Digital object identifier: What it is and why it matters?
How to cite this article: Mondal H, Mondal S. Digital object identifier: What it is and why it matters? Indian J Skin Allergy 2023;2:77-80.
Digital object identifiers (DOIs) have become essential tools in academic publishing for linking and identifying digital objects. This review examines the structure and assignment process of DOIs, shedding light on their critical importance in scholarly communication. DOIs consist of a unique alphanumeric string, including a prefix and a suffix, which serves as a persistent link to digital objects. By providing a standardized identifier, DOIs enhance the discoverability, accessibility, and referencing of various digital objects, including journal articles. The DOI also plays a crucial role in article promotion. With a DOI, authors, publishers, and researchers can effectively share and promote their articles, facilitating their discoverability in academic and research communities. However, challenges may arise with DOIs, such as non-functional links. This review provides troubleshooting tips for resolving such issues, including checking for typographical errors, validating the source, and seeking assistance from the DOI registration agency or the publisher.
Digital object identifier
Digital technology is evolving for healthcare research, development, and delivery. Research publication has also been shifted from print to digital avenues. Readers must have noticed that the majority of the journal articles are published with a digital object identifier (DOI). It is a credential for digital objects such as research articles, chapters in a book, and datasets on the internet. DOIs provide a way to locate and access digital content easily. A DOI in an article has a potential for usage in the promotion and dissemination of the article. In this article, we describe briefly about a DOI, its structure, usage, problems with its use, possible solution, and avenues where it can be used for article promotion.
WHAT IS A DOI?
A DOI is a unique and persistent alphanumeric string assigned to a digital object, such as an online article, report, or dataset. The DOI system was created by the International DOI Foundation in 2000. The aim of the organization is to provide a standardized way to identify and access digital objects, regardless of changes in location or metadata.
STRUCTURE OF A DOI
A DOI is composed of two parts: a prefix and a suffix, separated by a forward slash (/). The prefix identifies the organization responsible for managing the DOI, while the suffix identifies the specific digital object. For example, the DOI for a research article might look like this: 10.1234/ abcd.absc_1234_12. This DOI can also be presented with the ULR, as shown in [Figure 1]. After the URL, the code “10.1234” before the slash is composed of the directory code and publisher’s code. This is fixed for a publisher. After the slash, the article identifier code is placed. This identifier is set by the publisher to identify each published article.
HOW ARE DOIS ASSIGNED?
DOIs are assigned by registration agencies, which are responsible for managing DOIs for different types of digital objects. For example, Crossref is a registration agency that assigns DOIs to scholarly articles, while DataCite assigns DOIs to datasets. To obtain a DOI, journals need to register with a registration agency and follow their guidelines for assigning DOIs to digital objects.
WHAT PROVIDERS ACCESS?
The service provider collects personal information such as name, email address, and organization details (e.g., journal publisher) of individuals who register for DOI services. In addition, the metadata of an article is stored in the system while registering DOI for the article.
HOW TO USE DOI
The assigned DOI can be used to retrieve the document from the DOI website. Open the website https://www.doi.org/. Scroll down and copy a DOI from any source and paste it into the query box. Click on the “Submit Query” button to get redirected to the article page [Figure 2]. In this query box, the DOI with the URL or without the URL, both can be used to resolve the result. Alternatively, the DOI with the URL can be directly pasted on the browser’s address bar to open the article page.
COMMON ERROR IN USE OF DOI
Some people mistakenly use the DOI as a URL by copying and pasting the DOI into a web browser’s address bar. While this may sometimes work, it is not the correct way to access a digital object using its DOI.
The DOI from any source may be copied with an added space at the end or in between the DOI. This may be due to the typesetting of the material. Hence, it should be checked that there is no space in or outside the DOI or any erroneous punctuation in the DOI.
WHY IS DOI IMPORTANT?
DOI has several benefits, which make it an essential tool for researchers, publishers, and anyone who creates or uses digital objects. Here are some of the key reasons why DOI matters: 
A DOI provides a unique and persistent identifier for a digital object, ensuring that it can be accessed and cited accurately, even if the location or metadata changes.
DOI can be used to link digital objects across different platforms and repositories, increasing their discoverability and visibility to potential readers or users.
DOIs make it easier to cite and reference digital objects, as they provide a standardized way to identify and access the source material. This is very useful for citing ahead of print publication.
DOIs can be used to track usage metrics, such as downloads, citations, and views, providing valuable insights into the impact and reach of digital objects.
DOIs can be used to identify and preserve digital objects for future use, ensuring that they are not lost or forgotten over time.
DOI IN PRINT JOURNAL
The DOI Quick Response (QR) code is available in all published articles to make it easier for readers to access the digital object by scanning the QR code with their mobile devices. This feature is particularly useful for readers who are accessing the article from a printed copy or who are not able to click on the DOI link directly from the online platform where the article is hosted. By scanning the DOI QR code, readers are directed to the digital object’s web page or landing page, where they can access the full text of the article, view metadata, download the article, or share the article with others. This is a quick and convenient way for readers to access the digital object and ensures that they are accessing the correct version of the article, even if the article has been updated or moved to a different location.
