Category Archives: crossref

Digital Object Identifier – What is that?

This forum is part of the MISTA conference series web site.

There are a few principles that underpin the scientific literature. One is the fact that publications have undergone some sort of peer review. That is, experts in the area have reviewed the paper and have agreed that it advances knowledge, makes a contribution, the results are reproducible and that what is being reported in the paper is correct. Of course, mistakes happen but it is the system that has operated for hundreds of years.

Another important aspect is that anybody should be able to access a given publication. Whether it is the seminal Vehicle Routing paper from 1959 (Dantzig, G.B; Ramser, J.H. (1959). The Truck Dispatching Problem. Management Science 6 (1): 80–91), or a paper from the latest issue of the the Journal of Scheduling (at the time of writing this was Volume 15, Issue 5, 2012).

A further principle is that when you read a paper you have to be certain that you are reading the same paper that was originally penned by the author, and not a version that has been amended in any way. This means that there should really just be a single repository, rather than allowing people to hold their own copies, which cannot be verified as being the same as the original. This is almost impossible to do these days.

Before the days of the internet, it may not have been that easy to get access to a specific publication, but if you really wanted a paper you could go to a library and access the relevant journal. So, although it may not have been that easy to physically access the material, it was still in the scientific literature if you needed it, and available from somewhere. As journals (and conference proceedings; but let’s focus on journals) were all printed as hard-copy it was easy to verify that you were looking at the original by making sure you had access to the original publication.

The internet has changed all this. Publications can now be stored in multiple places which can make it difficult to verify that you are reading the same version of the paper that another author has cited.

Enter DOIs (Digital Object Identifier), which are managed by Crossref. To quote from their web site:

CrossRef is an independent membership association, founded and directed by publishers. CrossRef’s mandate is to connect users to primary research content, by enabling publishers to work collectively. CrossRef is also the official DOI® link registration agency for scholarly and professional publications. Our citation-linking network today covers tens of millions of articles and other content items from thousands of scholarly and professional publishers.

Crossref enables publishers to register, and then any paper they publish is given a unique identifier (i.e. a DOI). By using the DOI anybody is able to access the primary source of the paper.  If the publisher moves the location of the paper they only need to access their Crossref membership pages and change the URL. This means that anybody using the DOI will automatically be referred to the new (correct) place.

If you know the DOI of a paper, you can access it by using “” and then adding the DOI. For example, trying looking at This will take you to one of the papers from the latest issue of the Journal of Scheduling.

DOIs have become very common in recent years. Most (if not all) of the major publishers now use DOIs to identify their articles.

The MISTA conference series is currently looking considering registering with Crossref. Now that we have published over 500 papers, and we have a new, stable, web site, with all papers being freely accessible, it seems like a good time to enter the 21st century! We’ll let you know if/when we have registered.

Finally, if you are interested in accessing the original Vehicle Routing paper, its do is 10.1287/mnsc.6.1.80, which means that you can directly access the paper via the link