Persistent identifiers - what’s in it for researchers?

As a researcher, you know how important it is to reference the works you build upon using proper citations. In your work, maybe you’ve come across DOIs or digital object identifiers in the reference section of papers (e.g. 10.1371/journal.pbio.0000057, which links to a published article entitled: ‘The what and whys of DOIs’; worth the 3-minute read!). These DOIs provide a unique way to identify an article so there’s no confusion between Barely et al. and Barley et al. DOIs are also persistent. If a publisher site changes, you’ll still be able to find the article in question. Furthermore, many popular reference managers support DOI lookup so you don’t have to enter bibliographic details by hand. You can also easily format the citations in your reference list in different journal styles using a service like the DOI Citation Formatter.

Persistent identifiers are a key way to make sure the scholarly record is connected and understandable. But why stop at articles? You can use persistent identifiers (e.g. accession numbers and DOIs) for data sets and software. To make sure your data contributions are easy to find and cite - see this 2015 guide from the Digital Curation Centre on how to cite datasets and link to publications.

You can also get your own personal persistent identifier (ORCID) that unambiguously identifies you as a researcher to ensure that your scholarly contributions are always linked to you no matter if you change institutions or roles. (Plus, you don’t have to keep re-entering your personal information in every new system.) For example, ORCID auto-update makes sure your ORCID profile is constantly updated with your latest research outputs so you can have consistent trace of your work.