Suppose I have a paper #1 which was accepted by a Very Respectable Journal, and has been assigned a DOI, but has yet to be actually published (i.e. it's in the queue, and the DOI is not "activated", so it doesn't work for now).

Suppose, at this point, that I write another paper #2 in which I cite paper #1, saying that it is accepted by Ver. Resp. J. In this case, should I or should I not provide the DOI?

The possible downside of this is that someone may try to use the DOI before it goes live and be confused. On the other hand, if someone reads the version of paper #2 later on, the DOI may be more helpful than mere mention of the paper being accepted at Ver. Resp. J.

  • 5
    I would just cite the paper #1 in the paper #2, using the assigned DOI per your publication style, and add a footnote, informing readers that that DOI will be active shortly in the future (or specify approximate time, if known). Oct 19, 2015 at 0:57

2 Answers 2


Assuming the formatting requirements of your journal say to include DOIs, I would do so. One of two scenarios seems most likely:

  1. Paper #1 will appear in press (or online) before Paper #2 is published, at which point it is a trivial edit to change the in press citation to the proper published citation, with the DOI.
  2. For some reason this doesn't happen, and Paper #2 sees the light of day before the DOI in Paper #1 goes live. For a relatively short span of Paper #2's life, readers won't be able to get to the DOI for paper one - but for what is likely the majority of the paper's useful life, the DOI given in the references section will be live, and will point to the published Paper #1.

It's only in that really brief span of time where a reader might try to access the DOI and not be able to. I think optimizing for that time (which may be zero) is counter-productive when you view a paper over its entire lifetime. At best, you have what is essentially an auto-updating reference. At worst, a reader goes "That's odd..." and emails you to see if they can get a preprint.


Whether or not your article (paper #2) provides the DOI for its references (paper #1) isn't at your discretion, regardless of whether or not the referenced paper (paper #1) is published.

It's determined by what the style guide says about citation formatting, in your target journal for paper #2. If the style guide says to include DOIs, then you include DOIs. If it doesn't, then you don't. And whether a referenced paper is published or not only matters if the style guide that covers the referencing paper says it matters.

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    Does not address question. Oct 19, 2015 at 0:28
  • @AnonymousPhysicist I've tried to make the answer clearer
    – 410 gone
    Oct 19, 2015 at 5:43
  • I see what you mean. However, the publishers cannot really demand that we put a DOI with each unpublished paper citation, simply because those DOI are not public. Suppose paper #1 was not mine. Would I have to go and ask the author about the inactive DOI? And if he does not know it, should I go and ask the publisher/editor? What if it does not yet exist? It does not seem reasonable.
    – tomasz
    Oct 19, 2015 at 11:50
  • 1
    @tomasz but you said your paper does have a DOI. If in doubt, consult the style guide. If still in doubt after that, ask your editor.
    – 410 gone
    Oct 19, 2015 at 13:36

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