Online First is a feature offered through journal platform. It allows final revision articles (completed articles in queue for assignment to an upcoming issue) to be hosted online prior to their inclusion in a final print and online journal issue.
Online First provides benefits to all researchers and users of the journal's online content. The feature allows to access the very latest papers in the field. Authors also benefit from greatly reduced lead times between submission and publication of articles. Without Online First, an author's work would only appear online once a finalized issue was sent to print. However, with Online First, manuscripts can appear online while other articles are being completed for an upcoming issue. An author's research will therefore reach its audience more quickly, enabling an article to receive greater usage and exposure, including earlier citation opportunities by related work.
Each Online First manuscript is citeable using the date of the manuscript's first online posting and the DOI. Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) are assigned to all SAGE content for use on digital networks and the metadata associated with that content is registered with the DOI Foundation (www.doi.org). DOIs provide a persistent, permanent way to identify manuscripts published in the online environment, even after they are assigned to a print issue. Information such as volume, issue, and page numbers are not allocated to OnlineFirst articles (as that information is not known until the issue is completed), therefore these manuscripts should be cited as follows:
Smith, JR, Brown, AB. Article title. Journal Title. Prepublished Month, day, year, DOI: 10.1177/0123456789123456
After the article is assigned to a specific issue, new citations can be made using volume and page number information, while still using the DOI:
Smith, JR, Brown, AB. Article title. Journal Title. 2006, 33: 211-217 DOI: 10.1177/0123456789123456
Each article DOI is registered with CrossRef (www.crossref.org), allowing permanent resolution to each article and giving publishers the ability to link their references to articles whenever they are cited.
Once an OnlineFirst article is assigned to its final issue and given its bibliographic data, such as volume, issue, and first page number, the hosting of the article online transitions from the OnlineFirst listing to that of the completed issue. In other words, users will be able to locate the article via the journal's main archive page rather than the OnlineFirst page. Citations using either the DOI or the bibliographic data will both resolve to the final article. The primary, completed article will be the prominent article found when linking into the DOI or article URL.