What is a DOI?
DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier. It is a unique sequence of numbers and letters that is assigned to a digital object as a permanent identifier. Therefore, researchers searching for a particular document can type the DOI into a search engine and will always be taken to the digital version of that document. DOIs can be assigned to any digital object, but they are most commonly used for journal articles.
What does a DOI look like?
A DOI consists of two parts: a prefix and a suffix.
The prefix refers to the organization which issued the DOI and will be the same for all DOIs issued by that organization. In the example above, the prefix “10.17615” refers to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The suffix is a unique series of letters and numbers that refer to the individual document. At UNC, suffixes are randomly generated but other organizations may include meaningful characters in their suffixes.
Note that a DOI is different than an ISSN, which identifies a journal, or a URL, which links to an article.
Why do I Need a DOI?
A DOI will travel with your article forever. Even if the website that hosts your article changes its’ address, the DOI will be updated to reflect the new site. Therefore, you can be sure that when you give someone the DOI for your article, they will always be able to find it. Just as an ORCID is a unique identifier for a scholar, a DOI serves a similar function for an article.
Where can I get a DOI?
Journals will typically assign a DOI to your article upon publication. It will usually be printed on the article PDF in the header or footer.