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Deep Dive: DOIs

Kirsty8 September 2020

In our recent blog post, PIDs 101, we covered a wide range of Persistent Identifiers (PIDs) and looked at how they link together, and what the future holds for them. This week we are drilling down to investigate Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) in more detail.

In the last post we discussed DOIs being a unique registration number for a Digital Object, and the fact that a digital object in this context could be an article or a dataset, but it could equally be any of a number of other item types, such as on this list defined by Crossref.

How do DOIs work?

Each publisher, funder or repository that is registered to provide DOIs is given a unique registration number. This number, along with the ‘10.’ common to all DOIs, forms the first part of a DOI, called the prefix – shown below. Each registered provider is then responsible for choosing their own suffix pattern.

 

 

This is where DOIs get extra clever. Each registered provider can construct the suffixes to their own design, and these can be as simple or as complex as needed. For example, the Wellcome trust uses DOIs for identifying grants as well as publications, and PLOS uses different suffixes to identify which articles come from which journal – for example:

 

 

 

In the three PLOS DOI examples above, the unique registration number is 1371. Each suffix starts by designating the item type: journal, and then follows with an acronym of the individual journals themselves, pbio (PLOS Biology), pone (PLOS one) and pgen (PLOS Genetics). Each journal then uses article numbers in a predetermined sequence for the final part of the DOI. These numbers match the article numbers shown in the article citations. Every registered provider needs a scheme like this that they use to generate their DOIs, as it is essential that each item receives a unique DOI.

For every DOI that is generated, it is the responsibility of the provider to send metadata and a link to the top level webpage for the item to their individual registration agency. In the UK this is most likely to be Crossref or Datacite. This metadata is then made openly available so it can be used to build overarching databases or added into other tools and services like the search interface at doi.org. Crossref and DataCite make the metadata and DOIs registered with them openly available via APIs so that it can be used in databases like Europe PubMed Central.

The different publishers, repositories, universities and funders all have a responsibility to keep the metadata of all of the DOIs they generate up to date. This is important in order for the DOI to be persistent. For example, if your chosen journal changes publisher after your article has been published, it is the responsibility of the publisher to facilitate updating the metadata of every article so that you will still be able to find your article using the DOI.

Why is having a DOI beneficial?

The purpose of a DOI is to accurately identify, link to and discriminate between online works. DOIs are unique to the work they identify and permanently link to it. This means that a DOI must link to the authoritative and authentic web presence for the work hosted on a sustainable platform.

So, having a DOI for your work (whatever it may be) means that it will always be findable: even if the journal where it was originally published no longer exists, there will always be a record of your work no matter how much time has passed. It also helps ensure that your work is cited properly, and that every mention of it is correctly attributed and easy to track. If your work has a DOI, it can be included in other tools like Altmetric or Plum Analytics. These tools track mentions of works in social media, news media, policy documents and other places.

How do I get a DOI for my work?

It is relatively unusual for journals to be unable to provide you with a DOI for your article. If your publisher does not have the facility to give you a DOI, or you wish to get a DOI for another type of material, the simplest way to go about getting one is to create a record in a repository that can provide a DOI for you.

At UCL we have the Research Data Repository (RDR) which can accept a wide range of outputs including data, figures, presentations, software, posters, even images and other media. There is the option in the record creation process to ‘Reserve’ a DOI which will become live once the record is checked and verified by the RDR team.

Outside UCL, there are also independent repositories that are able to give you a DOI. You can choose a subject repository appropriate for your data – there is lots of information available on the Research Data Management team website – or a generic one such as the UK Data Archive, Zenodo, Figshare or Dryad.

Persistent Identifiers 101

Kirsty27 July 2020

You might have heard the phrase ‘Persistent Identifier or even PID in passing, but what does it actually mean 

A persistent identifier (PID) is a long-lasting reference to a resource. That resource might be a publication, dataset or person. Equally it could be a scientific sample, funding body, set of geographical coordinates, unpublished report or piece of software. Whatever it is, the primary purpose of the PID is to provide the information required to reliably identify, verify and locate it.” – OpenAIRE 

These identifiers either connect to a set of metadata describing an item, or link to the item itself.  

In 2018, the Tickell report was released. It presented independent advice about Open Access, which had implications for the world of PIDs. Adam Tickell recommended that Jisc lead a project to select and promote a range of unique identifiers for different purposes, to try and limit the amount of confusion and duplication in this area.  

The JISC project has been in progress for the last year. They are working on what they describe as ‘priority PIDs’ which cover the following categories:  

  • People 
  • Works 
  • Organisations 
  • Grants 
  • Projects 

So what are the PIDs we need to be aware of? 

People 

The primary PID for people is one that you will already be familiar with if you are a regular reader of the blog. Even if you aren’t, you have probably heard of it – it’s ORCID.  

ORCID is an open identifier for individuals that allows you to secure accurate attribution for all of your outputs. It also functions quite nicely as an online bibliography, and can be used to automatically collect and record your papers in RPS. All in all, it’s pretty useful 

If you want to know more about what you can do with ORCID, have a look at our recent blog post ‘Getting the best out of your ORCID. All of the details about linking ORCID to RPS and vice versa, are available on the blog and the Open Access website 

Works 

The next identifier is for works. It’s another that you have probably seen, even if you don’t know a lot about themDOIDOI stands for Digital Object IdentifierIt’s a unique registration number for a Digital Object. This could be an article or a dataset, but it could equally be an image, a book, or even a chapter in a book. DOIs are unique and persistent which means that if your chosen journal changes publisher, you will still be able to find your article because the DOI is independent and will keep up to date.  

DOIs are most often acquired through a Registration Agency called Crossref, but you will also come across DataCiteBoth of these services do the same job, providing and tracking DOIs, but the underlying tools are slightly different.  

Did you know: if you have the DOI of a paper, an easy way to find that paper is to add https://doi.org/ to the front. The URL this creates will take you to the paper, no matter who published it. For example: 10.1080/08870446.2019.1679373 is DOI, and https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2019.1679373 will take you straight to the paper 

Organisations 

The Research Organisation Registry (ROR) is a new PID registry that is being created by key stakeholders, including Crossref and Jisc, to bring more detail and consistency to organisational identifiers. The definition of organisations goes beyond institutions like UCL to include any organisation that is involved in research production or management, so this can include funders, publishers, research institutes and scholarly societies.   

Grants 

Crossref is key in the identification of individual funders and in creating identifiers for research grants. Grant IDs are DOI’s, but connected to grant-specific metadata such as award type, value and investigators. The intent is for funders to register each grant and provide a GrantID, which has the potential to make tracking papers and data linked to individual projects much simpler in the long run. Several hundred grants have been registered already, mostly via Wellcome (With thanks to Rachael Lammey for the clarification 03/08/2020)

Projects 

The Jisc project is supporting Research Activity ID (RAiD), a project based in Australia which creates a unique identifier for a research project. The intent is for this to be the final part of a network of identifiers that will allow people, works, and institutions to be linked to their projects and funders. This will complete the chain and allow accurate attribution and accountability at every stage of the research process.   

How can I get involved? 

The work being undertaken to select and support individual PIDs at each stage of the research process is a good idea, and if it works then it will be a step towards a fully interconnected, open and transparent research process. The next stage of the Jisc project is currently underway, and they are surveying all sectors of the UK research community about awareness, use, and experience of PIDs. If you want to contribute, their survey is open and has just been extended until 21 August!  

PIDs diagram

PIDs environment – Click to enlarge