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June 14, 2007

DOIs explained

Writing about web page http://www.shaker.eu/Onlineservice/Register.asp?Modus=Archiv&AID=169

This is a succinct and handy explanation of DOIs.


December 13, 2006

What is a DOI?

Writing about web page http://dx.doi.org/

Jenny here: even though it looks like Alejandro wrote this, he had used my computer to show me something and was signed in!

Since CrossRef has launched its new tool for parsing simple text references and finding DOIs to match (see previous posting), Alejandro and I were discussing what is a DOI, how this relates to OpenURL, and what has CrossRef got to do with it all?

The DOI is a Digital Object Identifier.

My understanding as a non-techie is that the DOI has emerged over the years as the predominant form of identifier for electronic texts in the academic community. There are other forms, such as the electronic isbn and issn, the URI and the PURL. However, I read about most of these when I first qualified in librarianship way back in 2000, and since then I have come across the DOI and the electronic isbn/issn most often. The electronic isbn/issn is not that useful in linking to the electronic content, not least because it is used to refer to an entire book or journal, whilst the content being at chapter or article level is often the part that people want to link to. When we build OpenURLs for journal articles in the RIU or through Build-a-Link, we actually use the print issn as this is most consistent. The DOI can be used to link directly to the item it is assigned to. (See the linked page that you can use to generate a link if you know the DOI.)

The OpenURL is a way of linking to a journal article using metadata or bibliographic or reference details – whatever you want to call them! It is basically a base string which relates to the provider of the electronic text and then a formatted combination of metadata.

So what does CrossRef have to do with both of these? Well, CrossRef acts as a clearing house for DOIs for scholarly and academic content. You can use CrossRef to find the DOI for an item. The publishers and providers register their content with CrossRef. CrossRef provides a resolver so that the publisher has a base string for an OpenURL. However, not every provider that has DOIs and that is registered with CrossRef also uses the OpenURL resolver facility (eg BioMed Central doesn’t use it but does register its content and DOIs with CrossRef.) Not every item on the CrossRef catalogue appears to have a DOI, and not every item that has a DOI is on CrossRef.

Clear as mud, isn’t it?!


December 08, 2006

More links to journal articles

Writing about web page http://www.crossref.org/freeTextQuery/

CrossRef have introduced a very neat tool that will look up the DOI of any journal article for you when you type in a reference in whatever format. It will give you the doi and a link built around the doi for a journal article. It will even look up several references at a time, if you have a list.

This has the potential to be a very useful and powerful tool. It is theoretically better than our Build-a-Link in so far as it will handle lists of references in any format whilst Build-a-Link only handles one reference at a time and requires you to enter each of the reference elements separately on a form.

However, it is not as good as Build-a-Link in that it can only work for journals provided by publishers who use Cross-Ref, and it does not have any information about our own collection of electronic journals. There is a danger of course that you will be building links using the Cross-Ref tool to journal articles which you won’t have access to through Warwick’s subscriptions.

Also, although it claims to recognise any format of reference, it did have trouble parsing some of the references that I cut and pasted in from a reading list.

I would be tempted to use it in conjunction with Build-a-Link if I had a reading list with lots of journal references that I wanted to build links to very quickly. Then any references which it couldn’t handle I would look up individually on Build-a-Link.


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