A DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is a persistent identifier (PID). PIDs are long lasting digital references to objects, people or organisations. For example, ORCiD and other researcher IDs are persistent identifiers for people.
In the context of of research visibility, persistent identifiers like DOIs are provided by services that allow you to update the location of a research output so that the identifier consistently points to the current online location, or to an online record describing the item.
While information such as a URL might provide a unique reference to a digital object, it is not necessarily persistent. If the object is removed from a website, or its location or online address changes, then the URL will no longer point to the object. A DOI (or other PID) overcomes this problem by continuing to provide access to the object regardless of its location.
A DOI will therefore provide long term discoverability of your work, and will assist with accurate citations and metrics analysis.
You can also use your DOIs in your social media and other communications to link readers directly to your research outputs.
Research Data Netherlands (2014). Persistent identifiers and data citation explained. (4:51 mins)
When your work is accepted for publication by an academic publisher a DOI will be usually be assigned and maintained by the publisher.
You can deposit your research output in Figshare at RMIT to get a DOI. There are several benefits of using Figshare:
Find out more about Figshare at RMIT.
There are many other kinds of persistent identifiers besides DOIs. These include codes such as ISBNs or ISSNs for books and journals which distinguish them unique textual objects. In the research environment there are other digital persistent identifier schemes with associated resolvers which retrieve the objects they identify on the web. These digital schemes include HANDL, PURL, ARK, XRI, and LSID. Different schemes may be preferred by different research communities.
Learn more about different persistent identifiers.