What is a DOI?
As defined by the International DOI Foundation, "the Digital Object Identifier (DOI®) is a system for identifying and exchanging intellectual property in the digital environment. Developed by the International DOI Foundation, it provides a framework for managing intellectual content, for linking customers with content suppliers, for facilitating electronic commerce, and enabling automated copyright management for all types of media."
In the simplest terms, the DOI is a persistent identifier for an article as well as a system which processes that identifier to deliver content requested by a user. In the future, a DOI will be clickable like a URL, but will differ from a URL in that it will identify an object (like an article), not the location (Scitation, for example) where that object is located. A DOI is linked to an object by a resolver system, and the location to which it resolves may be changed easily by the publisher without the user ever reaching a dead-end or broken link.
What Does This Mean for Scitation Users?
Presently, DOIs are merely displayed on the HTML abstracts of all Scitation articles, as well as in the full-text versions (PDF and PostScript, and eventually full-text HTML, where available) of all articles beginning with January 2001 issues. (DOIs for legacy data will appear only in the HTML abstracts as the DOI database continues to be back-filled.)
How Do I Use A DOI?
Even though the DOI is currently only displayed, the functional aspects of the DOI itself and the DOI system when deployed for linking will be utterly transparent to the user. In the near-future, the DOI will become a primary linking tool for publishers participating in the CrossRef project, a collaborative reference linking service. Ultimately, this means that when an Scitation user clicks on a reference citation in a journal and immediately accesses the cited article or bibliographic record, he or she would have been directed there by the DOI-based linking system enabled by the CrossRef service. The DOI pinpoints the location of the content on the Internet, and CrossRef serves as a "digital switchboard" that directs users to that location.
Want to Know More About the DOI and Its Use?
See the International DOI Foundation FAQ for more information.