The basics

‘One size fits all’ never quite works, does it? This is why there are different DOI Registration Agencies to serve the needs of different interest groups. Crossref and DataCite constitute two of these Registration Agencies, but we overlap more than most in terms of our missions and our communities.

  • Crossref makes research outputs easy to find, cite, link, assess, and reuse. 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.

  • DataCite’s mission is to be the world’s leading provider of persistent identifiers for research. Through our portfolio of services, we provide the means to create, find, cite, connect, and use research. We seek to create value and develop community-driven, innovative, open, integrated, useable, and sustainable services for research.

If you’ve been following the work we’ve been doing, you’ll know that we’ve been making joint announcements for some time. We also collaborate on numerous initiatives that aim to provide foundational infrastructure for research outputs.

We overlap too in who our members are, as the scope of publication of research content expands. Journal publishers want to publish the data that their articles are based on, data repositories want to work with more than data. Crossref and DataCite have expertise and services that support and enhance the specific needs of each community. It’s not just about ‘getting a DOI’.

The Center for Open Science provides a good example of a member who works with both of our organizations to meet the needs of their community:

“We hear from lots of users about how important Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are to their work. DOIs ensure persistent links to content and enhance discoverability of one’s research. At the behest of our users, we began issuing DOIs in 2015, first to public registrations, then to public projects in September 2016, and recently to preprints in July 2017. In all, over 22,000 DOIs were registered for content on the OSF. The DOIs issued on the OSF have historically been registered with DataCite, through the California Digital Library’s EZID. Earlier this year, we learned that EZID’s services are evolving, and COS was faced with the choice of a new registration agency for DOIs. This has given us the opportunity to explore how best to support our users and the diverse research outputs they share via OSF. Ultimately, COS decided to pursue registering DOIs with two separate agencies to provide users with services tailored to their needs: registering DOIs for preprints with Crossref and DOIs for projects and registrations with DataCite.”

If we have so much in common, how do people decide who to join?

  • If you’re registering datasets, join DataCite. DataCite develop and support tools and methods that make data more accessible and more useful.
  • If you’re registering journal articles, conference papers, books, ebooks, preprints, peer reviews etc, you should join Crossref - schema and reference linking infrastructure set up specifically to support and provide services around these content types.
  • If you’re registering both, join both!
  • Not sure? Contact and we’ll help you find the best fit.

Advice for institutional repositories

Institutional repositories can host a range of content, so it can be difficult to decide who to work with when registering your content. As a rough guide:

  • If you host your own datasets, DataCite has a schema specifically set up for you to register them.
  • If you host journal articles, conference papers, ebooks authored by researchers at your institution, but they are actually published by a different publisher, you don’t need a DOI. You should put the DOI of the published version of record on the item you host in your repository.
  • Other content? Contact /

Some shared goals

We’ve made a point of collaborating on areas that both our organizations see as a priority. These are:

A shared goal for persistence

Persistent identifiers and metadata are at the core of what we do. For this to be truly persistent, our organizations must be too. As not-for-profit member organizations, our aim is to be sustainable in the long-term so that we can continue to build upon existing services, and underpin the foundational infrastructure we provide for the research community.

A shared goal for metadata

Richer, more accurate metadata helps content to be discovered, linked, cited, used and reused. Both our organizations are developing better tools to help our members increase the richness of the information they register with us. We make that metadata available in lots of ways so that it can be integrated into tools and services used in research.

A shared goal for data citation

We’re well-positioned to endorse the accurate and comprehensive citing of data. Here’s the ‘why’:

‘Linking scholarly literature and data leads to increased visibility, discovery and retrieval of both literature and data, facilitating reuse, reproducibility and transparency. In a digital world where data can be more easily shared and documented, scholarly literature and its underpinning data are increasingly seen as inseparable.’

Cousijn, H., Feeney, P., Lowenberg, D., Presani, E. and Simons, N., 2019. Bringing Citations and Usage Metrics Together to Make Data Count. Data Science Journal, 18(1), p.9.

Because our organizations hold complementary information on data and publications registered by our members, it makes sense for us to work together to collect and share information on article-data links with each other, and with the wider community. That way, we can achieve the benefits listed above - reuse, reproducibility and transparency - and give researchers credit for publishing their data.

A shared goal for Event Data

We also collaborate on technology. Event Data is a service jointly developed by Crossref and DataCite to capture references, mentions and other events around DOIs that are not provided via DOI metadata. It also includes references between different DOI registration agencies, so data citations are a subset of the events captured by the Event Data Service.

Both the Crossref Event Data and DataCite Event Data services are available via free, open APIs, and we’d encourage anyone interested to get involved in using the data, asking questions and suggesting ways in which you might want to use the service for your particular use-case.


Here are some initiatives that we are both actively involved in, endorse, and recommend:

Conference identifiers
Metadata 2020

If you’re interested in becoming a Crossref or DataCite member, if you’re interested in doing more with links between data and literature, or if you’re interested in using our APIs or Event Data, please get in touch with Crossref support and/or DataCite support. Questions and enquiries are welcome!

Last Updated: 2019 July 5 by Ginny Hendricks