[Taxacom] In defense of DOIs
Richard.Zander at mobot.org
Mon Feb 15 17:27:25 CST 2010
Rod's list of attractive features of the DOi is impressive.
For those without the funds to participate, such as those operating monandpop journals (listen up, rogue publishers!) may I suggest the Informal Persistent Locator (IPL). This is an alphanumeric code generated randomly or pseudorandomly that is long enough not to be duplicated within geologic time by other randomly generated strings. Tack it on your article and cite it in your bibliography and you should always be able to find copies anywhere they may be on the Web.
whatever. Presto, a poor man's DOI, working solely as locator, unattached to any special bibliographic infrastructure beyond spidering.
Richard H. Zander
Missouri Botanical Garden
PO Box 299
St. Louis, MO 63166 U.S.A.
richard.zander at mobot.org
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu on behalf of Roderic Page
Sent: Mon 2/15/2010 4:15 AM
Subject: [Taxacom] In defense of DOIs
In one of your recent posts (http://markmail.org/message/fokdb5ipl2th2b4k
) you "applaud Zootaxa for not wanting to enter into the DOI money-
go-round, which would have resulted in less new taxonomy being
published due to more time/money being wasted on pointless beauracracy
I'm as much against pointless bureaucracy as anybody, but I'm not
sure you are aware of the benefits DOIs bring to electronic
publication. DOIs underpin stable citation linking in modern journals,
and have several advantages over raw URLs.
1. Every time they changed web site technology there was a good chance
URLs to articles would change, breaking existing links. DOIs hide this
using indirection (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indirection ).
2. When publishers merge or are acquired (e.g., Wiley and Blackwell)
the DOIs don't change, whereas the URLs to the articles do (publishers
don't want their URLs "branded" with the names of former rivals that
they have bought out). This means users can blissfully ignore who is
publishing the content, the links "just work".
3. If the list of literature cited on an article web page use URLs,
then a publisher is effectively branding their content with URLs to
rival publishers. DOIs "hide" this, making linking much more palatable
But the real benefits come from the services provided by CrossRef (http://www.crossref.org <http://www.crossref.org/>
)that underlie DOIs. For example,
1. Given a DOI I can retrieve details about the publication (e.g.,
article title, journal, etc.). No more typing bibliographies. This
service has spawned a whole ecosystem of bibliographic tools such as http://www.connotea.org <http://www.connotea.org/>
, http://citeulike.org <http://citeulike.org/> , http://www.zotero.org <http://www.zotero.org/> , and http://www.mendeley.com <http://www.mendeley.com/>
that make it easy to manage bibliographies online (these sites are
also generating social networks of researchers on the back of this
2. Given article metadata I can find the DOI (if it exists). This
service enables publishers to convert lists of papers cited to
actionable links. It also enables sites such as Wikipedia to
automatically convert citations into clickable links.
But there is more. Given that when a publisher registers an article
with CrossRef the publisher can submit a list of DOIs for the
publications cited by that article, CrossRef can provide "forward
linking", which means that for any article the publisher can list not
only the papers cited, but who is citing that article.
Imagine an article in Nature that cites a publication in, say,
Zootaxa. At the moment, the Nature article has no link to the Zotaxa
paper. The reader has to Google the paper. Furthermore, once they find
the Zootaxa paper, the reader has no information on who has cited that
paper. If I was a Zootaxa author, I'd love to know what papers were
citing my work.
I fully accept that DOIs add additional work load and cost to
publication, and that these are not trivial considerations. But please
don't dismiss DOIs as pointless bureaucracy. I'd argue DOIs have been
an extraordinary success, and the academic publishing landscape would
be a mess without them (or services that provided the same
Lastly, imagine if we had similar services for the other things we
care about, such as taxonomic names and specimens. Services that gave
us metadata about these things, as well as told us how they are
interrelated (e.g., this name was published in this article, this
specimen is the holotype for this name, etc.). In other words,
something like CrossRef for biology. This is why I'm in biodiversity
informatics -- I want a CrossRef for biodiversity.
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