Our members asked for the flexibility to register content at different points in the publishing lifecycle, so we extended our infrastructure to support members who want to register preprints.

Our custom support for preprints ensures that links to these publications persist over time; that they are connected to the full history of the shared research results; and that the citation record is clear and up-to-date.

Publishing preprints is about more than simply getting a DOI

We have designed a schema together with a working group that included preprint advisors bioRxiv and arXiv, along with some publisher members including PLOS, Elsevier, AIP, IOP, ACM. The schema lays out what metadata is specifically important for preprint content. We also developed a notification feature to alert preprint creators of any matches with journal articles, so they can link to future versions from the preprint.

It’s important to clearly label the content as a preprint using a preprint-specific schema. It’s not advisable to register preprints as data, components, articles, or anything else, because a preprint is not any of those things. Our service allows you to ensure the relationships between preprints and any eventual article are asserted in the metadata, and accurately readable by both humans and machines.

Since November 2016, members have been registering tens of thousands of preprints with us, and thousands of those in turn already have matches with journals articles too (requires a JSON viewer). These relationships in the Crossref metadata, available through our APIs, are relied apon by many parties–from researchers to funders–to discover, track and evaluate the preprint journey.


Our custom support for preprints offers:

  • Persistent identifiers for preprints to ensure successful links to the scholarly record over the course of time.
  • The preprint-specific metadata we ask for reflects researcher workflows from preprint to formal publication.
  • Notification of links between preprints and formal publications that may follow (journal articles, monographs, etc.).
  • Reference linking for preprints, connecting up the scholarly record to associated literature
  • Auto-update of ORCID records to ensure that preprint contributors are acknowledged for their work.
  • Preprints include funding data so people can report research contributions based on funder and grant identification.
  • Discoverability: we make the metadata available for machine and human access, across multiple interfaces (e.g. REST API, OAI-PMH, Search).

Obligations & Limitations

Members depositing preprints need to make sure they:

  1. Register content using the posted content metadata schema
  2. Respond to our match notifications that a manuscript/version of record (AM/VOR) has been registered and link to that within seven days.
  3. Label the manuscript as a preprint clearly, above the scroll on the preprint landing page, and ensure that any link to the AM/VOR is also prominently displayed above the scroll.
  4. Register content using the posted content metadata schema
  5. Respond to our match notifications that a manuscript / version of record (AM/VOR) has been registered and link to that within seven days.

Other considerations:

  • References will be flagged as belonging to a preprint in our Cited-by service
  • The preprint is treated as one item only without components for its constituent parts.
  • Each version should be assigned a new DOI, and associate the versions via an [intra-work relationship] with type isVersionOf.
  • Preprints are not currently able to participate in Crossmark.

Membership & fees

Preprint creators who would like to use our preprint service should apply to join as a member (annual fee starting at $275). Membership of Crossref can be layered, you could join directly, or under a Sponsoring Member who handles your technical and/or financial administration. We have a dedicated fee structure for registering each preprint and volume discounts offered for both backfile and current content. Please see our fees page for more information.

Are you an existing Crossref member who wants to assign preprint DOIs? Let’s talk about getting started or migrating any existing mis-labelled content over to the dedicated preprint deposit schema. If you’re not yet a member but want to register your preprints so they are included within Crossref infrastructure service, please contact our membership team so we can answer any questions and get you set up.

Last Updated: 2017 September 24 by Ginny Hendricks