1. General questions

Who and what is DataCite?

DataCite is an international consortium of libraries and research institutions founded in London in 2009 aiming to facilitate access to research data on the Internet for scientists, promote the acceptance of research data as independent, unique, citable scientific objects, and thereby guarantee conformity to the rules of good scientific practice.
An important element in this is the citability of data via the Digital Object Identifier (DOI).

DataCite presently has 17 members from 13 countries (moore). German members include:

  • the German National Library of Sciences and Technology (TIB),

  • the German National Library of Medicine (ZB MED),

  • the GESIS Leibniz Institute for Social Sciences as well as

  • the German National Library of Economics (ZBW).

All four German institutions in DataCite are members of the Leibniz Association.
DataCite managing agent is TIB Hannover (German National Library of Science and Technology).

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What is a DOI?

A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a permanent, persistent identifier used for citing and linking electronic resources (texts, research data or other content). Updated, structured metadata is assigned to the document using the DOI name.

The DOI name is comprised of a unique alphanumeric character string; a prefix and suffix, whereby the prefix always begins with "10" and prefix and suffix are separated by a forward slash.
For example 10.4232/1.1 is a complete DOI name. 

A DOI-name is not case sensitive, i.e. there is no distinction between capital and lowercase letters in a text string (for example, 10.1392/roma081203 is the same as 10.1392/ROMA081203). This identifier is purely a simple character string and outside of usage in the DOI system, nothing can be derived or inferred from it.

Prefixes are assigned by the International DOI Foundation (IDF) via DataCite. Each data center is assigned its own prefix. The suffix is agreed by the publication agent in conjunction with da|ra.

"Remember, though, that the DOI name is an opaque string (a dumb number). No definitive information can or should be interpreted from the number in use. In particular, the fact that the DOI name has a prefix issued by a particular organization should not be used to identify the owner of any given intellectual property - the DOI name remains persistent through ownership changes, and the prefix is unaltered." (DOI-handbook)

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Why do I need a DOI?

There are three main benefits to participating in the DOI system:

  • Permanent, persistent identification: Each DOI uniquely, unequivocally and permanently identifies the assigned object.

  • Availability of information on the web: Via the Handle System, each DOI refers to one or more webpages assigned by the publication agent.

  • Semantic interoperability: The metadata associated with a DOI enables direct, precise communicating – with each user, from every location, at every point in the production/distribution chain – with regard to every detail of the objects related with one another.

Benefits of a persistent identifier for research data:

  • Facilitated access

  • Simple citation

  • Visibility of research

  • Proof of impact (citation rate)

  • Traceability of research

  • Support for secondary analysis

  • Visibility for data providers

  • Impact factor for data preparation

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What is the difference between DOI, URN und Handle?

DOI names are quality-tested and archived long-term by the registration agent and the International DOI Foundation. DOI names can be resolved by every computer with internet access from anywhere in the world. A URN is also quality-tested and archived long-term, but resolving has thus far only been possible via the assigning institution’s webpage, however this institution is not always known. 

A Handle is universally resolvable but has no superior institution responsible for ensuring its quality and is thus not well-suited for scientific citation. Handles are appropriate for large amounts of data which are to be globally cited.

Assigning URNs can be useful in cases where a document is being continually locally accessed within a closed system such as with dissertations, etc., for example.

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What is meant by DOI resolution?

A DOI name can be quickly and easily resolved to the URL associated with it. DOI resolution is made possible by the Handle system technology developed by CNRI. Simply enter the text string doi.org , followed by the DOI name in the address bar of a preferred browser.

An example: A DOI name of the form 10.4232/1.10059 would be resolved from the address: "https://doi.org/10.4232/1.10059“.
Click here to resolve your DOI via the da|ra site.

Resolution of a DOI name is to the stored and controlled metadata information (landing page). This offers the user a rapid, comprehensive overview of a multitude of entries on the dataset, such as, for example, title, survey period, primary researcher, content, etc., as well as information related to conditions governing access to the actual dataset. 

Access to the dataset will be determined by the present conditions of the storage location. The intended goal is to gain direct access to the dataset with the next click. 

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2. Questions concerning the work with da|ra

How do I obtain a DOI name for my data?

Social science and economic research organizations are authorized for DOI registration. Research data at the study level, aggregate data, microdata as well as qualitative research data are all eligible digital objects.

DOI-registration is via a user account provided to the publication agent by da|ra. A Service Level Agreement (SLA) must be completed with a da|ra operator (GESIS; ZBW) prior to the granting of a user account.

To obtain further information please contact us. We will get in touch with you right away with information about concluding a Service Level Agreement (SLA).

More information on requirements for the allocating of DOI names can be found in the da|ra policy.

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Is it possible to register only a single DOI name?

It is also possible to register only a single dataset or a small amount of data. A Service Level Agreement is also required for this.

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What does DOI registration cost?

da|ra is offering DOI registration free of charge.  If the business modell should be changed da|ra will promptly inform the publication agents according to the terms and timeframe of the SLA and the publication agent has the right to terminate the SLA signed with da|ra effective immediately.

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Can I register fulltext and/or publications via da|ra?

Yes. In the course of the introduction of the resource type "text" we offer the registration of DOI names for open access journals, grey literature etc. via da|ra.

