Crossref makes research outputs easy to find, cite, link, and assess.
We’re a not-for-profit membership organization that exists to make scholarly communications better. We rally the community; tag and share metadata; run an open infrastructure; play with technology; and make tools and services—all to help put scholarly content in context.
It’s as simple—and as complicated—as that.
Getting the community working together to make scholarly communications better
Structuring, processing, and sharing metadata to reveal relationships between research outputs
Operating a shared, open infrastructure that is community-governed and evolves with changing needs
Engaging in debate and experimenting with technology to solve our members’ problems
Creating tools and services to enable connections and give context
Scholarly communications is changing, and putting research outputs into context is becoming more complicated. Our membership is part of a community that values and exchanges metadata between themselves as well as with a broader community.
Some of our existing members no longer classify themselves as “publishers”, and some of our newer members have never classified themselves as “publishers”. Governments, funders, institutions, and researchers—parties who once had tangential involvement in scholarly publishing—are taking a more direct role in shaping how research is registered, certified and disseminated. Additionally, low income (but emerging) countries increasingly see it as a strategic imperative that they own and manage a research communication system that reflects their regional research priorities.
Researchers are increasingly insisting that new kinds of research outputs, like data, software, preprints, and peer reviews form a critical part of the scholarly record. New players (e.g. sharing networks, alt-metrics services, and Current Research Information Systems) are becoming critical elements of the research landscape. New technologies like ML and AI promise to change the way in which research is produced, assessed, and consumed.
For Crossref and its membership to remain relevant in this new environment, we need to adapt, do and encourage new things. But we have limited resources. So in order to adapt and do new things, we also need to also make sure that we are currently doing the right things efficiently. Hence, our strategic agenda is a combination of consolidation and expansion:
The characteristics of our members and users continue to diversify—to scholar publishers, library publishers, and other emerging organizations. Furthermore, the use of our APIs has grown significantly in recent years as Crossref becomes better known as a source of metadata. Users are therefore asking for a more predictable service-based option in addition to the public options. We have and will continue to develop service-level guarantees in order to meet this growing demand, which will strengthen Crossref’s position as a way for the wider community to centrally access information from 10,000+ publishers.
A focus on user experience will allow us to make it easier for all of them to participate in Crossref as fully as possible, irrespective of their depth of need or their level of technical skill.
We are also focusing our efforts on ensuring there is broad support for systems in accessing Crossref metadata so that reuse reaches its fullest potential across the entire research ecosystem. This necessary evolution of Crossref services will ensure that we can support the changing needs and priorities of all involved in research.
We do not want to add resources infinitum so we must make sure that we are performing our existing functions efficiently. To this end, we are streamlining processes to improve member experience, modernize infrastructure, and upgrade tools and data provision capabilities. These activities will achieve efficiencies for members, metadata users, as well as staff.
Metadata provided by our members is the foundation of all our services. Crossref membership is a collective benefit. The more metadata a member is able to put in—and the greater adherence to best practice—the easier it is for other members and community users downstream to find, cite, link, assess, and reuse their content. Furthermore, the more discoverable and more trusted is the content. Better quality metadata improves the system for each member and all of Crossref’s other members and stakeholders.
Existing Crossref members may have joined Crossref when only providing minimal bibliographic metadata was required for reference linking. But, increasingly, Crossref is becoming a hub which the community relies on to get both complete bibliographic metadata and non-bibliographic metadata (e.g. funding information, license information, clinical trial information, etc.) We need to help our existing members meet the new metadata expectations. Our objectives are to better communicate what metadata best practice is, equip members with all the data and tools they need to meet best practice and achieve closer cooperation from service providers.
We will focus on expanding the links between scholarly objects to all their associated research outputs. We will also expand support for new content types to ensure that they integrated into the scholarly record and can be discovered. At the other extreme, some new Crossref members have little technical infrastructure for creating and maintaining quality metadata. We need to help provide them with tools to ensure that we don’t dilute the Crossref system with substandard and/or incomplete metadata.
But metadata quality is a strategic focus across the entire Crossref membership. While we improve this across our entire membership by implementing stronger validation measures internally in our deposit processes, we will also employ mechanisms that engage the broader community to fill in gaps and correct metadata with a clear provenance trail of every metadata assertion in the Crossref system.
Members are at the heart of the Crossref community. Scholarly publishers are geographically expanding at a rapid pace and we currently have members in 120 countries. With that comes the need to increasingly and proactively work with emerging regions as they start to share research outputs globally. To this end, we will expand our geographic support through concerted efforts in international outreach, working with government education/science ministries and local Sponsors and Ambassadors, and developing as much localized content as we can.
Furthermore, funders and research institutions are increasingly involved in the scholarly publishing process. As the research landscape changes, we need to respond and ensure our relevance by evolving in a way that better reflects these shifts. Our overarching objective is to expand our value proposition to convince these new constituents of Crossref’s relevance, getting them into our system and using our infrastructure.
Crossref faces a tension. We want to—where possible—take advantage of existing organizations, services, tools and technologies. We aim to do more, more efficiently, by focusing on expanding existing infrastructure and organizations rather than creating things from scratch. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel.
So that our alliances with others have the greatest impact, we align our strategic plans for scholarly infrastructure with others, and ensure that the community has the most up-to-date and accurate information.
This is part and parcel of our role as an community-wide infrastructure provider as we achieve our mission by supporting the entire research ecosystem. But at the same time, we take care not to introduce risky dependencies for the entire community. Hence, the bulk of our collaborations are with open initiatives.
Some are led and driven by Crossref. Others are not.