Using DOIs


27 December 2009


Almost all papers these days have a DOI and it is worth knowing how to use them.

At the top or bottom of the first page of a paper, you will see something like this:


This is a unique and permanent identifier for the paper known as a “Digital Object Identifier”. The part before the forward slash (10.1016 in the example above) identifies the naming authority (in this case Elsevier) and the part after the forward slash (j.csda.2006.07.028) identifies the particular paper. In this case, the paper identifier shows it is in the journal Computational Statistics and Data Analysis and that it first appeared online in 2006. However, there is no systematic pattern to these identifiers, and other journals use other ways of generating identifiers.

One use for these numbers is that it provides a quick way of finding the paper online. The URL where xxx is the DOI will lead to the paper. For example, gives the above paper.

A URL generated in this way is usually much shorter than other equivalent URLs, and is guaranteed not to change, even when the publisher reorganizes their website. For some journals, the URL of an article may change when the article moves from being online but not yet allocated to an issue, to being part of a print issue. But the DOI will remain the same regardless. That is why I usually provide links of this form to my online publications from my website.