What is a DOI?

A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a persistent link (digital identifier) to an object - typically articles, books, or other pieces of digital information. DOIs are commonly used to retrieve scientific works and often included in citations.

The DOI system is an ISO standard controlled by the International DOI Foundation and assigned through multiple registration agencies.

A DOI name is a unique string of characters with two components separated by a forward slash character:

The prefix is assigned to a registration agency and starts with “10.” typically followed by a sequence four numbers. For scientific journals the registration agency is traditionally the publisher and the prefix is shared amongst all journals from the same publisher. The prefix can therefore give you a hint as to who published the work, but not the specific journal:

  • Nature: 10.1038
  • Science: 10.1126

The suffix on the other hand is assigned by the registration agency and can be any unique string. The structure of the suffix vary widely between publishers.

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