Data identifiers

A digital object identifier (DOI) refers to an unambiguous and permanent name for a digital scientific document. DOIs not only show where a document is currently accessible, they also store important metadata of the referenced document. These metadata include the locator (URL), title, authors, publisher, year of publication and type of resource. In addition, the DOI system is an ISO standard (26324:2012).

A DOI is usually automatically awarded when publishing a scientific article, especially in magazines and journals indexed on Web of Science or Scopus. Publishers who use DOIs as persistent identifiers include Springer, Elsevier, Wiley, Taylor & Francis, Frontiers, Copernicus Publications and PLOS.

Using a filtered search on the global re3data register allows you to find data repositories that use DOIs as identifiers. General online repositories such as Zenodo or Figshare can also be used for science-related publications, reports, presentations, videos and other research data, and also reserve and award DOIs.

The TU Wien Bibliothek plans to establish an official DOI-awarding body sometime in 2019. This awarding body will enable researchers to register DOIs for their research results (dissertations, research data, digitised images, etc.). If you urgently require a DOI beforehand, you can get one via Zenodo or Figshare.

A DOI is a unique combination of characters and consists of two parts, a prefix and a suffix, separated by a slash. The following characters are allowed in a DOI structure:

  • A-Z
  • a-z
  • 0-9
  • : (colon)
  • . (period)
  •  - (dash)
  • _ (underscore)
  • /(forward slash)
  • + (plus)

After registration with a DOI provider (such as DataCite), an individual prefix is assigned. The configuration of the suffix is carried out by the scientific institution, publisher or the repository. 

Examples of DOIs:

  • A DOI makes your data citable.
  • It guarantees long-term archiving, access and retrievability.
  • The most important metadata is also stored.
  • A DOI makes it easier to link data with related scientific resources (e.g. publications, software).

Yes, other systems include Handle, uniform Resource Name (URN) and Persistent Uniform Resource Locator (PURL). They are often used for university dissertations or in repositories. For citable scientific records, however, DOIs are usually recommended.

  • Handle:

The Handle system identifies digital objects (videos, images, magazines, etc.) so that they can be found regardless of the name of the server they are on. The Handle system was developed by the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), but is used by many other parent systems, such as DOI. Because DOI and Handle are built on the same infrastructure, the technical interoperability between these identifiers is 100%. A handle has the following structure:

  • URN:

An URN is a string of characters which uniquely identifies digital objects by name, whether they are text documents, sound clips, software, images or other objects. The URN identifies the object, but that does not mean that the digital document is available. At the TU Wien, URNs are used in the ReposiTUm. A URN has the following structure: urn:nbn:at:at-ubtuw:1-119958.

  • PURL:

The PURL system managed by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) separates the name of a document from its location. This increases the likelihood that a document will also be found in the long term. When a document changes location, its URL changes, but its PURL stays the same. The PURL does not directly indicate the location of a resource on the Internet, but that of an intermediate resolution service (the OCLC PURL server acts as an intermediary), which links the PURL to the URL and returns that URL to the client (standard HTTP redirect). A PURL has the following structure: