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Digital Object Identifiers

Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are globally unique character strings that reference physical, digital, or abstract objects. They provide actionable, interoperable, persistent links to information about the objects they reference.

USGS Use of DOIs 

Infographic describing how digital object identifiers work
DOIs for USGS Data and Software

Two official DOI registration organizations used by the USGS and sanctioned by the Digital Object Identifier Consortium are CrossRef and DataCite.

A DOI name takes the form of a character string divided into two parts, a prefix and a suffix, separated by a slash. The prefix for USGS scholarly series publications is 10.3133. The prefix for USGS data is 10.5066. When a DOI begins with 10.3133, it references a USGS scholarly series publication, and when it begins with 10.5066, it references USGS data, code, or software.

Here's what a DOI looks like:

  • doi: 10.3133/pp1814A

Here's how it becomes an actionable link:


DOIs for USGS Publications 

Digital Object Identifiers for USGS series publications will be obtained for you when they are released through the USGS publication process specified in the Fundamental Science Practices. These Digital Object Identifiers will originate from the CrossRef system. This DOI assignment is part of the standard USGS publications process.

Example USGS Publication (DOI automatically obtained through CrossRef):

Engott, J.A., Johnson, A.G., Bassiouni, Maoya, and Izuka, S.K., 2015, Spatially distributed groundwater recharge for 2010 land cover estimated using a water-budget model for the Island of O`ahu, Hawai`i: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5010, 49 p.,

Diffendorfer, J.E., Compton, Roger, Kramer, Louisa, Ancona, Zach, and Norton, Donna, 2014, Onshore industrial wind turbine locations for the United States through July 2013: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 817,


DOIs for USGS Data 

All data released through USGS on servers owned by, or managed under contract to, the Bureau must be assigned a DOI generated by the USGS Asset Identifier Service (AIS); DOIs created using this tool are registered to

USGS data that are published on Federal servers managed by other agencies may be assigned a DOI managed by the hosting agency, if required as a condition for publishing the data; otherwise, a USGS DOI should be assigned to these data using the USGS DOI Creation Tool. The Data Management Plan should specify where the final data will be published; if another Federal agency will publish the USGS data, the Plan should also stipulate which agency will assign and manage the DOI during the anticipated lifecycle of the data. USGS scientists are encouraged to consult their Bureau Approving Official for questions or further guidance.

Regardless of the assigning agency, the DOI for the data must be referenced in the final metadata record as the link to the data.

  • Convert the DOI to an actionable link. The DOI 10.5066/F7VX0DMQ can be made into an actionable link by appending immediately before the 10.5066. The actionable DOI hyperlink is therefore
  • For FGDC CSDGM metadata, the data DOI link should be placed in the Online Linkage (XML tag "onlink") in the Citation Information section, and/or in the Network Resource Name (XML tag "networkr") in the Distribution Information section.
  • For ISO 19115-x metadata, the data DOI link should be placed in the MD_Metadata section, in the tag "gmd:dataSetURI".

Data associated with the scholarly publication (DOI obtained by data owner through DataCite):

Moschetti, M.P., 2017, Database of earthquake ground motions from 3-D simulations on the Salt Lake City of the Wasatch fault zone, Utah: U.S. Geological Survey data release,

McLeod, J.M., Jelks, Howard, Pursifull, Sandra, and Johnson, N.A., 2016, Characterizing the early life history of an imperiled freshwater mussel (Ptychobranchus jonesi): U.S. Geological Survey data release,

Barber, L.B., Weber, A.K., LeBlanc, D.R., Hull, R.B., Sunderland, E.M., and Vecitis, C.D., 2017, Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances in contaminated groundwater, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 2014-2015 (ver. 1.1, March 24, 2017): U.S. Geological Survey data release,

For USGS data residing on non-USGS Federal servers, please consult your Bureau Approving Official for guidance.


DOIs for External Publications 

Most peer-reviewed journals will assign the DOI to articles using their own DOI prefix and registration process.

Example outside journal publication (No action needed to create a DOI):

Estimates of Natural Salinity and Hydrology in a Subtropical Estuarine Ecosystem: Implications for Greater Everglades Restoration Frank E. Marshall, G. Lynn Wingard, Patrick A. Pitts.


Best Practices 

  • Ensure a persistent identifier is assigned to published scholarly articles
    • Some publishers may already require this and will do it for you.
    • USGS publications are assigned Digital Object Identifiers as part of the library cataloging process.
  • When assigning a Digital Object Identifier for data:
    • Assign a Digital Object Identifier for each version of your data if you want to track changes to the data.
    • Include the Digital Object Identifier in your metadata record that describes your data [see Describe > Metadata for more information]
    • Include the Digital Object Identifier in the citation of the data. [see Publish/Share > Data Citation for more information]
  • Placement of the DOI for the data in a CSDGM metadata record
    • The DOI should go in the primary <onlink> in the Citation Information section.
    • Make sure that the format of the DOI is a URL, (not of the format doi:10.5066/ABCD123). Your DOI should be entered in the format If your DOI is not entered as a URL, your metadata record will be rejected by catalogs such as the USGS Science Data Catalog and
  • Placement of the DOI for the related publication in a CSDGM record
    • The related publication is usually cited as a Larger Work Citation in the metadata. The Larger Work Citation has its own <onlink> field, and this is the correct location for the publication's DOI.
    • Make sure that the format of the DOI is a URL, (not of the format doi:10.3133/ABCD123). Your DOI should be entered in the format If your DOI is not entered as a URL, your metadata record will be rejected by catalogs such as the USGS Science Data Catalog and
  • A DOI's value as a persistent identifier is lost entirely if a DOI is not updated when the object it references changes physical location (i.e., the URL changes in some way)
    • If your data product's physical URL changes in any way, it is critical that you update your DOI to point to the new path for the file. The DOI in your citation will not resolve, and will result in 'file not found' errors for users, if you do not maintain the physical link to your data product in the DOI record.
    • USGS scientists and data managers can update their DOIs at any time in the USGS DOI Creation Tool to correct a broken link or change any other information about their data product. Updates made in the tool are submitted daily to the DataCite index. The DataCite index converts the DOIs into resolvable online links for the Web.
    • The USGS DOI Creation Tool allows staff to designate co-owners and backups of individual DOI records, so that trusted colleagues can assist originators of DOI records in maintaining the integrity of DOIs over time. It is strongly recommended that at least one co-owner or backup be assigned to any DOI.




What the U.S. Geological Survey Manual Requires 

The USGS Survey Manual chapter SM 502.8 Fundamental Science Practices: Review and Approval of Scientific Data for Release requires that data approved for release must be assigned a persistent identifier, specifically a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for scientific data obtained from the USGS registration agent, and be accompanied by a recommended citation.



Page last updated 1/2/24.