What are DOIs and what is BHL doing with them?

A DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is a unique permanent identifier that provides a persistent link to a digital object. When a DOI is assigned to a publication, such as a journal article, that DOI becomes part of the publication’s bibliographic information and should be included (as a link) whenever the publication is referenced. DOIs thus create a linked network of scholarly research, enabling readers to click from publication to publication. They also facilitate persistent linking to publications from websites, blog posts, tweets, Wikipedia articles, etc.

The vast majority of historic publications lack DOIs and thus sit outside this linked network. BHL is working to change this. BHL started minting DOIs for historic publications in 2011, focusing primarily on books and monographs. In October 2020, BHL launched a new Persistent Identifier Working Group (PIWG) whose first assignment is to retrospectively mint DOIs for the articles on BHL, thereby bringing the world’s legacy biodiversity journals into the modern linked network of knowledge.

DOIs not only enable persistent linking to BHL content; they also allow us to track how that content is being used. For example, in October 2020, BHL minted a DOI for the first scientific description of the Duck-billed Platypus (published in 1799 and contributed to BHL by Museums Victoria): https://doi.org/10.5962/p.304567. By April 2021, the article had been tweeted by 219 twitter accounts, referenced in six Wikipedia pages, picked up by one news outlet and cited in an academic paper (data from Altmetric, April 2021). We know this because the article has a DOI.

To learn more about DOIs, please see:

Want to know more about BHL’s Persistent Identifier Working Group? See:

With regards to persistent identifiers, BHL also produces persistent and stable URLs for our content and will ensure viability of these URLs. Learn more.

Tags: digital object identifier, DOI, IDs, Crossref, cite, citation, permalink, linking, persistent identifiers, RetroPIDs.