Update to Preprint DOI Registration

Preprints Editorial Office
24 May 2019

Many authors have told us that they would like more flexibility in how they post preprints, especially when it comes to removing a posted preprint. We have therefore decided to make the immediate registration of a digital object identifier (DOI) optional for submitted and posted preprints.

Until now we have maintained a strict withdrawal policy. The reason for this is that a Crossref registered DOI should be a permanent, universal link for a paper. However, if the paper disappears, it leads to dead links and DOIs for objects that don’t exist. It also causes problems for indexing services, which can end up with the dead links on their own sites. For authors, it means that where we agree to withdraw a preprint, metadata is often found in multiple other locations and it may not be clear that the article has been withdrawn.

To resolve this issue we have decided to make DOI registration optional for authors. We strongly encourage the use DOIs, but want to offer more flexibility where authors who are new to the concept of preprints and unsure of the long-term benefits or risks. Frequently cited reasons for removing preprints include where the paper was rejected from a journal and the authors do not want to update it, where authors want to submit to a journal that doesn’t allow preprint submission, or immediately after a paper is published to avoid multiple versions being available. This move allows us to respect the authors’ wishes more often.

The benefits of having a DOI for your preprint are that it is more widely indexed and therefore more visible. It is also useful if you for work intended to be cited, or included in a bibliography, including in research papers, for grant and job applications, and performance assessments. We will maintain a strict withdrawal policy for any preprint that has been issued a DOI. At present we will also register all preprints with a DOI after three months, following a notification sent to authors.

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