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Persistent Identifiers

Persistent Unique Identifiers (PIDs) are globally unique, persistent, machine-resolvable digital identifiers with an associated metadata schema. PIDs are used to link researchers and research outputs to their underlying data and associated metadata.

For an introduction to PIDs and their use, please see the Becker Medical Library Introduction to PIDs: What They Are and How to Use Them article.

Persistent Identifiers detailed here include (please select the PID to jump to that section):

For more information on the Persistent Identifiers on this page, please see the Persistent Identifiers FAQ or reach out to Scholarly Communication & Digital Publishing Services at

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

A digital object identifier (DOI) is a unique identifier associated with an object, such as an electronic document. This can include journal articles, data and data sets, images, books, and book chapters. The benefit of a DOI is it is a persistent identifier that is available and managed over time; this means it will not change if the item or object is moved or renamed (from EZID). DOIs help alleviate the problem of dead links or link rot.

The WashU Libraries contract with DataCite to create DOIs. The goal of providing DOI assignments to users is to provide a needed service to the University community that enables sharing research products through persistent identifiers.

DOIs can be assigned to eligible works created by WashU users and hosted indefinitely in library-sponsored platforms to adhere to DataCite membership requirements. A user can be an individual or a department/center. If any one user requests a notably significant number of DOIs (as in approaching 1000 or more), the WashU Libraries will work with that user to make other, more sustainable arrangements.

Users may obtain a DOI for the following and more:

  • Images
  • Data & data sets
  • Books
  • Book Chapters
  • Research reports
  • Dissertations and theses

Please note that when a researcher creates or has DOIs created, they are also agreeing to maintain URLs if they change. This requires contacting the Libraries with URL updates.

DOIs are typically issued at the time of an object’s publication. All DOIs begin with a 10 and contain a prefix and a suffix separated by a slash. The prefix is a unique number of four or more digits assigned to organizations; the suffix is assigned by the publisher and identifies the object. DOIs from the WashU Libraries begin with 10.7936.

Please note that DOIs are permanent and cannot be deleted. When a researcher creates or has DOIs created, they also agree to maintain URLs if they change. This requires contacting the Libraries with URL updates.

Please complete the following steps to request a DOI:

  1. Prepare information about the resource. If you are requesting a DOI for a dataset, please review the Washington University Digital Research Data Sharing Guide.

    Otherwise, we need the following information:

    URL | Web address with information about the object

    Creator(s) | Authors of the object (anyone who should appear in the citation); include ORCIDs when available

    Title | Title of project/object

    Publisher | The name of the entity that holds, archives, publishes, prints, distributes, releases, issues, or produces the resource; this property will be used to formulate the citation, so consider the prominence of the role.

    Publication Year | The year when the data was or will be made publicly available.

    Resource Type | Select one from the following: Audiovisual, Collection, DataPaper, Dataset, Event, Image, InteractiveResource, Model, PhysicalObject, Service, Software, Sound, Text, Workflow, Other.

    Description (optional) | All additional information that does not fit in any of the other categories, including an abstract.
  2. Verify that the URL points to an active web page. If the object is embargoed or not yet published (for example, if a publisher needs a DOI before publishing), contact
  3. Submit gathered information to University Library staff may follow up with you to discuss your specific needs. Assigned DOIs are sent by email.

Please note that Washington University in St. Louis can only provide DOIs for faculty, staff, students, and researchers affiliated with the university.

Once all information is received, DOIs can generally be assigned within one business day; however, depending on staffing, there may be delays at times. DOIs are not assigned at night, on weekends, or during university holidays.

Archival Resource Keys (ARK)

An Archival Resource Key (ARK) can also be created as another method of persistent linking. ARKs are recommended for projects requiring more flexibility and early or unpublished versions of material. Unlike a DOI, an ARK can be deleted.

Note that ARKs are not assigned on weekends or during holidays. Please complete the following three steps to request an ARK:

  1. Prepare information about the resource. This is the information we need from you to create a DOI:

    Location / URL | Web page with information about the object

    Creator(s) | Authors of the object (anyone who should appear in the citation)

    Title | Title of project/object

    Publication Year | The year when the data was or will be made publicly available.
  2. Verify that the URL points to an active web page. If the object is embargoed or not yet published, contact
  3. Submit gathered information to University Library staff may follow up with you to discuss your specific needs. Assigned ARKs are sent by email.

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a national and international standard identification number for uniquely identifying books, i.e., publications that are not intended to continue indefinitely (ALA Resource Guide).

An ISBN is a unique 13-digital number (pre-2007, ISBNs were 10 digits). It is intended for monograph-like publications (i.e., books) and not music, performances, images, magazines, academic journals, or other periodicals. An ISBN uniquely identifies your book, and facilitates the sale of your book to bookstores (physical and digital) and libraries.

The ISBN is an ISO standard; find out more at the International ISBN Agency.

