CODATA RDA Lesson 1: Digital Object Identifiers and Their Value for Researchers

Module 1A. What are Digital Object Identifiers and Why Do They Matter ?

Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are unique names assigned to research outputs (as well as other resources) that are represented in some way on the Internet. DOIs are established an international information standard as ISO 26324:2012 The DOI distinguishes the information resource from others (including other versions of the same intellectual work!). The DOI also provides a persistent web link to a representation of that information on the Internet. DOIs are actionable: when put in URL form ({DOI}, the DOI automatically redirects the user to a landing page that offers information about the resource and often a link to the resource itself.

The DOI is NOT by itself an indicator of open access content or a seal of quality. Yet information resources that are assigned DOIs tend to be of enduring value; are likely to be used and cited by others; and are maintained by a publisher or other information provider who is committed to curating and preserving the resource over time. Examples of research-related information resources assigned DOIs include journal articles, curated datasets, theses, conference papers, and books.

A DOI is considered a persistent identifier because it reliably resolves to a human- and machine-readable landing page for the information resource. The DOI system is designed with the technical, bsiness, and human infrastructure required to ensure that the DOI will always point to relevant content on the Web. Whether or not a user can click through the landing page to fetch the full content depends on various circumstances unrelated to the DOI system: format of the resource, restrictions and conditions governing access; authentication requirements; software compatibility; etc.

The metadata associated with the DOI is often rich enough to provide useful data for a researcher. This lesson and the next look at the array of useful public data associated with DOIs.

Exercise 1A(1). Demonstrate that a DOI redirects to the web landing page for an associated information resource.


$ curl -s -S

Whose websites did the redirects for each DOI take you to?

Exercise 1A(2) Resolve a DOI to confirm its validity, and determine the title of the associated information resource.

$curl -L -S -S >redirect1.txt

$grep "<title>" redirect1.txt

$ curl -L -s -S >redirect2.txt

$grep "<title>" redirect2.txt

Exercise 1A(3). Determine if a 'DOI-style string' is a valid DOI.