I'm a researcher. Do I need to join Crossref to get DOIs for my datasets? - Membership Ticket of the Month - April 2024

Hi, I’m Collin with the Crossref Membership team. Inspired by our Technical Support team’s tickets of the month feature, the Membership team has decided to join in the fun and spotlight interesting questions we’ve recently received regarding Crossref membership in the hope that they may also be useful to you.

We start with a question from a researcher who was submitting an article for review. The journal to which they were submitting asked them to provide a DOI for their dataset and the researcher emailed us to ask if they should join Crossref in order to register such a DOI.

The answer is no. As a membership-based trade organization, only group entities like libraries, publishers, societies, and foundations (rather than individuals) may join Crossref. Registering a DOI means agreeing to keep it up-to-date persistently in the long term, and it’s simply not possible to rely on a single individual for that purpose. It would also be ridiculous to ask a person to pay our annual membership fee each year just to maintain a single DOI they registered because a journal told them they needed to do so.

Don’t despair, though! If a journal or grant requires a DOI for your dataset or other research component, there are a number of available repositories run by third-party organizations that may be able to help. This list from PLOS offers a variety of recommendations, broken down by discipline. While Crossref doesn’t endorse any particular repository on this list, we note that some (though not all) of them register a DOI for datasets and other materials deposited to them. Make sure you check that any individual depository meets your needs and the needs of any journal you’re submitting to.

I hope this helps, but please feel free to reply if you have any questions about whether your situation warrants Crossref membership!