June 29, 2017 ｜ reference
If you’ve ever looked through scientific papers, trade journals, or data sets you’ve likely encountered a Digital Object Identifier. This post aims to demystify them, at least in terms of what they represent.
The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) system is a standard of assigning identification numbers to publications of data. Within the DOI system, objects are assigned DOI names. A single DOI name is commonly and simply referred to as a DOI®.
It’s also important to note that the “digital” in DOI refers to the identifier itself, and not the object. DOIs are designed to share identifiers over digital networks, not to describe digital-only objects.
DOIs follow a specific format and syntax. On a high level it is a prefix, a separator in the form of a forward slash “/”, and then a suffix.
The prefix of a DOI is how the regulatory and public is identified. In an example of 10.4211, there are two main elements separated by the full stop period “.”:
Note that a registrant code can also have a subdivision separated by a full stop period “.”, something like 10.1000.10. These may or may not have relevance in an actual taxonomy, though they do have implications when it comes to resolution, or retrieving the document.
The format of the suffix, on the other hand is fairly flexible, so long as it is unique. It can be any ISO standard identifier, such as ISBN, ISSN, or numerous others. Alternatively, it can be a custom identifier.
Here are some examples of suffixes:
There you are! I hope this guide was helpful and that my own work trying to demystify these.
This is the website of Mark Robert Henderson. He lives in Cape Ann, works in Cambridge, and plays with distributed apps and tech philosophy online.
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