The accessibility and re-usability of digital resources over time can be assured by the application of persistent identification.

Persistent identifiers – what and why

An identifier is a unique identification code that is applied to 'something', so that the 'something' can be unambiguously referenced.
A persistent identifier is an identifier that is effectively permanently, and unambiguously assigned to an object e.g. ISBNs, DOIs, and national insurance numbers.

Short-term benefits

  • Globally unique identification can help to reduce confusion over multiple versions of a given resource.
  • Persistent identifiers can help to improve the ease of locatability of distributed resources thereby facilitating access and re-use of resources for new research.
  • Identifier strategies can integrate legacy naming systems and promote interoperability.

Long-term value

  • The application of identifiers may indicate a level of commitment on the part of the creating organisation. This can have a positive impact on the levels of trust towards that institution.
  • Identifiers may help to provide provenance information which can positively impact the authenticity of a resource over time.

The above is taken from GBIF (2011). A Beginner’s Guide to Persistent Identifiers, version 1.0. Released on 9 February 2011. Authors Kevin Richards, Richard White, Nicola Nicolson, Richard Pyle, Copenhagen: Global Biodiversity Information Facility, 33 pp, accessible onlinepdf

What is a Digital Object Identifier (DOI)?

DataCite provide this definition:

The Digital Object Identifier (DOI®) System is for identifying content objects in the digital environment.

DOI® names are assigned to any entity for use on digital networks. They are used to provide current information, including where they (or information about them) can be found on the Internet.

Information about a digital object may change over time, including where to find it, but its DOI name will not change.

The system is managed by the International DOI Foundation, an open membership consortium including both commercial and non-commercial members.  Over 40 million DOI names have been assigned by DOI System Registration Agencies.

Minting a DOI

DOI names are widely used in scientific publishing to cite journal articles. More 98% of all DOI registered are for scholarly articles. The use of DOI names for the citing of data sets makes their provenance trackable and citable and therefore allows interoperability with existing reference services.

Link rot

"Link rot" is a term used to describe the fact that web URLs fail over time – studies have found half URLs in scholarly publications will fail after seven to ten years
(Diomidis Spinellis, “The Decay and Failures of Web References” COMMUNICATIONS OF THE ACM January 2003/Vol. 46, No. 1 -)

Contact Us


t: 0116 252 2310