This blog post is from Lettie Conrad and Michelle Urberg, cross-posted from the The Scholarly Kitchen.
As sponsors of this project, we at Crossref are excited to see this work shared out.
The scholarly publishing community talks a LOT about metadata and the need for high-quality, interoperable, and machine-readable descriptors of the content we disseminate. However, as we’ve reflected on previously in the Kitchen, despite well-established information standards (e.g., persistent identifiers), our industry lacks a shared framework to measure the value and impact of the metadata we produce.
When Crossref began over 20 years ago, our members were primarily from the United States and Western Europe, but for several years our membership has been more global and diverse, growing to almost 18,000 organizations around the world, representing 148 countries.
As we continue to grow, finding ways to help organizations participate in Crossref is an important part of our mission and approach. Our goal of creating the Research Nexus—a rich and reusable open network of relationships connecting research organizations, people, things, and actions; a scholarly record that the global community can build on forever, for the benefit of society—can only be achieved by ensuring that participation in Crossref is accessible to all.
In August 2022, the United States Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a memo (PDF) on ensuring free, immediate, and equitable access to federally funded research (a.k.a. the “Nelson memo”). Crossref is particularly interested in and relevant for the areas of this guidance that cover metadata and persistent identifiers—and the infrastructure and services that make them useful.
Funding bodies worldwide are increasingly involved in research infrastructure for dissemination and discovery.
Preprints have become an important tool for rapidly communicating and iterating on research outputs. There is now a range of preprint servers, some subject-specific, some based on a particular geographical area, and others linked to publishers or individual journals in addition to generalist platforms. In 2016 the Crossref schema started to support preprints and since then the number of metadata records has grown to around 16,000 new preprint DOIs per month.
In recent years, we operate on a budget of around $10 million (USD). About one-third of our revenue comes from annual dues (e.g., membership fees, subscriptions) and two-thirds from services (e.g., Content Registration, Similarly Check document checking). Our fees are set and reviewed by the Membership & Fees committee, which includes our staff, board, and community members. This group also created a set of fee principles which were approved by the board in 2019.
About two-thirds of our expenses are related to people - staff, benefits, and contracted support. One-third of our costs are everything else - hosting costs, licensing fees, events, and costs to do business like banking fees and insurance.
Each year we strive to generate a small operating net and have been able to do so nearly every year.
We also maintain a reserve fund to support long-term sustainability. An Investment Committee was formed in 2021 to update our investing policies, and we will share more later this year.
Below is a look at how our operations have changed over time.
Annual financial reporting
As a not-for-profit, we are tax-exempt, and to maintain that status, we undergo a financial audit each year by an independent accounting firm. Our auditors prepare our Form 990, which the US IRS requires and is made publicly available. It gives an overview of what we do, how we are governed, and detailed financial information.