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CrossRef is an official Digital Object Identifier (DOI) Registration Agency of the International DOI Foundation. It was launched in early 2000 as a cooperative effort among publishers to enable persistent cross-publisher citation linking in online academic journals. CrossRef is the common name used by the Publishers International Linking Association (PILA). 
CrossRef is a not-for-profit association of about 2000 voting member publishers who represent 4300 societies and publishers, including both commercial and not-for-profit organizations. CrossRef includes publishers with varied business models, including those with both open access and subscription policies. CrossRef does not provide a database of fulltext scientific content. Rather, it facilitates the links between distributed content hosted at other sites.
CrossRef now interlinks millions of items from a variety of content types, including journals, books, conference proceedings, working papers, technical reports, and datasets. Linked content includes materials from Scientific, Technical and Medical (STM) and Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) disciplines. The expense is paid for by CrossRef Member publishers. CrossRef provides the technical and business infrastructure to provide for this reference linking using Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs). CrossRef provides deposit and query service for its DOIs.
In addition to the DOI technology linking scholarly references, CrossRef enables a common linking contract among its participants. Members agree to assign DOIs to their current journal content and they also agree to link from the references of their content to other publishers' content. This reciprocity is an important component of what makes the system work.
Non-publisher organizations can participate in CrossRef by becoming affiliates. Such organizations include libraries, online journal hosts, linking service providers, secondary database providers, search engines and providers of article discovery tools.
In addition to assigning DOIs to scholarly content, CrossRef has additional services to fulfill its mission "to enable easy identification and use of trustworthy electronic content by promoting the cooperative development and application of a sustainable infrastructure". These services include:
Services for researchers available from CrossRef:
- DOI resolver that will redirect a DOI to its current location on the web
- Guest Query-Finding a CrossRef DOI for a journal article by author and title, or author and journal title
- Simple Text Query-Finding a CrossRef DOI from free text
- Journal title list
- Report a problem with a DOI
- CrossRef Metadata Search (beta)
- FundRef Search (beta)
In September 2012, CrossRef was awarded the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) Award for Contribution to Scholarly Publishing. According to ALPSP, "With over 4,000 participating publishers, Crossref’s reach is international and it is very well regarded not just amongst publishers, but also the literary community and researchers. CrossRef has built on this unique position to offer other services such as CrossRef Cited by Linking, CrossCheck, CrossMark and the latest project, FundRef. CrossRef’s services provide solutions that are best done collectively by the industry to improve scholarly communications."
The Council of Science Editors (CSE) awarded CrossRef its Award for Meritorious Achievement at the CSE Annual meeting in May 2009. This was only the second time the award had been presented to an organization rather than to an individual.
In September 2008, ALPSP awarded CrossRef its the Innovation in Publishing award for the CrossCheck plagiarism screening service powered by iThenticate.
- "CrossRef history/mission". crossref.org.
- "Publisher Rules". CrossRef. Retrieved 4/5/2014.
- "ALPSP announces Winners of the 2012 Awards". ALPSP Web site. ALPSP. Retrieved 4/5/2014.
- Bradford, Monica. "CSE Award for Meritorious Achievement: Presentation to CrossRef". CSE Web site. Council of Science Editors. Retrieved 4/5/2014.
- "Award for Meritorious Achievement". CSE Web site. Council of Science Editors. Retrieved 4/5/2014.
- Brand, Amy. "CrossCheck Wins 2008 ALPSP Award for Publishing Innovation". CrossRef Blog. CrossRef. Retrieved 4/5/2014.