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          Key Facts on Digital Object Identifier System


          Key concepts and abbreviations

          • DOI = Digital Object Identifier
          • IDF = International DOI Foundation (operating and governing organisation): http://www.yzgdq.cn/
          • RAs = DOI Registration Agencies (= members of IDF offering the system to customers who wish to assign DOI names)

          Status: operational system

          • Foundation launched to develop system in 1998. First applications launched 2000
          • Currently used by well over 5,000 assigners, e.g., publishers, science data centres, movie studios, etc.
          • Approximately 220 million DOI names assigned to date
          • Over 143,000 DOI name prefixes within the DOI System
          • Over 5 billion DOI resolutions per year
          • DOI names are assigned by multiple RAs worldwide
          • Over 28 million shortDOI links to DOI names are in use
          • Initial applications are simple redirection — a persistent identifier
          • More sophisticated functionality available, e.g., multiple resolution, data typing
          • International Standard: ISO 26324, Digital Object Identifier System, 1 May 2012 (available from the ISO Store)


          • Digital Identifier of an Object (not "Identifier of a Digital Object")
          • Object = any entity (thing: physical, digital, or abstract)
            • Resources, parties, licences, etc.
          • Digital Identifier = network actionable identifier ("click on it and do something")
          • Generic framework
          • Initial focus on entities was documents/media e.g., articles, data sets
            • Now also moving into parties and licences
            • Extending to other sectors
          • Extensible by design to any sector: not intended as a publishing-only solution (digital convergence)
          • International coverage

          What it does

          • Provides an actionable, interoperable, persistent link
          • Actionable – through use of identifier syntax and network resolution mechanism (Handle System®)
          • Persistent – through combination of supporting improved handle infrastructure (registry database, proxy support, etc) and social infrastructure (obligations by Registration Agencies)
          • Interoperable – through use of a data model providing semantic interoperability and grouping mechanisms


          • IDF = operating and governing organisation
          • Provides the social infrastructure
            • e.g., obligations for persistence, back-up, in event of failure, etc.
          • Proven model: successfully transitioned the management of persistent identifiers between different registrants and between different RAs
          • US "Not for profit" open membership (with membership fee)
          • Federation of Registration Agencies makes up majority of the IDF
          • Elected Board
          • No full time staff (contracted outsourced functions)

          Business Model

          • IDF receives membership fees from RAs, contracts technical operator
          • RAs are members of IDF and pay a fixed fee per year
          • Costs of operating the system are divided across RAs so that IDF is cost-neutral
          • Assigners are customers of RAs
          • RAs might have their own existing numbering scheme, existing communities etc. – which can be integrated with a DOI Application not replaced by it.
          • RAs are autonomous independent bodies. They offer services to assigners using DOI names
            • RAs' business model with their customers is entirely autonomous
            • RAs only obligation to IDF is a licence/operating agreement
            • RAs may choose to put DOI names "under the hood"
          • Some RAs are commercial; others are themselves member communities

          Technical Infrastructure

          • Handle System: persistent identification in digital networks
          • Vocabulary Mapping Framework: data dictionary methodology for associated metadata
          • Both used elsewhere: aim was not to re-invent the wheel


          • ISO 26324, Information and Documentation — Digital Object Identifier System (2012)
          • Mechanism for, and emphasis on, enabling re-use of other existing identifier schemes, e.g., ISBN; see "DOI System and Standard Identifier Schemes".




          • 1996 proposal from the three major international publishing trade associations to develop infrastructure for digital publishing;
          • Need in the digital supply chain for an equivalent of the analogue bar code: migration from analogue to digital networked content cannot rely on URLs as identifiers (e.g., due to "linkrot": "404 not found")

          Relation to other schemes

          • Strong focus on interoperability and on working with existing and new schemes; technical, syntactic, and semantic interoperability
          • Adopt existing proven components

          Intellectual Property Considerations

          • IDF owns DOI®, a registered trademark for the system
          • IDF does not have any patents (or patent applications) on DOI System
          • IDF collectively licences appropriate technology from suppliers on behalf of members
          • Patent Policy in place
          • All RAs must sign RA agreement re use of IDF System
          • IDF is a participant in related projects
          DOI_disc_logo ®, DOI®, DOI.ORG®, and shortDOI® are trademarks of the International DOI Foundation.