DOI IN BIBLIOGRAPHY
Due to the advent of online open-access publications, the majority of the journals are now having electronic version of the journal. For ease of access, the journal now encourages the use of DOI, PubMed ID (a unique ID created for articles that are indexed in Medline or PubMed Central), or Google Scholar link along with the reference. However, if a DOI is not available for a source, a web link (URL) can be used instead. The aim is to provide an immediate access to the referred article. Figure 3 depicts the reference section of an article published in Indian Journal of Skin Allergy. The first reference includes the DOI. The DOI is hyperlinked with the text [CrossRef], PubMed ID hyperlinked with [PubMed], and Google Scholar link hyperlinked with [Google Scholar]. However, the second reference had no DOI or PubMed ID. Hence, the Google Scholar link has been used for that reference.
In addition to the published article, the DOI is vital in the citation when the article is in press. An article that was finally not published, is available online (as ahead of print) and is cited in a scientific article, in that case DOI plays a vital role. Authors can easily cite the article by mentioning the DOI with the reference.
DOI FOR PROMOTION OF RESEARCH
The DOI can help promote the discoverability and accessibility of a published article. Authors can adopt the following ways to use the DOI to promote an article.
After the publication of an article, share the DOI on social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn to promote the article to a wider audience. This will allow others to easily find and access the article using the DOI.
Authors can include the DOI in promotional materials, such as flyers or posters, to help promote the article. When printed material is used, authors can also make a QR code (e.g., https://www.the-qrcode-generator.com) to print. Any interested person can scan the QR code for quick access to the article. When submitting an abstract for a conference, include the DOI for the article in the abstract, if already available. This will make it easy for conference attendees to access the article. However, if the article is not published and the authors want to disseminate the abstract digitally, they may upload it to any free repository (e.g., https://figshare.com) to get a DOI for the uploaded material.
Authors can share the DOI with colleagues and other researchers in the field through digital media such as e-mails or messenger applications to help promote the article and increase its visibility. Keeping a status in social messenger (e.g., WhatsApp status) may also bring some new viewers to the article.
IF DOI DOES NOT WORK
In some situations, the DOI in a published article may not work even after waiting some days for the update in the servers. If this happens, first of all, the authors need to check if the DOI is correctly written without any unwanted spaces or punctuation. If it is correct, then the authors can contact the publishing organization (e.g., the journal) about the error. If this fails, try searching the DOI in https://www.doi.org. Moreover, the search result would show “DOI not found” and a form for reporting the error [Figure 4]. Authors need to provide the DOI, the link to the article, and the email (to get the update) in the online form for reporting the error. The organization would rectify it and let the reporter know it through email.
HOW TO GET DOI FOR YOUR WORK?
If both of the methods fail and the article is published under a Creative Commons license (anyone can share the article without commercial gain), you may think of uploading a copy of the article to an online free repository such as https://zenodo.org or https://figshare.com to get a DOI from the repository. In our personal experience, we have faced eight such cases where neither the publishers corrected it from their end nor the DOI website took any action. Hence, the free repositories that provide free DOI for uploaded article may be a good option in such cases. The repositories can also be used for uploading supplementary materials of a published article like a questionnaire, or auxiliary tables and images.
DOI is an essential tool for identifying and accessing digital objects, ensuring their persistence, and increasing their discoverability. With advantage and flexibility, this number can be used by researchers in many ways to promote their articles. In addition, we describe how some errors can happen and how to solve those. We hope this article would help researchers to understand and optimize utility of DOI.
FIVE MULTIPLE-CHOICE QUESTIONS
What does DOI stand for in the context of academic publishing?
Digital Object Identifier
Document Object Identifier
Data Object Identifier
Domain Object Identifier.
Which of the following statements best describes a DOI?
It is a standardized file format used for digital preservation
It is a protocol for secure online transactions
It is a unique alphanumeric string assigned to a digital object, such as a journal article or a dataset
It is a type of encryption algorithm used for data security.
What is the primary purpose of a DOI?
To track and monitor usage statistics of digital objects
To provide a persistent link to a digital object, ensuring its accessibility and longevity
To encrypt and protect sensitive information in digital objects
To verify the authenticity and credibility of digital objects.
Which of the following is a benefit of using a DOI for academic publications?
It ensures that the content of the publication is free from errors and plagiarism
It facilitates easy citation and referencing of the publication
It allows authors to track the geographical distribution of readership
It provides a platform for collaborative editing and peer review.
Who ensure assignment of DOIs to academic publications?
The authors of the publication
The International DOI Foundation (IDF)
The academic institutions associated with the authors
The journal or publisher hosting the publication.
Answer to the questions
1) (a), 2) (c), 3) (b), 4) (b), 5) (d).
Declaration of patient consent
Patient’s consent not required as there are no patients in this study.
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
Use of artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted technology for manuscript preparation
The authors confirm that there was no use of artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted technology for assisting in the writing or editing of the manuscript and no images were manipulated using AI.
Financial support and sponsorship
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