Where does an article’s DOI come from?

Where does an article's DOI come from?

There is more to an article’s Digital Object Identifier (DOI) than you may think. Every published article has an alphanumeric string assigned to it, which not only makes citation easier but also ensures the article has a persistent link online. The International DOI Foundation maintains the platform. Recently, ACS created its own format based on that platform to strategically collect and organize DOIs for each ACS article.

When an article is accepted for publication in an ACS journal, it is assigned a unique DOI, such as 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.5b00497. Each ACS DOI consists of three parts. The first part is the publisher prefix. ACS has been assigned 10.1021/ as its prefix, so all DOIs from ACS Publications begin with these digits.

The second part is called the Joint Object Identifier (JOI), which points to the ACS journal that published the article. The format for a JOI is less uniform than other parts of this alphanumeric string. For example, the Journal of the American Chemical Society‘s JOI is “jacs”, while the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry‘s is “acs.jmedchem” and ACS Chemical Neuroscience has a JOI of “acschemneuro”.

The third part of the DOI combines the year that the article was submitted with an ID supplied by Paragon Plus, the submission system used for all ACS journals. The year is denoted using the last digit of the year the manuscript is submitted, followed by a lower case letter to indicate the decade. All articles submitted between 2010 and 2019 are assigned b as their letter, so 5b indicates the manuscript was submitted in 2015. Finally, the Paragon Plus manuscript ID suffix is added to the end of the string. Together these elements form a complete ACS journal DOI.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 1.23.59 PM

But the process was not always this straightforward. In 2015, ACS decided to alter its DOI format because the year the article was accepted would have eventually conflicted with future DOIs. The Journal of the American Chemical Society has been publishing articles for so long, that the alphanumeric code of the DOI would eventually have to repeat. Unless something changed, ACS would one day run out of DOIs. The format was also changed to allow ACS to put its branding into the DOI, so that readers could immediately see that the article came from an ACS journal. Here is an example of the previous format: 10.1021/jm5b00497, compared to the current format: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.5b00497.

Now when you see a DOI, you can identify more details about the article itself.

Quiz yourself to test your DOI knowledge!


If you have comments or questions for the author of this post, please e-mail: Axial@acs.org.