Proposal to generally refer to a DOI or DOIs only with a modifier


There’s been something I’ve been thinking about for awhile. It’s quite common to references to DOIs - for example, “Do DOIs do X” or “What’s the best practice for DOIs about X”. There are 10 different DOI Registration Agencies all with different policies and services so I’d like to propose that DOIs be modified appropriately - for example, Crossref DOIs, DataCite DOIs, KISTI DOIs. This will avoid confusion.

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I guess it depends on the audience.

Among PID nerds, why not. Differences in policies and services across DOI registration agencies should be openly documented and discussed.

But outside of the PID crowd, wouldn’t we run the risk of creating confusion? How much of DOI usage is actually modifier-specific? Should the average DOI user care about where a given DOI was registered? Shouldn’t we focus on commonalities to maximize adoption?

The person/organisation creating/requesting a DOI must definitely care because different object types need different metadata and each of the RAs has a specific focus on the kinds of objects it promotes DOIs for. Thus, users requiring a DOI need a clear understanding of who to request it from.

Distinctions are not relevant for resolution as long as there is at least one well-known resolver (e.g., at that can resolve all DOIs no matter through which RA they were created.

This is the same as for Internet domain names - you need to know where to go to obtain/administer the correct one but after that it doesn’t matter.

Other services than simple resolution require you to know which RA created the DOI so you can choose the correct service e.g., for metadata search. Again, this is similar to the DNS system with its multiple whois services.

To some extent we already talk about DataCite DOIs, Crossref DOIs, EIDRs, etc. so what Ed proposes is already happening in practice.

Hi - good questions. I agree that differences in policies and services should be discussed and this is helped by being clear about which RA is involved. This isn’t just useful for “PID nerds” but will avoid confusion with non-PID nerds. Crossref has to constantly push back against the idea that DOIs are a sign of credibility or validation - or that a publisher just needs to get a “DOI number” and their job is done. Also, I think that the focus on PIDs rather than broader issue around metadata and open scholarly infrastructure are problematic but that’s a different post!

The only thing is common across all DOIs is that they can be resolved vis

Do you know where you’ll go/what you’ll see following this link?

A lot of discussions in this PID Forum assume all DOIs are scholarly DOIs when this isn’t the case. There is EIDR in the entertainment industry and there will be a new RA soon in the construction industry.

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Good points but I don’t see (or see enough) of talk of DataCite DOIs, Crossref DOIs, EIDRs, etc.

I think it’s a matter of how users associate value to the brand variants. With EIDR it’s not an issue because EIA promotes EIDR Ids and rarely (if at all) mentions DOI. On the other hand, in the scholarly sector, people just assume all DOIs deliver the same value.

We are facing this in our work to determine the most appropriate PID scheme for identifying Digital Specimens in the Distributed System of Scientific Collections (DiSSCo) research infrastructure where we must decide whether it works for or against us to create a perception of a specific ‘natural sciences identifier’ (NSId) or to use the more generic and/or existing brands. Like EIDR we need our own quite specific metadata schema for Digital/Extended Specimens and we need to encourage registrants to request PIDs against that schema rather than any other with a similar sounding name. But are there drawbacks from using a brand definition like NSId in a sector where concepts like DOI are already well-known?

We already see examples of digital records for natural history specimens with DataCite DOIs where information has been shoe-horned into the DataCite schema - not even consistently from one specimen to the next - because that schema is tailored for datasets and not to what we want to assign identifiers to. This makes these specimen records hard to find in metadata search and next t impossible to process.

Hi - all good points that you raise. EIDR is a interesting case. As you note, DOI is in the background, but still important. Looking back on Crossref’s history it may have been better if we had called our IDs “Crossref Citation Identifiers” or something like that. What metadata schema is used a separate issue. Crossref and DataCite have expanded their schemas to include proper metadata for different content types - most recently, Crossref added grants. I don’t think having a specific/specialized metadata schema means you have to be your own RA (although there may be other reasons for this) - expand the schema of an existing RA. In terms of using a different name for the identifier - it makes sense for EIDR or a construction industry ID - but if something is scholarly and you want the same services as Crossref or DataCite DOIs then maybe not.