Understanding CrossRef

What is CrossRef?
CrossRef is — in the simplest terms — a collaborative linking process. And here's how the process works: Each member publisher creates a digital object identifer (DOI), a unique identifier for each journal article. The DOI, which operates as an article's "digital fingerprint," is intimately linked to the article's metadata (in simple terms, its bibliographic citation) and a URL (as Scitation users, you may have noticed DOI "values" for any abstract you viewed; they appear right below the abstract itself). A DOI looks something like:
To resolve a DOI, the DOI link is sent to the Handle System resolver operated on behalf of the International DOI Foundation. That resolver (actually, multiple servers located throughout the world) redirects the DOI to its associated URL (Scitation users will see the resolver URL — http://dx.doi.org — at the beginning of each DOI-based link).

In mid-October 2001, when CrossRef linking capability was realized on Scitation, over 80 publishers were part of the CrossRef consortium. Nearly 5,300 journals were represented, with over 3.5 million deposited records available for linking. Estimates indicate that the CrossRef database of linkable articles will grow by 500,000 to 1,000,000 new records annually.

What Does This Mean for Scitation Users?
The most obvious benefit of CrossRef, and the most noticeable, is a harvest of thousands of new reference links to content served by dozens of physical-science publishers that were not previously available. Publishers and/or publications linked to from Scitation reference sections via DOIs include: How Do I Use CrossRef?
The CrossRef process is transparent to the end-user. Veteran Scitation users will simply see a far greater number of linked citations, and unless you "mouse over" the URL, you will generally not even realize that your mouse-click is being routed through the CrossRef resolver to the article you wish to read. The diagram below encapsulates the CrossRef experience from a user's point of view:

Want to Know More About CrossRef?
CrossRef's web site is a useful starting point for more information about DOI-based linking. For more information on DOIs, visit the International DOI Foundation.