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.
Reference linking enables researchers to follow a link from the reference list to other full-text documents, helping them to make connections and discover new things.
To link references, you don’t need to be a Crossref member. Reference linking means including Crossref DOIs (displayed as URLs) when you create your citation list. This enables researchers to follow a link from a reference list to other full-text documents, helping them to make connections and discover new things. And because it’s a DOI rather than just a link, it will remain persistent.
Soleimani N, Mohabati Mobarez A, Farhangi B. Cloning, expression and purification flagellar sheath adhesion of Helicobacter pylori in Escherichia coli host as a vaccination target. Clin Exp Vaccine Res. 2016 Jan;5(1):19-25.
Because Crossref is all about rallying the scholarly community to work together, reference linking is an obligation for all Crossref members and for all current journal content (published during this and the two previous years). It is encouraged for other content types (such as books and conference proceedings), and for backfiles (published longer ago).
Watch the introductory reference linking animation in your language:
Persistent links enhance scholarly communications. Reference linking offers important benefits:
Reciprocity: members’ content is linked together and more discoverable because all members link their references.
Crossref acts as a clearinghouse, negotiating reciprocal agreements among all its members so that individual members can avoid the inconvenience of signing bilateral agreements to link to persistent content on other platforms. The result is a scholarly communications infrastructure that enables the exchange of ideas and knowledge.
Discoverability: research travels further when everyone links their references. Because DOIs don’t break if implemented correctly, they will always lead readers to the content they’re looking for, including yours. When the DOIs are displayed, anyone can copy and share them.
This will enable better tracking of where and when people are talking about and sharing scholarly content, including in social media.
Obligations and fees for reference linking
There’s no charge for reference linking but it is an obligation of membership. Reference linking is required for all Crossref members and for all current journal content. We’d encourage you to also add reference linking for backfile journals, and for other content types.
To link references, you do not need to be a member, but reference linking is an obligation for Crossref members. When your organization becomes a Crossref member, look up the DOIs for your references, and add the DOI (as a URL) to reference lists for your content items.
Best practice for reference linking
Start reference linking within 18 months of joining Crossref
Link references for backfile as well as current journal content
Link references in non-journal content types such as books, and conference proceedings.