What is a DOI?

DOI Logo

  • DOI stands for "Digital Object Identifier." These unique strings look like "10.22002/D1.708", where the '10.xxxx' is a prefix that identifies the group managing the DOI and the characters after the  '/' identify the object. You can see what the DOI refers to by going to the URL: https://doi.org/10.22002/D1.708.  DOIs originated from the publishing world and are in widespread use to identify journal articles. DOIs become persistent when the objects and identifier forwarding information are maintained.  They can be used to identify articles, books, web sites, data sets, software, images, and much more.
  • DOIs allow for digital objects to persist because the identifier is separate from the item location. For example, https://doi.org/10.22002/D1.708 resolves to https://data.caltech.edu/records/708. If the URL for this item changes we can easily redirect the identifier to the new URL and the DOI will not change.
  • A number of nonprofit organizations generate DOIs. Caltech Library is a member of both CrossRef and DataCite, organizations that mint DOIs for publications and research data (broadly defined).

Why use DOIs?

  • Open sharing initiatives are spreading: open data, open science, open access, open source...DOIs provide a great way to promote open sharing, because it allows the content creator to establish a permanent link to the object.
    • Get credit for your research.
    • Promote scientific re-use of your work
  • Get more citations and monitor your results.
    • When the object get cited by others, even if is moved to a new location, the citation reference will always work, as long as the metadata is updated.
  • Meet your funder's data management, tracking and sharing requirements
    • Ensure transparency and accountability
  • Storage is going global
    • Keep track of your work over long-term projects and far-flung teams.
    • Objects can move where you need them to go, from computer to server to cloud.  You can update the target URL multiple times, but the persistent identifier remains the same.

Library DOI Services

Self-Service DOIs

Everyone at Caltech can get a DataCite DOI for digital objects by using the submission form in CaltechDATA. The user provides metadata about the object they are registering and a copy of the digital object. Caltech Library stores the digital object and ensues that the DOI link is updated.

Custom DOIs

Groups at Caltech can generate custom DOIs on their own prefix (For example, LIGO uses prefix 10.7935).  This makes it easier to collectively manage the DOIs in the future and transfer them between organizations.  Groups can obtain a custom DOI prefix by contacting the library [at] caltech.edu (library).


Citing DOIs

Using DOIs enables you to automatically get credit for your work. Citations of items in CaltechDATA will automatically be added to the item page, and we'll send an email alert to the listed address. The library can also collect citations for other DOIs; library [at] caltech.edu (contact us) for more details.

Automatic citation alerts only work if you cite data, software, and other research outputs and include the DOI in your references. You can use the automatic citation formatter to get a citation for almost any DOI.