DOI - The ID Card of any Scientific Publication: 4. Registration Agencies

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To Serve and Protect

Having infrastructure is important, but it is nothing without somebody, who will operate it. The service provider for the Registrants is the Registration Agencies. They allocate prefixes, register the DOI names and provide the means for the Registrants to declare and maintain metadata and state data. In addition, some of the Registration Agencies offer many other related services like database management and take care of the quality assurance connected with the DOI registration.

Who they are?

Currently, there are 10 Registration Agencies (RA), who are members of the International DOI Foundation (IDF). The possibility to add more is always open, which provides the opportunity for the constant growth of the DOI community. It is mandatory for a RA to be a member of the IDF in order to be able to provide services connected with the DOI system. Each agency signs a generic agreement with IDF, which stipulates all its rights and obligations. There is no specific requirement for the type of organization, that can become a RA. It can be either profit or non-profit. IDF never grants exclusive rights for DOI numbers distribution, for example on a geographical or content type basis, with one exception - DOI  services for limited closed communities. An example is the Publications Office of the EU, which is the only institution dealing with the DOI registration and management of official EU documents.

In order to become a Registration Agency, each entity needs to become first a General Member of the International DOI Foundation. The Board of the IDF reviews the application of a potential RA and has full discretion on the acceptance decision. The IDF then licenses the DOI trademarks to the new RA and integrates it into the IDF system. It is very unlikely, that an organization aiming to provide only DOI name registration and no additional related services will be appointed a RA. The new RA must remain a fully paid member of the IDF as long as it operates in this capacity, adheres to the IDF policies, and respect the rights of the other RAs.

The agreement between the IDF and each RA also considers the different procedures in case the RA chooses not to be a RA anymore - the most important being the transfer of the registered DOI names.


One of the oldest and most important Registration Agencies in the DOI system is Crossref. It was established in December 1999 by a group of 12 organizations in a "cooperative effort among publishers to enable persistent cross-publisher citation linking in online academic journals". (Wikipedia) In January 2000, they incorporated it as a non-profit entity called Publishers International Linking Association, Inc. (PILA). 

Image credit: Crossref

Since 1999 Crossref is steadily growing. The original 12 founding members are currently more than 18 000. They have registered more than 100 000 000 content items. 

For many years SWS Scholarly Society is a voting member of Crossref and all papers published in the conference proceedings and journals of the society receive a DOI name.

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Wednesday, 22 September 2021

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