ready to pay for the membership fee then we recommend waiting until you are so that you are only billed for the portion of the first year’s membership fee that you will actually be using. Once you pay, you will be sent your unique DOI prefix and other information about your new account.

Feeling ready to apply for Crossref membership and join the global ecosystem of linked metadata? Head over here to complete an application. If you have any questions, please feel free to reply to this thread!