The WashU Libraries have an account with Bowker, the official source for ISBNs in the United States.

Generally, individuals do not assign ISBNs to their own work. If you are publishing an eligible book (including digital publications) with the WashU Libraries, the Libraries can assign an ISBN. If you are working with a publisher, please talk to them about an ISBN.

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

The International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is a U.S. standard and an international standard for serial publications (print and digital).

The number consists of eight digits: two groups of four digits separated by a hyphen. In the US, the ISSN is assigned by the US Library of Congress (LOC). Applications for an ISSN can be completed online and submitted by email or fax.

An application for an ISSN can be submitted up to three months before a publication is released. ISSN requests may take six weeks to process once received by the LOC. Online resources are usually not ISSN assigned ahead of publication. For all new publications, five articles are considered as a minimum for making a complete issue.

If a researcher and/or author is publishing a journal with the WashU Libraries, the Libraries can submit an application on your behalf. For more details on ISSNs, please see the International Centre’s International Standard Serial Number Understanding the ISSN: ISSN, The Major Principles page.

Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID)

Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) is an initiative to build an open, non-profit, and community-based registry of unique researcher identifiers used by over 12 million individuals across the globe and 195 organizations in the US. Unique researcher identifiers help fellow researchers, institutions, and funding agencies link an author’s research activities and outputs to them and distinguish individual authors from those of others who have similar names.

With ORCID becoming integrated with an increasing number of assessment tools and application systems (and over 110 publishers), getting your unique identifier through ORCID can, in the future, save you from the frustration of entering the same information over and over again. ORCID is expanding across disciplines and national boundaries, and your ORCID account is tied to you, not to your institutional affiliation, so you can take it with you anywhere. See the ORCID Open Letter – One Year On Report committing to requiring ORCID iDs for grant funding.

An ORCID record is like a CV, but rather than a static document, the data is interoperable with any systems that are ORCID-enabled. Authors have full control over their data. ORCID is free and will never sell ORCID-associated data.

What is ORCID? from ORCID on Vimeo.

Whether you have a common name, a unique name, or have changed names over the course of your life, using your ORCID iD when you publish, apply for grants, or report your activities will help to ensure that you get the credit you deserve for your affiliations and contributions.

As an individual, ORCID allows an author to:

  • Maintain full control over their ORCID record and visibility of their data.
  • Distinguish themselves from others.
  • Ensure that they are accurately linked with their activities, works, and organizations with which they are affiliated.
  • Improve the visibility of their contributions.
  • Save time on repetitive data entry for funding, publishing, and research reporting workflows by sending data directly from ORCID – if the organizations that an author is affiliated with have an ORCID integration, authors can save even more time by connecting an ORCID iD and allowing them to directly add updates to an ORCID record.
  • Keep track of their affiliated organizations in a free, interoperable platform throughout an author’s career, regardless of changes in name, institution, or discipline.
  1. Create an ORCID record. Authors are reminded to please make a note of their password and ID; this can stay with them throughout their career, even after they leave WashU. Authors may link their ORCiD account to WUSTL Connect (while at WashU), Facebook, or Google+.
  2. Populate with appropriate employment, education, funding, and work. Manually added information or linked tools may be helpful for populating works, such as Scopus Author ID, MLA International Bibliography’s MLA BibLink, and CrossRef Metadata search. New publications that have DOIs can automatically be added to ORCiD profiles if CrossRef is granted permission.
  3. Review sharing choices. Each item in each field, including email address(es), has separate options to select whether authors want to share with everyone, selected people, or only themselves. Authors may change choices at any time by signing back into their ORCID account. The choice belongs to the author, but the WashU Libraries request that WashU-related authors include a shared-with-everyone email address on their profile. Your email does not need to be your primary email address.
  4. Optional: Designate a trusted individual to populate and update the ORCID account.
  5. Optional: Grant permission for CrossRef and Data Cite to add information about publications and data as individual DOIs, which include ORCiD, come to CrossRef and DataCite from publishers and other sources.

Persistent Identifiers FAQ

See the following answers to frequently asked questions pertaining to persistent identifiers; if your questions are not listed, please reach out to Scholarly Communication & Digital Publishing Services at

An author or authors are to create a DOI when they want a formal citation associated with an article or item.

Create DOIs when the final form of an article, dataset, or document is available and the next step is creating a consistent way of linking to it. DOIs require information such as URL, Author Name, Title, Title Type, Publisher, and Publication Year.

Contact with the updated URL.

Individual DOIs are only supposed to link to one item. Creating more than one DOI for the same item is a violation of policy and can lead to the WashU Libraries account being suspended. If there are questions about this, please reach out to the apartment via email at

No, use the DOI assigned to the journal article by the publisher. Do not create another DOI for the item.

Yes, an author can create a DOI to provide a persistent link to the supplementary material for an article.

The WashU Libraries is only able to provide this service to users affiliated with Washington University in St. Louis. Check the DataCite Member List for other options.