“January of 2020 marks 20 years since the incorporation of Crossref. This platinum anniversary is an opportune time to look back and take stock of how far the organization has come in the intervening decades, and ponder where its strengths and achievements might lead it in the future. The visionary publishers who formed Crossref, and the staff who have run it from the start, should feel extremely proud of the organization they created – not least for its success as technical infrastructure, but also, arguably, as the scholarly information community’s most extensive, impactful, and stable consortium. That said, it is unlikely that the founding publishers envisioned at the outset the diverse, multi-stakeholder federation that the organization is today. As an early staff member myself, and now a member of the Board, I share a sense of pride in how far Crossref has come, and care deeply about its future….
By dint of its vast coverage of scholarly literature, along with its ability both (1) to associate ever richer metadata with any DOI-identified object and (2) to convene – or rally – the scholarly information community around new initiatives, practices, and standards, Crossref is in a truly unique position to “scaffold” enriched representations of digital scholarship. That is, Crossref is better placed than any other organization to support community-driven efforts to improve discovery and navigation, and our ability to capture and assess contributions to science and scholarship. The pressing questions at this juncture, to my mind, are: will Crossref rise to this opportunity; who gets to decide whether or not it does; and do the governance and sustainability models it started with 20 years ago still serve the organization today, and into the future? …
I would go so far as to say that Crossref’s success was, if indirectly, a significant forcing function for open access as well. The experience of hitting a paywall after clicking on a DOI-powered link was and is a source of significant frustration for readers and libraries, especially when also encountering high fees for access to individual articles. The lucrative “article economy” envisioned in the 2000s never quite reached publishers’ expectations….
With the growth of open access, some of the larger and more progressive commercial publishers have pivoted on strategy, and are banking increasingly on their data, technology, and analytics businesses (see, for example, the 2019 SPARC Landscape Analysis authored by Claudio Aspesi). It behooves the leaders of today’s research institutions to explore fully the implications of commercial control of research data, analytics, and infrastructure, along with the potential for community-owned alternatives. The prospect of an open metadata commons for digital scholarship, and open infrastructure for computing over that data, may be less exciting for entities who intend to grow revenues from their technology and analytics products than it is for other publishers, because of how it might compete with their current and future offerings. It would be foolhardy to ignore this fact as Crossref’s membership, staff, and Board work together to help the organization realize its full promise….”