This blog post is from Lettie Conrad and Michelle Urberg, cross-posted from the The Scholarly Kitchen.
As sponsors of this project, we at Crossref are excited to see this work shared out.
The scholarly publishing community talks a LOT about metadata and the need for high-quality, interoperable, and machine-readable descriptors of the content we disseminate. However, as we’ve reflected on previously in the Kitchen, despite well-established information standards (e.g., persistent identifiers), our industry lacks a shared framework to measure the value and impact of the metadata we produce.
When Crossref began over 20 years ago, our members were primarily from the United States and Western Europe, but for several years our membership has been more global and diverse, growing to almost 18,000 organizations around the world, representing 148 countries.
As we continue to grow, finding ways to help organizations participate in Crossref is an important part of our mission and approach. Our goal of creating the Research Nexus—a rich and reusable open network of relationships connecting research organizations, people, things, and actions; a scholarly record that the global community can build on forever, for the benefit of society—can only be achieved by ensuring that participation in Crossref is accessible to all.
In August 2022, the United States Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a memo (PDF) on ensuring free, immediate, and equitable access to federally funded research (a.k.a. the “Nelson memo”). Crossref is particularly interested in and relevant for the areas of this guidance that cover metadata and persistent identifiers—and the infrastructure and services that make them useful.
Funding bodies worldwide are increasingly involved in research infrastructure for dissemination and discovery.
Preprints have become an important tool for rapidly communicating and iterating on research outputs. There is now a range of preprint servers, some subject-specific, some based on a particular geographical area, and others linked to publishers or individual journals in addition to generalist platforms. In 2016 the Crossref schema started to support preprints and since then the number of metadata records has grown to around 16,000 new preprint DOIs per month.
The rebranding of Crossref was top priority when I joined in May in a new role called “Director of Member & Community Outreach”. Since then I’ve been working to understand the array of services, attributes, and audiences we have developed; to answer the questions “What do we do, for whom, and why?”
As Crossref prepares to celebrate turning fifteen at our annual meeting next week, I am thrilled to present our new brand identity with key messages and logo. And along with “thrilled” you may also detect “nervous excitement”.
Over the last few months we have reviewed earlier research and talked with a number of members, affiliates, and academics. Turns out we’re the plain talkers of the industry, the do-ers, the scrappy people who get stuff done, chivvy others along, and in some cases we are—dare I say it—the voice of reason!
While balancing differing views within the scholarly community, we’re all about making connections – literally and figuratively. We help bring together people and metadata in pursuit of an excellent research communications system for all. And, to mirror one of Ed Pentz’s new catchphrases, we are “keeping it real”; with down-to-earth language.
New logos and names for all our products will come soon (in some cases it’ll be a ‘de-brand’ rather than a re-brand!). We’ll gradually phase in the new identity over the next month or two, starting with our annual meeting, and with a complete website relaunch following in 2016. We will contact all of our members and partners in the coming weeks with information about using the new logo, using a content delivery network (CDN) so that sites can reference the correct file.
We have not rebranded because we plan on doing something different but rather to better express the things we already do. Our ‘problem’ was that often people didn’t know Crossref was behind initiatives like CrossCheck, Crossmark and FundRef. Our products had become unlinked from the organisation. And since we’re all about linking things together, that just made no sense.
We needed an icon to give more flexibility across the web that a word mark cannot do alone. The icon is made up of two interlinked angle brackets familiar to those who work with metadata, and can also act as arrows depicting Metadata In and Metadata Out, two themes under which our services can generally be grouped.
Sentence case helps to avoid splitting the word; we do not want to tempt the Cross and the Ref to divide again. So that lowercase R you see in the middle of our name is indeed an official change. (Hopefully we can change the habit!)
The palette gives a nod to the history of Crossref with red & dark grey, but brings in contemporary colors for a fresh palette that is distinctive in our industry (we researched a lot - everyone has circles, and traditional shades abound). Our aesthetic embodies classic Swiss design principles and is minimalist in keeping with our straight-talking personality.
So, in the words of Board Chair, Ian Bannerman, it’s time for Crossref to step forward.
I’m looking forward to revealing more of the story at our annual meeting next week!