We want your feedback on whether government should add Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to the data and documents it publishes. You can give feedback directly on our Open Standards GitHub page until the end of December 2020. We will use your feedback to decide whether to develop a formal proposal to take before the Open Standards Board for consideration.
The DOI standard creates a persistent identifier for each document and dataset that we publish. We would assign a unique identifier to every publication, and maintain a metadata record. The metadata would contain the most recent URl (web address) of the publication, details about the author, publication date, and other information necessary for an academic to cite the work.
Questions we are asking ourselves - and you
The UK Government publishes a lot of data and documents. But how do we know that they are being used by academic institutions? We don't add tracking to them, and most datasets don't require users to register before downloading.
While GOV.UK endeavours to keep website addresses working, we can't always guarantee that's the case. Some content gets removed or withdrawn, and is usually backed up to The National Archives. And sometimes, things just break.
Academics who work with government want to be able to put their names to data that they helped create. And we want to give credit to the brilliant people who help us write our publications.
Using DOI would bring us into line with academic practice around the world. We would be able to do citation searches to see where our datasets have impact. Researchers would benefit from enhanced metadata and a persistent identifier.
Things to consider
As part of our consultation, we need to understand the cost of running such a system. This includes not just the money required to run and maintain the infrastructure, but any cost associated with a potential delay in publishing, even if it’s not immediately financial.
We will need to decide on an organisational structure if we adopt DOI. Should we have a single prefix for the whole of government? Or should each department have their own prefix and their own infrastructure? What makes the most sense for users?
We also need to understand whether DOI meets our criteria for an open standard. Does it have an open organisational structure? Will the specification be published openly? Is it in widespread use outside of government?
Finally, we need to understand the impact adopting DOIs would have on users who don't understand about them. Will this introduce confusion or any other unintended consequences?
If you or your organisation have any thoughts on this work, you can give feedback directly on our Open Standards GitHub page up until 31st December 2020.