Seven Facts That Publishers Should Know About DOI

While some academic publishing metadata standards have yet to reach a “tipping point,” others are already well established. The Digital Object Identifier, or DOI, is one of these. 

  1. What is DOI? Administered by the nonprofit International DOI Foundation, these ISO-standard alphanumeric codes serve as “persistent identifiers” for digital content (including abstracts), related objects, and physical assets or files. 
  2. The benefit of a universal DOI: Nearly all journal articles are assigned a unique DOI, which facilitates more efficient management, tracking/searching, and automation by publishing and content management systems. It links to the object permanently, even if it is moved, modified, or updated. It also can contain associated metadata, although the data model requires only a limited set of “kernel” elements.
  3. I’m a publisher, how do I use DOI? Typically, publishers contact the agency, obtain a DOI to be used for all of the articles they publish, and work with the agency to register and use the DOIs created for individual articles. 
  4.  Who allocates the DOI? Various registration agencies manage the DOI records, maintain the metadata databases, and participate in the overall DOI community. For academic publishing, the primary agency is the nonprofit Crossref
  5. What should I know about Crossref? Crossref handles DOIs for preprints (unpublished drafts posted on preprint servers) as well as DOIs for articles accepted in the publication chain (from the initial manuscript submission through the final published article). These are in fact separate identifiers—to distinguish the state of the piece in the publishing process—but are also linked to one another. 
  6. Where will we see growth in DOI adoption? According to April Ondis, Crossref’s Strategic Marketing Manager, “The real growth in DOI adoption will be in the area of preprints and early content registration.”  Driven in part by the growth of Open Access, researchers are increasingly using preprint content to invite informal feedback before the article is formally accepted for peer review and publication. Ondis noted that the DOI for an accepted article is the primary, and permanent one, while the preprint’s DOI is separate but linked.
  7. Are there problems with DOIs? Authors, institutions, and research funders need to know about pending articles as soon as possible. “However, with a DOI there has to be a content URL. At article acceptance, the publisher often does not know where that content will be, so a DOI could not be registered,” said Crossref’s Director of Technology, Chuck Koscher.  The solution? Crossref will now host an ‘intent to publish’ landing page for these DOIs, based on an ‘intent to publish’ field in the metadata supplied by the publisher.

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