Adapting to Change in Scholarly Publishing: A Full Picture of the History of a Research Work

Crossref Changes its Policy and Will Accept Preprints

In August 2016, Crossref will enable members to assign Crossref DOIs to preprints. This is major news for the scholarly publishing community and an example of how the needs and practices of modern researchers impact change. Previously, Crossref's policy prevented members from registering and assigning DOIs to "duplicative works." However, in the creation and dissemination of scholarly content today, users have a real need to access earlier versions of research papers.

Original content which is intended for formal publication, including content that has been submitted, but has not yet been accepted for publication.
— Definition of "preprint" according to Crossref's Board of Directors

This policy change will require each preprint to link to any future related versions of the work. The preprint DOI will be different from the DOI assigned by the publisher to the accepted manuscript and version of record. Crossref will provide tools to make it easier for members to do that.

Geoffrey Bilder, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Crossref, states "A number of Crossref members are exploring publishing workflows that blur the historically hard distinctions between a draft manuscript, a preprint, a revised proof, an accepted manuscript, the version-of-record, and subsequent corrections and updates, any of which may be used and cited at almost any point in the publishing process."

Ed Pentz, Executive Director at Crossref, explains "Adapting to the needs of our members, while remaining neutral toward their business models, is critical to Crossref's fundamental ability to maintain a clear citation record and let researchers easily identify the best available version of a document or research object."

Business models and real world usage drive change. As scholarly publishing models become more fluid, supporting tools, infrastructure, service providers, and others must also adapt. Crossref anticipates its underlying schema, services, and APIs will be in place by the end of August. 

More information and background on Crossref's history can be enjoyed by clicking here.