A digital object identifier (DOI) refers to an unambiguous and permanent name for a scientific document. DOI not only shows where a document is currently accessible, it also stores important metadata of the referenced document. These metadata include the locator (URL), title, authors, publisher, year of publication and type of resource.

A DOI should be understood as a digital identifier of an object, not as an identifier of a digital object. Therefore, a DOI can also be minted for a physical object.

In addition, the DOI system is an ISO standard (26324:2012, opens an external URL in a new window).


The easiest way is to upload and publish your data in TU Wien Research Data, opens an external URL in a new window, the institutional data repository of TU Wien. However, general online repositories such as Zenodo, opens an external URL in a new window, which can be used for science-related publications, reports, presentations, videos, and other research data, also reserve and assign DOIs. You can find more repositories that provide DOIs using the filter function in the repository register re3data, opens an external URL in a new window.

A DOI is a unique combination of characters and consists of two parts, a prefix and a suffix, separated by a slash. 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: hdl.handle.net/.., opens an external URL in a new window.

  • 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., opens an external URL in a new window A URN has the following structure: urn:nbn:at:at-ubtuw:3-5866

Since there is no common international solution infrastructure or workflow for URNs, it is impossible to achieve general interoperability with URNs.

  • 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: purl.org/ontology/bibo/oclcnum, opens an external URL in a new window