USGS - science for a changing world

USGS Data Management

Preserve > Persistent DOIs

U. S. Geological Survey Data Lifecycle Diagram Plan Acquire Preserve Publish/Share Describe (Metadata and Documentation) Manage Quality Backup and Secure
USGS Data Lifecycle Diagram

Persistent DOIs

The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) System is a scheme for locating digital data objects on the Internet. A DOI is a globally unique string of numbers and letters that is assigned to one digital object. DOIs are intended to be persistent and exist for the long term. While information about the digital object may be modified over time, the DOI locator always remains the same.

How are DOIs Useful?

Key Points

  • The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) System enables the location of digital objects on the Internet.
  • DOIs are globally unique, alphanumeric strings assigned to one digital object.
    • Technically a persistent locator, but has been used as a persistent identifier.
  • A digital object can be anything, but in the scientific field it is typically a scholarly article or a dataset.
  • DOIs can allow datasets to be tracked and cited.
  • DOIs encourage access, discovery, and potential reuse of datasets.
  • Visit the USGS DOI Creation Tool to create a DOI for an online digital object.

DOIs are technically persistent locators because they provide information about where the digital object can be located but they can also serve as persistent identifiers as well. DOIs have typically been assigned to published scholarly articles as a means of citation.

However a growing number of DOIs have been assigned to datasets as digital objects for citation. The use of DOIs can largely increase the ability to track and cite entire datasets which may enable greater access, discovery, and potential reuse.

DOIs can be obtained through registration agencies such as USGS, DataCite, CrossRef, and UC3EZID.

Best Practices

  • Assign DOIs to published scholarly articles or ask your publisher to do so.
    • Some publishers may already require this.
  • When assigning a DOI for a dataset:
    • Try to assign a DOI for each version of your dataset if you want to track changes to the dataset.
    • Include the DOI in the citation of the dataset [see Describe > Data Citation for more information].


  • USGS DOI Creation Tool
  • Description:
    USGS Core Science Analytics and Synthesis and DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory Mercury Consortium established a Digital Object Identifier service for USGS and Mercury data/metadata projects. The DOI creation tool is offered through the California Digital Library's UC3EZID which enables a digital object producer to obtain and manage persistent identifiers for their digital content.

Recommended Reading


Can't open pdf files? Get Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Email Us
Page Last Modified: Monday, November 24, 2014