DOI 101

What is a DOI?

A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is an alphanumeric string that is assigned to content in order to identify it and provide a persistent link to its location on the Internet. This link is functional even if the URLs or services change over time and the resource moves. Clicking on a DOI link takes you to that single resource and the same DOI will continue to resolve to the correct resources or services at their new locations.


Who is a DOI for?

A DOI can be assigned to scholarly digital content such as journal articles, books, datasets and theses. Therefore, it is of interest to a wide variety of researchers, students, academics, librarians, policy-makers, journalists and those interested in keeping up-to-date with the latest research.

What are the benefits of getting a DOI?

Having a DOI means that if your research is ever mentioned, discussed or shared on social media, Altmetrics will collate it together with any other online attention they’ve seen for that item and display it via the Altmetric page, along with its own unique donut and score.


DOIs for grey literature?

Grey literature such as policy documents, patents, theses, preprints and even working papers can have DOIs coined for them retrospectively. This kind of literature is more difficult to measure since they are not tracked by Web of Science and other citation indexes. However, having a DOI coined for these not only provides a permament resolver directing to the correct resource on the Internet but also makes the research visible to Altmetrics and measurable for any mention or discussion that the content might generate online.

How do I get a DOI?

DOIs are assigned at the time of publication and institutions that meet the criteria of the DOI system are able to ‘mint’ their own. At LSHTM Research Online we’ve been busy ‘minting’ DOIs for the theses that have been deposited in the institutional repository. Whenever a new thesis is deposited, it triggers the process of making the content Open Access and ‘minting’ a brand new DOI. The research is automatically tweeted by the Library, which means that it is immediately picked up by Altmetrics. Thus, making the research output accessible, visible, citable and measurable.

If you would like to have a DOI assigned to your thesis, monograph, book chapter, preprints and other grey literature, simply email

Click here to find out more about Almetrics.

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