Digital object identifier (DOI) FAQ

Services > Digital object identifiers > DOI FAQ

Answers for Issue Lab account holders

Titles in your dashboard that:

  • do not already have a DOI assigned, and
  • are eligible for a DOI

can be issued a DOI through our system.

When you click the “Activate DOI” link, our system will connect to the DOI system to check that there isn’t already a DOI issued for the title in question. In the DOI system this is called a “conflict check”. The conflict check looks for a record in the DOI system that matches the title, publication date, publisher(s), and author name(s) supplied. If a title exists in the DOI system with the same details as the ones being checked then there is a conflict. In this case, you will be notified of the conflict in your Issue Lab dashboard and a DOI will not be issued. If there isn’t a conflict, your DOI will be issued immediately.

Your DOI will be usable within an hour of activating it — the timing depends on how busy the DOI system is at the time of your request.

Important: Once you activate a DOI for a title that DOI is permanently assigned to that title. This cannot be undone.

We keep a record of who requested a DOI by saving the requester’s user account info along with the DOI request date in our database.

As you navigate your account dashboard, you might see references to DOIs that are available to be assigned to your titles. For example, while your content is “Pending Approval”, you may see a notice such as:

Once approved, if DOI eligibility requirements are met, the DOI available to activate for this resource will be: DOI: 10.15868/socialsector.XXXXX

The DOI referenced for this title (shown here as “10.15868/socialsector.XXXXX”) will be the DOI that is ultimately assigned to this title when all criteria for DOI activation are met and you activate the DOI.

You can use the referenced DOI with confidence that it will remain the same after activation. Example usage: you are creating a publication that, when finalized, will be released as a PDF and you would like to include a DOI on the title page of the PDF. You can include the referenced DOI for this title and be confidence that it will not change later.

However, it is important to understand that the referenced DOI can only be activated once all DOI eligibility requirements are met. Please see “What content is eligible for a DOI?” (below) to understand our DOI eligibility requirements.

Titles that are eligible to receive a DOI through our system are ones that:

  • have met our collection criteria (please see our Collection Policy Inclusion Criteria);
  • have been approved for sharing through our public site at;
  • have a downloadable file stored on our server attached to them; and
  • are tagged with at least one of the following document types:
  • CaseStudy
  • Conference Report
  • Evaluation
  • FactSheet
  • Infographic/StillImage
  • Issue/Policy Brief
  • Literature/Research Review
  • Report/Whitepaper
  • Toolkit

When these eligibility requirements are met, our system allows you to activate a DOI for a particular title.

All resources added to Issue Lab are manually reviewed by staff to ensure that they meet our inclusion criteria, they are free of typographical and grammatical errors, that metadata applied is accurate, and that uploaded files are not corrupted and work as expected. Submitted resources are held in a pending-approval state; they are put through our approval process typically within 2-3 business days.

Please see our Collection policy for complete details about this process and our inclusion criteria.

Yes. Access our DOI stats tool and you can retrieve statistics by DOI or title. You can also retrieve a list of all DOIs owned by a publishing organization.


Overview/General Questions

A DOI, or digital object identifier, is a permanent, unique identifier that provides a persistent and singular link to an object (in Issue Lab’s case, a link to a digital document file).

Essentially, a DOI is a permanent identifier that acts as a tracking device when attached to physical and digital objects — documents, web pages, videos, other online resources. It provides a persistent link to details about, and access to, the object itself.

A DOI can only be assigned to one object, and an object can only have one DOI. DOIs do not expire; once assigned a DOI remains in the DOI system in perpetuity.

DOIs are maintained by the International DOI Foundation, and are issued by official registration agencies. You can think of Candid as a sub-issuer of DOIs. Candid is a member of Crossref which is a registration agency or intermediary between Candid and the International DOI Foundation. Our relationship with Crossref enables us to obtain and maintain DOIs for social sector publishers.

Getting a DOI from Candid starts with a free Issue Lab user account. Create one here!

Once you’ve logged into your account, simply add the content that you would like to share through Issue Lab.

Your content will undergo an approval process that usually takes 2-3 business days to complete.

