What is a DOI?
A DOI is a Digital Object Identifier. It is a unique online reference to a web page with information about an object and how it can be accessed.
Objects need not be digital to have a DOI — they can be physical, like a book. Nor need they be static — objects can change over time, like a dataset. The DOI record is updated if a web address or the object’s content changes significantly, but the DOI link always remains the same.
DOIs give a stable reference to an object even if a web address, its contents, or other references to the location of an object change. This allows them to be used as a reference for an object because the link will always work. Unlike a URL web address a DOI reference never changes once it is created.
Why do I need a DOI for my research outputs?
Because a DOI is permanent it can be used as a stable reference, unlike citing a web address which over time can change and no longer work.
Research funders want DOIs created for outputs from an award.
Citation styles require that DOIs are used when citing digital content.
While academic publishers and data repositories will give a DOI for articles and data sets, there may be a range of outputs for which you cannot get a DOI.
LSE Library can deliver DOIs for objects like:
- Theses (notably doctoral theses but also Master’s theses)
- Working, discussion, and technical papers
- Data sets
- Conference presentations
- Blog posts
Where do I get a DOI?
Contact LSE Research Online. LSE Library can create a DOI if an object meets the criteria of:
- Not being owned by or hosted by a third party, like a publisher, and has an association with the school - for example a report published by an LSE department or research centre.
- Are not given a DOI by someone else, like an academic publisher or data service.
- Have a degree of stability. They are not likely to change rapidly or drastically.
- The object has or will have a record in LSE Research Online or LSE Theses Online.
Information needed to create a DOI is basic, but there is scope for capturing rich contextual information that enhances the discoverability of an object either on the object's record page, through online searches, or in bibliographic software packages. This includes ORCID, different types of contributors (for example, a supervisor, research assistant), time and dates of fieldwork and study, language(s) used, an abstract describing the object, licence information how it can be reused (for example, using a CC BY licence), geo-location data (either textual or longitude-latitude references), and funder information (who funded the research, what is the award number). The more information you give us about an object, the better the DOI record.
In creating a DOI we are committing to maintaining that DOI and information about the object it represents. Once created, a DOI and the information about an object cannot be deleted, even if access to the object is removed (for example, due to a takedown request or new version).
At the moment we are not able to provide support for creating a large number or ongoing allocation of DOIs, but we would like to hear from you if you have such a need.
What is a DOI not?
A DOI is not an authentication tool, so if an object is restricted access or pay walled the DOI will not be able to give you access unless you or LSE Library has access permissions. Nor is a DOI a symbol of quality, not everything with a DOI has been peer reviewed.
How to resolve a DOI link
If you have a DOI but don't know how to get to the object to which it refers, try the following:
- If the DOI is a link that begins http://dx.doi.org or http://doi.org/ you should be able to reach the object by clicking on the link.
- Copying the DOI into a search engine or bibliographic software will often take you to the object.
- If the DOI doesn't have a link, try Resolve a DOI and copy the DOI (for example, 10.21953/5lhdr5sg97myim5lmufi) into the search form. If there are no typos either in the original or in how you entered the DOI, this should take you to the object.