I’m an editor-in-chief; why can’t I request a title transfer for my journal? - Membership Ticket of the Month - May 2024

Hi, Collin from the Membership Support team here again!

One great feature of DOIs is that they can be transferred from one owner to another without affecting the actual DOI string itself. For example, you might assume that the DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/00277738.2018.1490526 is owned by Taylor & Francis because it begins with one of their prefixes, 10.1080. While it’s true that Taylor & Francis was the original registrant of this DOI, it has since moved under the ownership of another publisher, the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh. The University of Pittsburgh has since updated the resolution URL for this DOI; while it used to direct to the landing page on the Taylor & Francis site, it now (as of May 2024) leads to a landing page on their own website.

This ability to transfer control of DOIs from publisher to publisher and to update the metadata continually while keeping the DOI string itself the same is fundamental to the usability and usefulness of the DOI system. It also happens quite often; we get dozens of requests each week to transfer journals and other materials like books and conference proceedings from an old publisher to a new publisher!

Sometimes, these requests are sent to us by editors-in-chief (EICs) or other members of a journal’s publication team. However, we are often unable to accept these requests because of our guidelines about who is permitted to authorize a title transfer.

In short: we can accept approval for a title transfer only from the transferring publisher or one of their membership’s trusted contacts.

In many cases EICs are not directly involved in the Crossref membership responsible for a particular journal’s DOIs, especially when that membership publishes multiple journals. For example, some of our larger members publish thousands of journals and we simply do not and cannot keep record of each of these journals’ editorial teams in our systems. If an EIC is not a listed contact associated with a particular Crossref account, then they cannot directly request to transfer the journal from one publisher to another.

Instead, we would need the approval of someone connected in our records to the existing Crossref membership: the Primary, Voting, Technical, Metadata Quality, or Billing contact. We ask for this as a measure of security; we cannot otherwise be sure that anyone who emails us claiming to be responsible for a particular title is actually authorized to request a title transfer or make other decisions that affect a Crossref account. For example, if a Crossref member only publishes/registers metadata for one journal and that journal is now to be managed by a different member, we will want to discuss whether the transferring member plans to retain or cancel their membership before proceeding with the title transfer.

So what can you do if you’re an EIC who has ended a (co)publishing relationship with one Crossref member and wishes to move your journal and its existing DOIs to another member?

First, you can always reach out to us at member@crossref.org for help identifying a trusted contact whose approval we would accept for a title transfer. Once this person is identified, a forwarded or direct message from this contact (at the email address that they have registered with us) will be suitable. Title transfer authorizations should mention the journal’s title and ISSN(s) and the receiving publisher’s name and DOI prefix, if known. (See the bottom of this message for an example of a good transfer request.)

Second, we will accept a title transfer permission processed through the ISSN Centre’s Enhanced Transfer Alerting Service (ETAS). This is a formal public declaration of ownership transfer that we accept in place of an email from the transferring publisher. ETAS notices look like this and indicate the names of the transferring and receiving publishers. Note that an update to an ISSN record is not the same as an ETAS notification and cannot be accepted by itself.

Third, we will also accept a public transfer notice on the website of the transferring publisher indicating that the journal and its DOIs are moving from one publisher to another. This transfer notice should be explicit and ideally should be dated. A caveat about this option: the notice must be on the website that the transferring publisher’s DOIs direct readers to. For example, if a journal is moving from Publisher A to Publisher B, the notice must be on Publisher A’s website (we cannot accept an approval on Publisher B’s website). Further, if Publisher A’s existing DOIs resolve to PublisherA.com then we cannot accept a transfer notice on PublisherA.info; the notice must also be on PublisherA.com.

Our requirements about who can authorize a title transfer are intended to keep management of DOIs centralized to Crossref members and their known contacts, lessening the possibility of unauthorized users accessing and altering DOIs and metadata. As always, if you have any questions about title transfers (or anything else) please don’t hesitate to ask on this forum or by emailing us at member@crossref.org.


PS: Here’s an example of a good transfer request:

From: [email address of the Primary (or other) contact on the transferring publisher’s Crossref membership]
To: member@crossref.org
Cc: [EIC of the journal in question]

Subject: Transfer of Journal Name (pISSN: XXXX-XXXX)

We approve the transfer of Journal Name (pISSN XXXX-XXXX, eISSN YYYY-YYYY) and its existing DOIs from Publisher A (10.1234) to Publisher B (10.5555). This transfer can take effect immediately.

We have confirmed that all DOIs on prefix 10.1234 have been properly registered in advance of the transfer.