Why a DOI?

DOIbanner Recent data announcements rolling off of the virtual presses at NSIDC have included some new information: the DOI, or Digital Object Identifier associated with a data set. Decoding a DOI is a simple task and understanding its applications can be useful to the scientific research community.

The establishment of the DOI system was led by the non-profit International DOI Foundation (IDF). The system was approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 2010, which requires that DOI generation follow ISO standard 26324-2012. This standard states that DOIs can be assigned to any form of physical or digital content as a permanent and discoverable reference to the object. Look for them commonly assigned to journal articles, images, broadcast media, software, or as utilized by NSIDC, data sets.

The anatomy of a DOI includes a prefix that always begins with ‘10,’ indicating that the ID is a DOI. The second part of the prefix is typically four digits and identifies the registered holder of the DOI. For example, the four digit identifiers for NSIDC and NASA ESDIS, (which encompasses the NASA DAAC at NSIDC), are 10.7265 and 10.5067, respectively. The remainder of the code is generated by the owner of the DOI and may follow a personal convention. For DOIs assigned to NASA ESDIS data holdings, the rest of the DOI string will include the mission or program and data set ID.

Utilizing the EZID curation center at the University of California as its registration agency, NSIDC generated its first DOIs in 2012 for the World Glacier Inventory (doi:10.7265/N5/NSIDC-WGI-2012-02) and the Glacier Photograph Collection (doi:10.7265/N5/NSIDC-GPC-2009-12), followed by GLAS HDF5 data (doi:10.5067/ICESAT/GLAS/DATA125). Many data sets released at NSIDC have since followed suit.

DOIs are now included in NSIDC data citation suggestions where they are available. We encourage you to include them in your references.  Besides providing a permanent identifier for the data set, new promising applications of  DOIs in data discovery, cross referencing, and metadata management are emerging.