Day 19: Make your work permanent and trackable with unique identifiers

Throughout this challenge, we’ve touched on the importance of having persistent identifiers like DOIs for your research.

DOIs – digital object identifiers–make it easy for others to find your work by providing a permanent, unique identifier for each research output. That identifier will always redirect to where your work is stored, even if the URL changes, the journal you were published in disappears, and so on. All you have to do to make a DOI linkable is append “” to the front of a DOI. For example, you can make DOI 10.3109/02699206.2014.956263 linkable by writing it as “”.

DOIs also make it easy to track when and where your research is cited, discussed, shared, bookmarked, or otherwise used across the Internet. DOIs are widely used, understood by most researchers, and well supported by platforms that track impacts across the Web.

Let’s dig into how you can get a unique identifier for articles and other types of research outputs. It will set you up well for our final Challenge, which will cover services you can use to track the impacts of your work using DOIs and other permanent identifiers.

 DOIs for articles & preprints

Many journals issue DOIs for journal articles automatically. So, getting a DOI for your articles can be as easy as publishing with a journal that issues them.

If you’re planning to publish (or have already published) in a journal that doesn’t offer DOIs, that’s okay! You can archive a post-print (as mentioned in Day 13, this is a peer-reviewed final draft of the article that’s not the formatted, published version) of your article on NOVA and receive a unique identifier or in a platform that issues DOIs like Figshare or Zenodo. Here’s how:


Once you have followed the Challenge from Day 13: Submit your post-prints, and your article has been published to NOVA you will see your identifier:


All records published in NOVA have ‘handles,’ however if you haven’t submitted your post-print, chances are your output won’t be available full-text open access; it’ll just be a metadata record with a link to the published version. So don’t forget to submit your post-prints when you have them!

Figshare & Zenodo

All of these services work pretty much the same for issuing DOIs: you upload an article and a DOI is assigned automatically. We’ll briefly walk you through the process here using Figshare as an example.

  • Login to Figshare and click the “Upload” link in the upper-right corner.
  • Upload the article and click the “Add info” link.
  • Add a description of the file (metadata). Be as thorough as possible when describing it; rich descriptions can make it easier to find your article using search engines.
  • Some journals require that you add a statement to the archived post-print. It’s usually something along the lines of: “This is a post-print version of the following article: [full citation pointing to publisher’s website]. It is posted here with the publisher’s permission.” You can usually find the statement on the “Author’s Rights” section of your journal’s website, and some relevant policies can be found on Sherpa/Romeo. If in doubt, check with the team at
  • Make the article “Public” (select the radio button for “Public” immediately to the left of the “Save changes” button.

On the item record that’s now live on the Web, you’ll see your DOI:


DOIs for data

As discussed in Day 11: Get you data cited, you can also get persistent identifiers for research data.

When should you mint a DOI for your data? Natasha Simons of ANDS says a DOI should be applied to data when:

  • The data will be exposed and forms part of the scholarly record (this can be when you’re publishing supplementary data alongside a paper, “opening up” unpublished datasets, or otherwise making your data available to others);
  • The data can be kept persistent (it won’t have to be removed from the repository);
  • And the minimum DataCite metadata schema requirements can be met (you’ll need to provide information on the dataset’s Creator, Title, Publisher, and Publication Year; the Publisher information is communicated by your repository)

As mentioned in Day 11: Get your data cited, you can get a unique identifier for data by using open repositories like Figshare or Zenodo, or by using our institutional repository NOVA.

DOIs for everything else

You can also easily mint DOIs for your slide decks, posters, and even your blog posts if you upload them to Zenodo or Figshare.


Many of the limitations of DOIs are caused by human error. For example, though it’s ideal for your links to your work to use the DOI link (more on that below), you can’t control whether others will actually do it. That’s because research is often shared online using regular, easy-to-copy URLs instead of DOIs.

The best you can do is provide the DOI wherever you share your research output. Citation styles such as  APA 6th include a space DOIs, so make such you include them in your citations so that anyone who shares your work will hopefully see it and follow your lead.

It’s also bad form to create more than one DOI for a research output. So don’t mint a DOI for anything that’s already got one.

The final limitation is that we’re all counting on the publisher or service provider to keep the DOI record up to date with the DOI registration agency (most commonly Crossref or DataCite). And keeping records up-to-date is what ensures that DOIs point to the correct place on the Web (which you’ll remember is useful if URLs change or journals fold).

Most reputable publishers do this, but some publishers and repositories may not be as responsible (for example, as far as we know, ResearchGate do mint DOIs but they don’t have a documented preservation policy). If you’re not sure if the publisher’s archiving policy is up to snuff, ask them about it.


First, mint a Handle (by submitting post-prints to NOVA) or DOIs for your 5 most important research outputs that don’t already have them. Bonus points if some of those outputs are not articles.

Once you have your DOIs, use them:

  • Put them onto your CV alongside your research products;
  • Put clearly-labelled preferred citations that include DOIs into your dataset or software documentation; and encourage others to always link to your review using the DOI resolver link (these are created by putting “” in front of your DOI; for example

Now that you’ve got DOIs for your most important research outputs, we’ll explore how you can use Altmetrics and impact-tracking services like to discover how often they’re cited, saved, shared, discussed, and otherwise reused online.

I am sure you are aware, tomorrow is Good Friday – so we are going to save our final day for when you come back from Easter break. We’ll be back on Wednesday 30 March with how you can discover when your work is discussed and shared online, and a wrap-up of our 30 Day Challenge. Have a great break!


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