The Crossref Curriculum

Transferring responsibility for DOIs

We enforce the concept of ownership for the content you register through us. If you ‘own’ a title, you are the member with permissions and responsibilities for creating and maintaining metadata for that title. We control ownership using the DOI prefix. A single DOI prefix may be applied to a single title, a single publisher, or to a number of publishers (via a sponsoring member arrangement). This means that a member with prefix 10.1234 is the only member allowed to create identifiers for a title owned by that prefix. If a title is acquired by a member with prefix 10.5678, we can move the title ownership to prefix 10.5678.

Title ownership may change if:

  • a title is acquired by a different publisher
  • there is a change in publishing partner
  • there is a change in hosting platform

There are two sorts of transfer: title transfer, and organization transfer.

In a title transfer, Member A acquires a single title from member B. We transfer the title (and all relevant reports) over to member A. Member A must then register new content for that journal on their own prefix. The existing (newly acquired) DOIs maintain the ‘old’ prefix but member A can update metadata against these existing DOIs for that journal. Backfile and current DOIs for that journal may, therefore, have different prefixes — and that’s OK!

In an organization transfer, Member C acquires member D. We move the entire prefix (and all relevant reports) over to Member C. Member C can continue to deposit DOIs on member D’s prefix (the original prefix) if they want to, or they can use their own existing prefix. If Member C uses a service provider to deposit metadata on their behalf, we will simply enable their username to work with the prefix.

Learn more about what can often change, but always stays the same?

Title versus DOI ownership

Ownership may be applied to titles and/or to individual records. Typically when a title is acquired by a member, existing content is also acquired. We move ownership of the existing records as well as the title to the acquiring member. This allows the acquiring member to update existing records registered with the previous owner’s prefix. This ownership change does not change the actual prefix of the DOI, it only affects permissions associated with updating the metadata and URLs. If the DOI 10.1234/5678 is acquired by a member and assigned to prefix 10.5678, then the DOI will continue to be 10.1234/5678 but the member responsible for prefix 10.5678 is able to update the metadata record for 10.1234/5678.

We can also assign ownership to individual records within a title. This is often necessary when content ownership or hosting responsibility is assigned to different chunks of content. For example, current issues of Journal A may be published by a member with prefix 10.1234. Issues of Journal A published prior to 2010 are hosted and maintained by a member with prefix 10.5678. Journal A is owned by prefix 10.1234, but the member with prefix 10.5678 retains control of the back issue DOIs owned by prefix 10.5678.

Establishing and transferring ownership

We allow members to freely register records for titles that do not exist in our system. When the first submission is processed, a title record is added to our database, and ownership is assigned to the submitting prefix. If the ownership of a title changes, we need to allow the new owner to assume responsibility for the title. If you use Metadata Manager, you can do this yourself (if you are the disposing publisher). Alternatively, we can do this for you.

Transfer a title yourself

To transfer ownership yourself, if you are the disposing member: you can process title transfers yourself using Metadata Manager. This will transfer the title to the acquiring member, and will also transfer ownership of any existing DOIs for this title - whatever their prefix. Learn more about journal title transfers using Metadata Manager.

Ask us to transfer ownership for you

  1. To transfer the title and not the existing DOIs (for example, if you are only responsible for future issues), or if you want help in running the transfer, contact our support team. We need to receive a title transfer notification to confirm that the current owners are happy with the transfer. There are several different ways to do this:
  • Option A (preferred): If a title transfer has been posted to the Enhanced Transfer Alerting Service (ETAS) let us know and we’ll proceed with the transfer without further confirmation.
  • Option B: If you don’t participate in ETAS, please send us confirmation that the disposing publisher is aware of and agrees with the ownership transfer. The confirmation may be a forwarded email from the disposing publisher to the acquiring publisher acknowledging the transfer. The forwarded email must contain the original sender details.
  • Option C: Alternatively, if you have a letter on the letterhead of the disposing publisher or a press release announcement confirming the transfer that works, too.
  1. Whichever option you use, please be specific about what is being transferred - include ISSNs, ISBNs, and when you need the transfer to occur (if applicable). Do be specific about which prefix the title is being transferred to, as some publishers have more than one prefix.
  2. Once we’ve confirmed the transfer, we’ll update the ownership of your title in our system.

After the transfer is complete

At this point, the acquiring publisher will be able to update existing metadata records and create new ones. If needed, we can supply a list of all the DOIs associated with the publication, but we prefer that the acquiring member also obtains a list of DOI names from the disposing member, to help identify discrepancies between deposited and published DOIs.

Be sure to review the full metadata records provided by the disposing publisher, and remove or update any member-specific pieces of metadata such as text and data mining license and full-text URLs, Similarity Check full-text URLs, or Crossmark data. If the metadata supplied by the previous member is complete and accurate, you’ll only need to update the URL associated with each DOI to point to your content.

It’s also important to remember that we bill for deposits quarterly, so any DOIs that were registered in the previous quarter will be billed to the owner of those DOIs at the quarter’s end. This means that acquiring publishers may be financially responsible for DOIs recently registered by the disposing publisher. If you have any questions about this policy, please let us know before the title transfer.

Learn more about our top tips for a pain-free title transfer.

How to transfer a prefix

DOI prefixes may be moved from one member to another with the consent of the current prefix owner. Prefixes may also be moved from one DOI registration agency to another. Please contact Support to start a prefix transfer.

Prefix permissions

If a prefix moves between members, note that the permissions associated with all DOIs currently owned by that prefix will transfer as well. This includes permissions related to Cited-by matches. You may transfer ownership of individual DOIs to a different prefix as needed.

Dispute resolution

Title ownership may come into dispute when an organization is not legally recognized as the publication owner and is registering content under agreement with the publication owner. In all cases we’ll abide by the publication owner’s directions concerning the disposition of the DOI names associated with their titles. If the publication owner enacts a transfer that negatively impacts another organization, the organization must find remediation with the publication owner.

DOI ownership may also come into dispute when two members claim ownership of a single publication. As described above, the ‘owning’ member is the first depositor and acquires the ability to continue depositing DOI names for that title. The ‘disputing’ member is denied the ability to deposit and initiates the following resolution process:

  1. The disputing member will notify us of the problem - an email to Support is sufficient
  2. We’ll contact the owning member informing them of the problem
  3. If the owning member agrees that their ownership is incorrect or does not respond within 5 business days, Crossref will assign title and record ownership to the disputing member
  4. If the owning member challenges the claim, we’ll request that the two parties resolve the issue and submit joint instructions on how to disposition ownership
  5. If joint resolution is not achieved within 30 days, Crossref will suspend the owning member’s ability to deposit new DOI names for the publication
  6. If joint resolution is not achieved within 60 days, Crossref will modify the appropriate DOI names to a landing page indicating that ownership is in dispute.

At any time during joint resolution deliberation Crossref will accept direction from legal authority specifying how to establish ownership.

Last Updated: 2020 April 8 by Laura J. Wilkinson