If your content meets our DOI eligibility requirements, the next time you log into your account you’ll see a link labeled “Activate DOI” next to the title you’ve added. Click that link and you’ll have a DOI available to use almost instantly.

A DOI attached to your published work ensures that your work is always discoverable online and in new ways, and that you can better understand how many times it is accessed over time.

One of the biggest benefits of a DOI is that it acts as a permanent and singular link to an object. In this capacity the DOI can provide comprehensive, consolidated link click-tracking which, in turn, let’s us understand how many times an object has been requested online no matter where a click on a DOI link occurs.

There are over one hundred million DOIs in existence. Academia is one of the largest users of the DOI system — it is next to impossible to find a published article in a peer-reviewed journal that doesn’t have a DOI. Why? In addition to link click-tracking (an important metric on its own), DOIs enable activities such as citation tracking which can provide information about how many times an article has been cited and by whom — this is obviously an important metric to academics, academic institutions, and the journals that publish academic work.

Lastly, DOIs can expand your audience. DOIs are issued by registration agencies which typically have a network of content providers (libraries, aggregators, clearinghouses, etc.) that use DOIs and their associated metadata in info-delivery tools and services. Your DOI-carrying publications automatically become part of this larger data share, increasing exposure of your findings and analysis.

DOIs supplied by Candid look like this: 10.15868/socialsector.XXXXX

A DOI is a unique alpha-numeric string of characters. We have some control over the structure of the DOIs that we issue on behalf of social sector organizations and have created a DOI that reflects the content to which the DOI is assigned.

The first portion of this alpha-numeric string — 10.15868 — is not something we can change. Everything following the forward-slash (/) is under our control. We chose to use “socialsector” because it helps to identify what the resource in question is a social sector knowledge asset. The numbers after the dot (.) reflect the unique ID of the resource in Candid’s system.

We are investigating how this new DOI number might be used to make search engines, spiders, and bots aware that they are handling social sector content which could benefit the sector when end users are searching for particular kinds of content through larger search engines such as Google or Yahoo. This is all in the exploratory phase. We’ll keep you posted!

DOIs are easy to use. Once you’ve received one, simply use the DOI link in place of the hyperlink you would typically use to provide people access to your downloadable content.

Once your DOI is available, instead of this:

“Download our latest report at”

…do this:

“Download our latest report at″

…or even easier – use a shortDOI:

“Download our latest report at”

We’ll provide you with all of the versions of your DOI that you will need for online and print use.

Important: make sure that those who share a link to your resource use the DOI link. Only by using this unique DOI link can you benefit from the consolidated link tracking that the DOI system provides.

Along with issuing a DOI, it’s our job to maintain the record associated with a DOI including access to the full-text of a requested publication. Since we are not only a sharing platform but also an archiving service, we are well positioned to fulfill the promise of full-text accessibility.

In order to guarantee that a click on a DOI link will get people to the full-text resource they seek, we only issue DOIs for resources that have an actual file uploaded and saved to Issue Lab’s web server. Therefore, when someone clicks on one of our DOI links, she will receive Candid’s copy of the downloadable file.

For account holders who activate DOIs on a title by title basis within their dashboard, a DOI costs you nothing.

If you have partnered with us to do a larger import project, we charge a small fee for DOIs that we will secure on your behalf. Complete details about this fee are available from your project manager.

Candid has embarked on the DOI initiative because, as the primary archive, distribution channel, and cheerleader for social sector knowledge, we see this initiative as an inherent responsibility. We believe the small string of alpha-numeric characters that make up a DOI will have a big impact on the social sector’s ability to track usage of its findings and analysis.

We are happy to incur the cost of DOIs — everything from the small fee to purchase individual DOIs to Crossref membership annual fee to developing and maintaining the systems and tools that interact with the DOI system — because every single DOI issued is one more social sector knowledge product saved in perpetuity.

Yes and no.

When we generate a DOI through Crossref, the DOI is allocated to our Crossref account and we are understood as the stewards of that DOI. Crossref does allow us to transfer a DOI to another entitity, and that process enables us to transfer a DOI to you. But there are caveats.

