What is a DOI used for?

This post is supposed to answer the question of “what is a DOI used for?”. DOIs were first introduced to digitally track online articles, but many more important implications were later added to the identifier, some of which have been discussed here:

Recording citations

The most implication of a DOI at the moment is to register and record citations to articles. Citations used to be recorded via Google Scholar before, whereby the cited article`s title was added to the published piece in its reference section. But this method of citation recording had an immense problem; its often crippling downside was that the cited article`s full title, publisher name, and even the authors` names needed to be cited absolutely correctly at the end of the article, conforming to one of the standard reference writing formats. Now, the smallest error in any of these sections means that the citation was not going to count for the mentioned article and consequently the journal owning the paper. One such loss is the rejection notices that journals often received from ISI and other indexing sources such as Scopus

The reason here is that these Indexing sources often take into account a journal`s citations when trying to assess and evaluate a submission, and if the journal has too few citations, the more likely response would be to turn down the request. Many journals do enjoy a great number of citations; the problem, though, is that most of these citations go unaccounted for; even after being accepted by the ISI, if the journal is not assigned a DOI, it owns a much lower impact factor than reality. It is estimated that if a particular journal is accepted by the ISI and it starts using DOI, its impact factor is doubled or tripled during the first year.

Increasing the visibility

A fundamental challenge for all journals and authors is undoubtedly making their work available to and reaching a wider audience. The information of those journals that have been issued a DOI is then recorded on various high-ranking digital bases. Thus the articles are made available to a greater range of audiences through search engines. This increase in visibility is one factor based on which the journal`s rank is evaluated; therefore, all world-class journals always obtain DOIs for their published articles.

Prevent plagiarism

iThenticate software, the most trusted plagiarism checker, only searches through those articles that have been issued a DOI as published papers. Numerous journals use iThenticate services around the world. All articles published by these journals, if issued a DOI, are automatically uploaded to the software`s database. Later at any point in time, all submitted articles are checked for plagiarism. In case of even the smallest similarities with its DOI-issued articles, both the author of the article and the journal are informed.

Facilitating acceptance of articles with indexes

Numerous indexes such as the ISI, PubMed, Scopus, DOAJ, ScienceGate and etc., always ask questions in their initial evaluation forms regarding whether the submitting journal uses DOIs or not, and although it is not a rule for these indexes, however, it is well known that those journals that do use DOIs have a much higher rate of acceptance than those who do not.

Accessing Crossref premium services for articles with DOIs

Here are the Crossref premium services for published articles:


The offered service is a coordinated effort between Crossref and iThenticate, mentioned earlier. In return for issuing DOIs for articles, Crossref organization allows access to its database by iThenticate, thereby protecting all articles with DOIs from plagiarism.

Cited-by Linking

 the service allows the articles and their references to be locked to one another in a chain, thereby counting every single citation to the article. For this to occur, the publisher must provide the DOIs of all the article’s references at the end of the XML file at the time of submission. This action creates a chain-like situation between a particular title and its references. To check which of the references cited in the articles have been issued DOIs, Crossref provides Simple Text Query service free of charge to the public. All that needs to be done is to copy the article`s references in the box provided by the service and click submit. The results are shown after a few moments; the DOIs of those references who`ve been issued one are displayed in red. This service guarantees the recording of all citations to the articles and the improvement of the journals` impact factor.

Crossref Metadata Services

 The service is able to provide the information required by some of the indexes automatically, without the need for the journal`s mediation.

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