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OAI Identifiers: Decentralised PIDs for Research Outputs in Repositories

OAI Identifiers: Decentralised PIDs for Research Outputs in Repositories

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An OAI (Open Archives Initiative) identifier is a unique identifier of a metadata record. OAI identifiers are used in the context of repositories using the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH), however, the process by which they are assigned can be, in principle, used more broadly elsewhere.

In comparison to DOIs, OAI identifiers are registered in a distributed rather than centralised manner and there is therefore no cost for minting them. OAI identifiers are persistent identifiers in repositories that declare their level of support for deleted documents in the deletedRecord element of the Identify response as persistent. CORE recommends repositories to provide this persistent level of support.

OAI Identifiers are viable PIDs for repositories that can be, as opposed to DOIs, minted in a distributed fashion and cost-free, and which can be resolvable directly to the repository rather than to the publisher.

This approach has the potential to increase the importance of repositories in the process of disseminating knowledge. CORE provides a global OAI Resolver built on top of the CORE research outputs aggregation system.

An OAI (Open Archives Initiative) identifier is a unique identifier of a metadata record. OAI identifiers are used in the context of repositories using the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH), however, the process by which they are assigned can be, in principle, used more broadly elsewhere.

In comparison to DOIs, OAI identifiers are registered in a distributed rather than centralised manner and there is therefore no cost for minting them. OAI identifiers are persistent identifiers in repositories that declare their level of support for deleted documents in the deletedRecord element of the Identify response as persistent. CORE recommends repositories to provide this persistent level of support.

OAI Identifiers are viable PIDs for repositories that can be, as opposed to DOIs, minted in a distributed fashion and cost-free, and which can be resolvable directly to the repository rather than to the publisher.

This approach has the potential to increase the importance of repositories in the process of disseminating knowledge. CORE provides a global OAI Resolver built on top of the CORE research outputs aggregation system.

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OAI Identifiers: Decentralised PIDs for Research Outputs in Repositories

