Digital Object Identifier


January 21, 2022

Digital object identifier (DOI, literally "digital object identifier") is a mechanism for identifying resources, which can be digital resources, such as a film, a report, scientific articles, but also people or any other type of object. The purpose of DOIs is to facilitate the long-term digital management of everything by associating metadata with the identifier of the thing to be managed. The metadata can evolve over time, but the identifier remains invariant. It is an alternative to URIs. Since 2012, the digital object identifier system has been standardized in the form of ISO 26324. DOIs are used in particular in bibliographic databases. Since February 2010, the Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (INIST, of the CNRS) has had “DOI agency” status, being part of the DataCite consortium. The DOI of a document allows in particular a permanent identification of this one. For example, it allows you to find the location of an online document if its URL has changed. DOIs thus make it easier to use bibliographic databases and bibliographic management software, and to produce more reliable and long-lasting citations.


A DOI is a special case of Handle identifier. It is both the mechanism for naming resources and a protocol for resolving identifiers into more concrete addresses. The main motivation for trying to replace URIs was apparently their lack of permanence (a URL changes too easily and it's too concrete, too tied to a location) and the main motivation for trying to replace DNS seems to have been a desire to invent a new protocol, which would not have to support the heritage, in particular administrative (the ICANN system and the current registers) of the DNS. A DOI is therefore unique and permanent. The resolution protocol, competitor of the DNS, is described in RFC 3652. The 3651 describes the naming mechanism and the 3650 the architecture. The few DOI deployments almost never used Handle (which disappeared in 2008) but rather a translator accessible on the web via a URI like which returns automatically to the desired article. For example hdl:cnri.dlib/december95 is a Handle identifier and doi:10.1340/309registries a DOI (according to some conventions, the doi: tag is often omitted: 10.1340/309registries). 10.---- is the prefix. It identifies the registry or Naming Authority. The suffix, i.e. everything after the slash / depends on the registry. DOI therefore has its own social infrastructure (registries and registrars - Registration Agencies). The goal is, for example, to ensure the persistence of identifiers. At the end of a DOI, we find: metadata (usage restrictions or copyright, for example), described by a data model common to all DOIs, the indecs Data Dictionary, a physical address or location (usually a URL), the translator mentioned above redirects to this URL, various information, such as naming authority.

Notes and References

See also


Catherine Lupovici, “The Digital Object Identifier: The DOI system”, BBF, ENSSIB, vol. 43, no. 3 “Law and electronic resources”,‎ 1998, p. 49–54 (read online)

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URI DNS European Commission CrossRef

External links

(en) Official website DOI Marketing brochure DOI Handbook Description of the ISO 26324:2012 standard Information sciences and libraries

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