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Drexel Library

Research Data Management Resources

What is a DOI?

Digital Object Identifier or DOI is a persistent identifier or handle used to uniquely identify objects. DOIs are in wide use mainly to identify academic, professional, and government information, such as journal articles, research reports and data sets, and official publications though they also have been used to identify other types of information resources, such as commercial videos.

A DOI aims to be "resolvable", usually to some form of access to the information object to which the DOI refers. This is achieved by binding the DOI to metadata about the object, such as a URL, indicating where the object can be found. The DOI for a document remains fixed over the lifetime of the document, whereas its location and other metadata may change. Referring to an online document by its DOI is supposed to provide a more stable link than simply using its URL.

DOI names can identify creative works (such as texts, images, audio or video items, and software) in both electronic and physical forms, performances, and abstract works such as licenses, parties to a transaction, etc. The names can refer to objects at varying levels of detail: thus DOI names can identify a journal, an individual issue of a journal, an individual article in the journal, or a single table in that article. The choice of level of detail is left to the assigner, but in the DOI system it must be declared as part of the metadata that is associated with a DOI name.

How can I get a DOI?

How can I get a DOI for my . . . article, chapter, report, dataset, video, etc.?

DOIs for journal articles, or other types of publications, are usually issued by the publisher.

The Drexel University Libraries subscribes to Crossref, one of the Registration Agencies that manage DOI creation and registration services, and can assist with providing DOIs for datasets and other non-published "objects".  The Libraries' requirements for providing a DOI is that:

  • The creator must supply basic metadata (this includes Creators, Title, Publisher, Year of publication and a brief abstract) 
  • The dataset or object should be one that will be cited in the scholarly record

To request a DOI for your research work:

  • If you are submitting your research work to Drexel Research Discovery (powered by Esploro), a DOI will be registered for you and emailed to you once your work is accepted into Esploro. Please contact the Drexel University Archives at for questions about the submission process.
  • If you are not submitting your research work to Drexel Research Discovery:
    • Fill out an online DOI Registration Request Form. You will be asked to provide your contact information as well as the following information about your work: creator name(s), title, publisher, year of publication, a brief abstract, and the URL to the file in the non-Drexel repository in which your work resides.
    • The file linked should be the same version of your research work that will be cited in the scholarly record (i.e., not a draft).
    • A DOI will be registered for you and emailed to you within five business days of your request.
    • If your research work is not stored in Drexel Research Discovery, you are responsible for notifying us at if the file itself or the URL to the work changes.

Please contact the Libraries via if you need assistance with this service.

How can I use a DOI to find an article?

Many search engines and databases can be used to find a journal article associated with a DOI.  To find Drexel-subscribed sources for full-text, try:

  • Search by DOI/PMID (LibKey) - searches across the web for articles available via Drexel Libraries' journal subscriptions. Use this if if you know the DOI (digital object identifier) or PMID (PubMed Identifier). Not every item you want will have a DOI or a PMID. Not every item you search for will be available through the Drexel Libraries. If we don't have it, you will be presented with an option to request it via ILLiad (Interlibrary Loan
  • Google Scholar (proxied for Drexel fulltext)

Note that your search results may include articles that CITE the article you're seeking, because the DOI is included in the references.

Other resources for "translating" DOIs, including those for datasets and other sources: