Pre-prints and DOIs

We and our partners at the U.S National Cancer Institute recently had an article describing our Pathway Interaction Database accepted by Nucleic Acids Research. I’m not posting to puff that up: during the submission process, the NAR editors raised a couple of perfectly reasonable questions about preprints and unique identifiers.

We had previously put a preprint of the article in Nature Precedings. We’ve now updated that article to point to the final peer-reviewed version — and, as you’d hope, the NAR editors were happy with that. There’s a general point in that:

we encourage all authors to update their articles in Nature Precedings to point to new versions subsequently published elsewhere.

The NAR editors also raised a question about unique identifiers. Many journal publishers assign CrossRef-managed Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to published articles. The DOI for our NAR article, for example, is 10.1093/nar/gkn653. In Nature Precedings, we also assign unique identifiers but have chosen those managed by to avoid any complications/confusion caused by two versions of the same article having different or the same DOI. The Handle for our Nature Precedings article, then, is 10101/npre.2008.2243.1.

I think a large fraction of the scientific research community doesn’t know about DOIs and other unique identifiers. They prefer to stick to traditional journal citations and PubMed IDs — either not knowing or not caring that PubMed IDs aren’t, strictly speaking, a stable identifier for the actual research article. DOIs are now a standard of the publishing industry, and authors are increasingly likely to need to understand what they are and how to use them.


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