Digital Collections and persistent identifiers

We are delighted to announce that Digital Collections now have persistent identifiers in the form of DOIs attached to the objects in the repository. DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier. These are unique persistent identifiers that can be used to consistently identify digital objects online. They will ensure the sustainability of users’ citations and bookmarks beyond the generational lifecycle of the platform.

Illustration by Jørgen Stamp, digitalbevaring.dk, CC BY 2.5 Denmark

Why are persistent identifiers needed?

The college community will be aware that Digital Collections moved to a new platform in 2020 with new features designed to enhance user experience and engagement. With this move to a new platform the URLs of our old service no longer exist nor were they designed to exist beyond the life of the platform. This is an issue that all platforms face and as each generation of technology comes to the end of their lifecycle to be replaced by the next generation there is an issue where users have cited URLs in publications or embedded them within blogs or teaching materials and are faced with dead links.

What are the benefits of using a persistent identifier?

The major benefits of DOIs for users are that they eliminate the issue of ‘link rot’ where a link no longer directs to the content that it did originally. Link rot makes it hugely problematic for users to provide citations that can be confidently utilised in the future and makes them reliant on an external dependency (the website owner) not moving or removing the content. With DOI’s users can now cite or bookmark the DOI of an object rather than the URL and have confidence that this link will remain persistent and useable regardless of platform changes, aiding in more efficient management and tracking of your citations. The major difference is that a URL points to a location (i.e., a webpage) whereas a DOI points to a digital object, regardless of its location. The DOI is persistently attached to the digital object and therefore the object can be relocated to a different webpage or different platform multiple times but the DOI will always be directed to its current location. If the object moves so does the DOI link.

Where can I find an object’s DOI?

The DOI can be found at the top-level of the object within the objects metadata. For example, here is the location of the DOI for the digitised version of the Book of Kells on the Digital Collections platform: