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If you are working on the World Wide Web and you encounter a scientific paper, the chances are that its references will carry links via the DOI which will enable you to find the location of each reference online. In other words it will take you to the publisher’s website where you will be able to access usually a least a summary of the reference in question. The DOI system is an implementation of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives's (CNRI) Handle System, a system for assigning names to objects for name resolution. DOIs are handles with the prefix "10."; handles for other namespaces in the Handle System have different prefixes.

A Digital object identifier has the following format

doi: 10.xxxx/abcd

10 is a code signifying a DOI (see above)
xxxx is a code denoting the publisher of the journal
abcd is a variable identifier assigned by the publisher to the document. It will contain a code identifying the journal and the will also contain the year of publication. It can integrate existing standard identifiers such as an ISBN or ISSN.

But what happens if you are working from a paper copy? The references in a printed scientific manuscript will have generally speaking the DOI as well as a volume page number and year date. To find such a paper you have two choices: one is to use the volume number, page numbers and year date to locate the paper in question in a library, the other is to find it online using the DOI. To do this type the following into the address box of your web browser:
followed by the DOI of the document. 

DOI resolution is provided through the Handle System technology, developed by the Corporation for National Research Initiatives, and is freely available to any user encountering a DOI.

Each DOI is associated with a series of metadata, a set of bibliographical and commercial information concerning the content (title, author, publication date, copyright, price, etc.) and its position within the whole registrant's publishing offer (the belonging of a title to a series, of an article to a serial, the availability of one publication in more formats and/or through different media, etc.). By means of metadata, the DOI configures not simply as an identifying string, but takes the form of a powerful and unambiguous tool for data storage and exchange.


  Page uploaded 4 May 2009