Share your thoughts on preprint metadata

Our Preprint Advisory Group was assembled last year to support Crossref to collect and improve the quality of metadata for preprints. The group has developed recommendations in four key areas of the preprint metadata schema. These are:

  • Preprint withdrawal and removal
  • Preprints as an article type (rather than a subtype)
  • Versioning of preprints
  • Preprint relationship metadata

We invite your feedback on these before we start on implementation later this year. We appreciate all comments on this initial set of recommendations by the end of September 2022.

Please add your comments here and join the discussion (if you’re not sure how, please take a look at our guidelines and ‘how to’ instruction here).


I’ve seen many different reasons for withdrawal. In one case the authors claimed the results of the paper are valid, whereas the editors have been convinced of the opposite. I’ve seen other cases in which conflict of interest were violated, or there were other code of conduct violations. The action to withdraw a paper may therefore come from an author (and this may be disputed even by multiple authors), or by an institution associated to the publication (e.g., employer or sponsoring agency), an editor, or the board of directors of a sponsoring society. It is actually difficult to imagine all of the possible social failure modes, because humans are creative. :confused: For this reason, when a withdrawal is initiated, it seems useful for the scholarly record that the organization or person who initiates the withdrawal should be identified. This could of course be encoded into the free-text field for reason, or it might be easier to just use a boolean field to distinguish author-initiated vs non-author-initiated withdrawals. My reasoning is that the scholarly record is a social construct, and disagreements are part of the process. We don’t need to insist on surfacing all of the ugly details behind the controversy, but there is a pretty big difference between an author-initiated withdrawal and a non-author initiated withdrawal.


Dear Crossref,
I totally agree with you in distinguishing the author who initiated withdrawal. but is it possible to make a specific formula to distinguish the researcher who has withdrawn from the rest of the researchers for the same paper?

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Yes, it’s very complex, and preprint servers usually don’t have the resources to investigate to the same extent as a journal publisher would. Some kind of broad taxonomy of reasons for withdrawal is an idea that could work, and the origin of the withdrawal could be a part of it. Publishers usually note whether the authors (and sometimes which authors) agreed with a retraction. Formalizing that could be helpful. Getting it widely adopted would a whole other problem.


I don’t understand why or why you are sending this message. Please explain. I work at a research institute. I didn’t understand the information you wrote about who to add to the article so that I can publish the article. Sincerely, Khusniddin.

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I think the reason for such messages is my recent article. The person who worked with me and wanted to publish an article in the scopus journal did not give a clear answer to my question about which journal you want to publish the article in. That’s why I refused to publish the article

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@zarnigor2006 This is a general discussion on a public forum. You probably received the message because of your notification settings, there is nothing specific to your research. If you have questions about the forum, see here.

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Most of my experience has been with eprint iacr org and arXiv. I was reluctant to define a whole taxonomy of reasons, because I think a text field is best suited to the nuance of describing it. In most of the cases I have seen, it’s because there was a flaw in mathematical reasoning, and that is best described in text. In other fields it might be experimental failure or realization that a model is not descriptive enough. There are probably reasons of plagiarism or outright exaggeration or slander or every other kind of human misbehavior. I was mostly focused on who made the decision to withdraw. I don’t see a need to identify the individual, since for example it may have been a vote among the editors or the board or an ethics committee (IACR has had both in the 25 years of eprint).

One failure mode I had not anticipated is when an author wishes to withdraw their name from a multi-authored paper, or an affiliation wishes to disclaim the work. I assume this is properly classified as a revision to the paper rather than a withdrawal, but it might not be strong enough given that the previous versions still have the author or affiliation name on them. It’s more like a half-withdrawal. Is that within the scope of the recommendations?

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One author removing permission is a really interesting case, and frustratingly common in preprints in my experience when not all authors are consulted about posting a preprint. Formally, the paper should be withdrawn but there might be legitimate reasons to just remove an author (if they were added by mistake) and every case has its own nuances. With regards to how to capture this in the metadata, a text explanation would be helpful, and obviously an update to the author list.

I seem to recall that when we discussed terms for withdrawal and removal in the AG there was one preprint server which used a different term internally for author-initiated removals. These are much more straightforward to handle and perhaps it is useful to distinguish them. My only counter-argument would be that if there’s a legitimate reason to withdraw, it isn’t affected by who initiated the withdrawal request. On the other hand there’s no harm in having more information about the process. Definitely a useful topic to explore, thanks for bringing it up.