DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier, a system to unambiguously identify - and thereby, be able to reliably cite - creative and research outputs. It was developed in the late 1990s, and implemented in the early 2000s, primarily and originally for articles in scholarly journals. For some examples of the use of DOIs in citing sources, see How to Use the New DOI Format in APA Style; and for more details on the DOI infrastructure, the Key Facts on the Digital Object Identifier System.) Since those early years, DOIs have also become adopted for datasets and other research outputs.
DOIs are (intended to be) globally unique, persistent identifiers:
American University Library generates and maintains DOIs for selected items in its Digital Research Archive, with item migration to the American University Research Archive (AURA) in progress in the summer of 2023. All of those items can be found via DataCite Commons, with specific subsets for American University Research Archive and American University Digital Research Archive.
The library can also "reserve" DOIs for articles, reports, datasets, etc., created by AU researchers before the DOI is made "live" and pointed to that digital object with a URL. For example, we have created a DOI for a report to include in the suggested citation that that report contains. Please send any inquiries about this service to DataCite@american.edu.
In the "scholarly ecosystem" depicted here:
several questions may be asked by the parties involved, and from the outside:
by the university (for scholarly productivity or promotion and tenure review): what scholarly outputs has this researcher created and published? What do we need to do to accommodate his/her research output?
by funding agencies: what publications and datasets have been generated by this researcher's work that has been funded by us?
by publishers (of articles, books, etc.): how can we and our publications' readers find and identify the researcher, and research data, "behind" this publication?
by researchers: how can I easily list and cite my publications, datasets, funding sources?
by other researchers: how can I find out which dataset or datasets informed the findings in this publication? What publications resulted from this dataset I discovered?
The combination of Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) for datasets and publications, and ORCID iDs for researchers and research contributors can help establish these linkages easily and unambiguously. Persistent Identifiers for research organizations and funders have also been developed.
Source of graphic: presentation Linking research data and publications: a survey of the landscape in the social sciences at the Second Workshop on Linking and Contextualizing Publications and Datasets.