  1. 1. OAI Identifiers: Decentralised PIDs for Research Outputs in Repositories Petr Knoth, Valerii Budko, Viktoriia Pavlenko, Matteo Cancellieri CORE, Knowledge Media institute, The Open University Open Repositories 2022, Denver, USA Acknowledgements: Herbert van de Sompel, Martin Klein
  2. 2. Outline 1. Need for globally unique Persistent Identifiers (PIDs) identifying scholarly entities. 2. The problem: Why are DOIs not sufficient as PIDs for repository-based research outputs 3. OAIs as distributed and free to mint PIDs for repositories 4. Introduce the new OAI resolver 5. The benefits of linking DOIs with OAIs
  3. 3. Scholarly PIDs • Strong push for Persistent Identifiers (PIDs) to identify different entities in the scholarly knowledge graph • Examples: • DOIs to identify VoRs • ORCID to identify authors • Ringgold IDs to identify organisations • …
  4. 4. Drivers for PIDs adoption in repositories • Open Access Policies: Plan S, REF2021 OA Policy, UKRI OA Policy … • Policies typically ask for: “all repository outputs to have PIDs” • Deposits of papers into repositories (multiple authors can / should deposit) • Repositories often mint DOIs in response to this requirement => duplicities • Analytics, bibliometrics, scholarly knowledge graph
  5. 5. Important background about DOIs (1/2): Resolvable its location A DOI name is permanently assigned to an object to provide a resolvable persistent network link to current information about that object, including where the object, or information about it, can be found on the Internet.“ [DOI Handbook] The current practice in scholarly communication is for the DOI to mainly resolve to the VoR on the publisher’s site.
  6. 6. Important background about DOIs (2/2): Uniqueness “Uniqueness (specification by a DOI name of one and only one referent) is enforced by the DOI system. It is desirable that two DOI names should not be assigned to the same thing.” [DOI Handbook]
  7. 7. Illustrative scenarios multi author, multi institution, more than one AAM in more than one repository => more than one PIDs (locale different) Preprint Repo2 AAM Repo1 AAM Repo3 AAM Journal VoR
  8. 8. Illustrative scenarios: same DOI everywhere Preprint Repo2 AAM Repo1 AAM Repo3 AAM Journal VoR DOI 1 DOI 1 DOI 1 DOI 1
  9. 9. Illustrative scenarios: different or missing PIDs Preprint Repo2 AAM Repo1 AAM Repo3 AAM Journal VoR DOI 1 DOI 2 No PID DOI 1
  10. 10. Illustrative scenarios: resource not published yet => DOI not assigned yet Preprint Repo2 AAM Repo1 AAM Repo3 AAM DOI? DOI? DOI?
  11. 11. The problem: use of DOIs in the repositories’ context • DOIs: 1. Typically do not resolve to the output in the repository: Instead, resolve to the VoR on the publisher’s website. 2. While it is a good practice to link the repository output to its VoR via DOI, DOIs do not identify repository outputs. 3. A significant proportion of repository stored outputs do not have a DOI (and that’s OK). 4. The centralised system for registering DOIs is not suitable to the needs of the distributed repositories’ network. Not clear when to assign a new DOI at a repository level, due to different versions of the same output. 5. Role of repositories degraded to driving traffic to publisher websites, as resolving DOIIs takes a user outside of the repositories network.
  12. 12. The solution 1. One DOI to identify a canonical version of a research work (assigned by the publisher). 2. Another PID to identify the object deposited in the repository, unique for every deposited version. 3. An explicit link between these two.
  13. 13. OAI identifier: The missing PID for repository outputs actually already exists …  • Created by the Open Archives Initiative, used as part of OAI-PMH • Already universally adopted across repositories • Decentralised • Persistent: in repositories declaring persistent support for deletedRecords in OAI-PMH • Free to mint
  14. 14. Adoption of OAIs OAI identifiers need more community recognition and awareness!
  15. 15. CORE • Aware of deposits from across the global repositories network and their OAIs • Ideally positioned to deliver an OAI resolver service Over 200 million metadata records Nearly 25 million free to read full texts Over 12,000 data providers in 147 countries
  16. 16. Example OAI identifiers • Example OAIs:
  17. 17. Activating OAI resolver mapping for your repository in CORE
  18. 18. Recommendations for repositories 1. Use OAI identifiers as PIDs for your repository. 2. Beware of the risks of potentially registering duplicate DOIs. Instead, link to DOIs. 3. Register for the CORE Repository Dashboard (free) and make sure you are well a harvested. 4. If you wish OAIs to resolve to your repository, register your mapping in the CORE Repository Dashboard.
  19. 19. Contributions 1. OAI identifiers are cost-free decentralised persistent identifiers for repositories. 2. OAI identifiers deserve more community recognition. 3. Delivered an OAI resolver as an important piece of open infrastructure for OAIs.
  20. 20. Thank you! Q&A

Editor's Notes

  • Persistent identifiers are of a critical component and a precondition for an open research scholarly graph.

    If you are bored by my previous talks then don’t be and give me one more chance as I believe that this talk is rather significant …

    [Introduce myself briefly]
    I am from CORE at the OU



    [Acknowledgements]



  • We then offer a solution that builds on the existing repositories infrastructure created by the Open Archives Initiative4. We present OAI Identifiers as viable PIDs for repositories that can be, as opposed to DOIs, 1) minted in a distributed fashion and cost-free, and which can be resolvable directly to the repository rather than to the publisher. We argue that this is the right approach that has the potential to increase the importance of repositories in the process of disseminating knowledge. We then present the first global OAI Resolver built on top of the CORE research outputs aggregation system.



  • Those who create these policies have often very little technical understanding.

  • Although permissible for a DOI to resolve to one or multiple objects, the current practice in scholarly communication is for the DOI to mainly resolve to the VoR on the publisher’s site but not to other versions of the object that can exist anywhere within the repositories network
  • Policy makers are unaware of the existence of OAI identifiers

    DOI resolver has been a particularly successful tool in driving up the adoption of DOIs
  • CORE can resolve any OAI identifier to a metadata page of the record in CORE, the routing to the repository page requires slightly more information. This is because the mapping between the OAI prefix of a repository and the currently used URL for the repository metadata record display page/splash page is not consistent across repository systems.

    We have solved this problem as follows. CORE allows any repository data provider to register for a CORE Repository Dashboard account. Within the CORE Repository Dashboard, repository managers can decide if they want their OAIs to be resolved to the repository and if so, they define a mapping between the repository prefix and its URL for the display pages.

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