We recommend to upload those fulltexts into the Social Science Open Access Repository (SSOAR) run by GESIS. SSOAR is a fulltext server for the social sciences. Fulltext planned for, or already in publication (such as journal articles or research reports) can be placed in SSOAR to be made available online. The content from SSOAR is linked with other resources such as open access journal articles and also with extant offers (such as those from virtual libraries).

DOI names for publications offered by publishing houses can be obtained from CrossRef; a collaborative reference link service. CrossRef does not aggregate fulltext content but functions with links via Digital Object Identifier, which mark metadata from articles offered by participating publishers. The result is a link system allowing researchers to obtain the cited article by clicking on a citation/reference in a journal.

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What happens if the URLs or metadata change?

It is possible to modify the metadata in our database. The publication agent is responsible for this. Changes to a URL are updated in the da|ra system within three (3) working days and metadata is amended accordingly.

da|ra reserves the right to regularly check that metadata is up-to-date. The results of these checks will be made available to the publication agents. In the event that metadata is repeatedly not updated a public notice to this effect will be published in the da|ra system for this entry.

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How do I obtain the data belonging to a study?

As a rule registered data and datasets remain with the datacenters. Access to a study’s data/datasets is via redirect to the website of the data provider.

It may be necessary to conclude a contract with the data provider for onpassing of data (SOEP), and/or data usage (ZPID). Details can be found at the websites of the respective datacenters.

A corresponding traffic light style symbol indicates the availability of data and datasets in the search results.

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What happens if the cooperation is terminated?

In the event of an organization terminating their cooperation agreement, the resolving of the related DOI names can no longer be guaranteed. As such situations are not beneficial to either party a long-term solution with the datacenter should be sought.

The minimum standard should be that the URL to which the DOI name resolves, links to an HTML page with contact info for the providing organization.

If a change is made to another DataCite allocation agency, the extant prefix can be taken along to that new agent for registering new objects. The metadata of objects already registered remains with da|ra and must be maintained in accordance with the SLA concluded with the publication agent.

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3. Technical questions

How does a XML file look like?

Examples for XML files of different resource types can be found at the da|ra website under Technical information.

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How do I find out whether my XML file is valid and will be accepted by the system?

Before you upload XML files in da|ra (metadata upload) or send to da|ra (Web service API), you can validate them against the currently valid da|ra XSD. You can use programs such as oxygen, notepad ++ plugin, etc.

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Where can I find the current da|ra XSD to validate my XML files?

You can find the current XSD for the registration of resources here and for the data reference system here.

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What do I need to keep in mind for the creation and update of XML files?

A variant of the creation of a DOI and the update of a resource is carried out via the field resource identifier. Therefore we kindly ask you to add your own ID and version of your system if possible. This facilitates the mapping of the metadata to your resource.


           <identifier>Own ID</identifier>
           <currentVersion>Own version</currentVersion>

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How can I make an own suggestion for the suffix?

If you do not want an automatically generated DOI, please fill out the field doiProposal.


<doiProposal>Your prefix/Your suffix</doiProposal>

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Where can I find information about the use of the API?

The API is described in this document and can also be downloaded on the website at Technical information.

Please note: the documentation of the API is at the moment only available for the registration of resources and will follow soon for the data reference system.

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What do I have to consider when using the API?

To change or update the metadata you need the primary keys ID and version. Therefore, please do not leave the field ressourceIdentifier with the subfields identifier and currentVersion empty.


             <identifier>Own ID</identifier>
             <currentVersion>Own version</currentVersion>

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Are there any differences between registration and update of the metadata when using the API?

For the registration of a resource the parameters registration=true needs to be set. These parameters can be omitted for an update without registration.

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What needs to be kept in mind while specifying the landing page?

If you want to register with a different or new domain address than in the past, please inform the da|ra technical support team (Dimitar Dimitrov + 49 (0221) 47694-512 dimitar.dimitrov(at)gesis.org or Erdal Baran + 49 (0221) 47694-511 erdal.baran(at)gesis.org). Only landing pages are accepted by the system, whose domain address was deposited by our technicians in advance (e. g. based on the specifications in the Service Level Agreement).

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How do I get access to the test system of da|ra?

For a test account please contact our contact persons. For technical inquiries to the test system contact the da|ra technical support team (Dimitar Dimitrov + 49 (0221) 47694-512 dimitar.dimitrov(at)gesis.org or Erdal Baran + 49 (0221) 47694-511 erdal.baran(at)gesis.org).

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What needs to be kept in mind while using the test system?

In the test system a registration is only possible with the test prefix (10.5072/…). An own suffix can however be chosen and entered into the XML file with doiProposal or via the web form under DOI proposal.


<doiProposal>10.5072/Own suffix</doiProposal>

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How can I specify my own domain address in the test system?

For a test registration the URL www.gesis.org can for example be used. For the use of the own domain address we kindly ask you to contact the da|ra technical support team (Dimitar Dimitrov + 49 (0221) 47694-512 dimitar.dimitrov(at)gesis.org or Erdal Baran + 49 (0221) 47694-511 erdal.baran(at)gesis.org) to register and deposit the domain address in the system.

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