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Digital object identifier

Digital object identifier
DOI logo.svg
Acronym DOI
Introduced 2000 (2000)
Managing organisation International DOI Foundation
Website doi.org

A digital object identifier (DOI) is a type of persistent identifier used to uniquely identify objects. The DOI system is particularly used for electronic documents such as journal articles. The DOI system began in 2000 and is managed by the International DOI Foundation.

DOI means "digital identifier of an object" rather than "identifier of a digital object". Thus DOI stands for "digital object-identifier" rather than "digital-object identifier".

Metadata about the object is stored in association with the DOI name. It may include a location, such as a URL, indicating where the object can be found. The DOI for a document remains fixed over the lifetime of the document, whereas its location and other metadata may change. Referring to an online document by its DOI provides more stable linking than simply using its URL, because if its URL changes, the publisher only needs to update the metadata for the DOI to link to the new URL.

A DOI name differs from standard identifier registries such as the ISBN and ISRC. The purpose of an identifier registry is to manage a given collection of identifiers, whereas the primary purpose of the DOI system is to make a collection of identifiers actionable and interoperable.

Organizations that meet the contractual obligations of the DOI system and are willing to pay to become a member of the system can assign DOIs. The DOI system is implemented through a federation of registration agencies coordinated by the International DOI Foundation, which developed and controls the system. The DOI system has been developed and implemented in a range of publishing applications since 2000; by late April 2011 more than 50 million DOI names had been assigned by some 4,000 organizations. By April 2013 this number had grown to 85 million DOI names assigned through 9,500 organizations. The DOI system uses, but is not formally part of, the Handle System.

A DOI name takes the form of a character string divided into two parts, a prefix and a suffix, separated by a slash. The prefix identifies the registrant of the name, and the suffix is chosen by the registrant and identifies the specific object associated with that DOI. Most legal Unicode characters are allowed in these strings, which are interpreted in a case-insensitive manner. The prefix usually takes the form 10.NNNN, where NNNN is a series of at least 4 numbers greater than or equal to 1000, whose limit depends only on the total number of registrants. The prefix may be further subdivided with periods, like 10.NNNN.N.



  • scholarly materials (journal articles, books, ebooks, etc.) through CrossRef, a consortium of around 3,000 publishers;
  • research datasets through DataCite, a consortium of leading research libraries, technical information providers, and scientific data centers;
  • European Union official publications through the EU publications office;
  • Permanent global identifiers for commercial video content through the Entertainment ID Registry, commonly known as EIDR.
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