First, a DOI can only be assigned to one object, and an object can only have one DOI. DOIs do not expire; once assigned a DOI remains in the DOI system in perpetuity. So, let’s say your DOI is “10.15868/socialsector.12345”. For as long as there’s a DOI system, this DOI will exist and it will be attached to the document it was originally generated to identify.

Second, you must be a dues-paying member of a DOI registration agency, such as Crossref, to be able to generate, maintain, or take over an existing DOI. Once you become a member of a registration agency, we can work together to transfer the DOI from our account to yours.

To note: the actual DOI — 10.15868/socialsector.12345 — will not change even after it has transfered into your account. But you will be able to maintain the metadata and document file associated with this DOI. Candid would not be able to modify the DOI post-transfer.

Complete information about transfering a DOI is available on Crossref’s site.

You can continue to link to the archived full-text file that we have stored in our system. Doing so guarantees that at least one of the links the DOI system has on file for your publication will lead to the downloadable file. Our file archiving service remains available to you as does our continued sharing of your publication with our network of users and data partners.

You can think of Candid’s DOI service as your organization’s doorway to DOIs.

For social sector organizations, there are three entities involved in obtaining and maintaining DOIs — Candid is one.

Your organization works with Candid to request social sector DOIs for your organization’s published works.

Candid works with Crossref, an official DOI registration agency, to secure and maintain DOIs on behalf of your organization.

Crossref interfaces with the International DOI Foundation to secure DOIs, and Candid works with Crossref to maintain DOI-related metadata (eg, title and publication date).

Finally, the International DOI Foundation stores all of the DOIs in existence and provides DOI resolution services (ie., redirects a click on a DOI link to the full-text document being sought).

We are the easiest way that a social sector organization can obtain a DOI for a self-published work. Together with Crossref, we are the bridge between your organization and the DOI system.

The path to a DOI typically looks like this: an entity becomes a member of a DOI registration agency (RA). That membership allows the entity to request a DOI through the RA. The RA receives the DOI request and ensures that the DOI will be unique (ie., checks that the DOI doesn’t already exist). The RA obtains the DOI on behalf of the requesting entity, or communicates with the requesting entity when it isn’t possible to complete the DOI transaction. The “entity” in this scenario has traditionally been a journal – academic, scientific – that publishes peer-reviewed articles. Journals make up the vast majority of DOI requests.The social sector typically self-publishes its knowledge — there is no journal system in place to track and maintain our published works. Candid has become a member of Crossref, an official registration agency in order to generate and maintain DOIs on behalf of the social sector. We chose to work with Crossref because, in addition to issuing DOIs, Crossref maintains a network of content providers — more than 4,500 publishers, abstract and indexing (A&I) databases, aggregators, and libraries — that distribute information and provide access to the objects in Crossref’s system. Obtaining a DOI through Candid’s Issue Lab service automatically puts your publication in front of these content providers and their varied users.

We see DOIs as one proven way to understand the impact of the findings and analysis of the social sector. That understanding can help everyone involved with philanthropy and social issues to do their work better. And helping philanthropy succeed is at the core of our mission.

The knowledge produced by the social sector is an outcome of philanthropy and, as such, Candid is interested in understanding the impact of that knowledge. We are committed to ensuring that the knowledge generated by the social sector is a known quantity — easy to discover, easy to access, and easy to share and use.

Now, through our DOI initiative, we can access real data about how often these products are accessed. The DOI is one of the only ways that we know of that let’s us get closer to a true measure of impact — how many times a publication is requested across the Web regardless of where a link was clicked.

In the future we will experiment with other metrics available through DOIs such as citation tracking.

Crossref is a nonprofit organization and an official digital object identifier (DOI) Registration Agency of the International DOI Foundation. It is run by the Publishers International Linking Association, Inc.

Candid is a member of Crossref and so we can generate and maintain DOIs on behalf of the social sector through Crossref.

We chose to work with Crossref because, in addition to issuing DOIs, Crossref maintains a network of content providers — more than 4,500 publishers, abstract and indexing (A&I) databases, aggregators, and libraries — that distribute information and provide access to the objects in Crossref’s system. Obtaining a DOI through Candid automatically puts your publication in front of these content providers and their varied users.