skip to content

Open Research


What is a DOI?

DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier. Each DOI is a permanent and unique identifier or label that can be applied to and used to identify any object or item. The name is slightly misleading as DOIs can be created for physical as well as digital items. A DOI is therefore a digital identifier of an object although they are most commonly used to identify items on the web.

At the Office of Scholarly Communication we create (or mint) DOIs for items that are deposited on the Apollo repository.

What does a DOI look like?

A DOI name looks like this: 10.17863/CAM.11283

It's easy to turn a DOI name into one that works as a web link by adding to the front:

Currently this DOI web link actually points to the webpage at this URL:

A URL is a Universal Resource Locator. It points to a particular place. Using URLs in webpages or documents presents the risk that, if documents move, people following the link will arrive at a dead page. The DOI points to a particular object. A properly maintained DOI will always point to the underlying item, no matter how often it changes location.

At the OSC we guarantee to maintain all DOIs we create so they will always point correctly to the underlying item.

Why do I need one for my article/report/research data etc.?

Apart from the benefits outlined above, the other key benefit of a DOI is that it uniquely identifies the item to which the DOI points. With a DOI it is possible to disambiguate with complete certainty between other, similar items.

Because a DOI is a unique string of characters it's easy to analyse where it is cited in a text document or on the web.

An entire ecosystem has developed around the identification and analysis of DOIs. For example:

  • Altmetric analyses social media DOI references to provide metrics that allow authors to find where their work is being cited or reused.
  • A company called DataCite creates our DOIs for us. They take the descriptive data we supply and make it openly available for searching and re-use.
  • ORCID will, with the permission of the author, search the DataCite metadata store and automatically add to your profile research datasets, images and other works that contain your ORCID.
  • The Scholix framework uses DOI metadata to determine links between scholarly literature and underlying research data as well as determining where datasets are cited.

Getting a DOI for your work is one of the best ways to take advantage of the opportunities these tools provide.

How do I get one?

Deposit your item in the Apollo repository.

The Apollo repository is how the University of Cambridge disseminates its research outputs to the outside world. Apollo accepts many kinds of research outputs and the OSC works closely with University staff and researchers to make sure the types of material that Apollo accepts are representative of current practice.

The OSC maintains the Apollo Repository Terms of Use  policy which explains what kinds of research outputs can be deposited, how we manage end user access and the responsibilities of depositors and the Apollo repository itself.

The Office of Scholarly Communication website has detailed advice about how to deposit the most common forms of research output. If you don’t find your answer there please email and your request will be handled by the most appropriate team.


Our DOI Policy covers the types of work to which we will assign a DOI. Because of the permanent nature of a DOI, once we have assigned a DOI for an item we are very unlikely to change how the item is described on the Apollo repository. The policy describes the limited set of circumstances in which we will make changes and our preferred solution of DOI versioning.

Open Research Newsletter sign-up

Please contact us at to be added to the mailing list to receive our quarterly e-Newsletter.

The Office of Scholarly Communication sends this Newsletter to its subscribers in order to disseminate information relevant to open access, research data management, scholarly communication and open research topics. For details on how the personal information you enter here is used, please see our privacy policy