in order to apply for a research grant, they ask me to provide a permanent identifier for my publications. I have looked at such publications, but only the ISSN of such publications are provided.

Question 1: is an ISSN a permanent identifier?

Question 2: How can I get a DOI for those publications?

  • Setting the question aside, if you are allowed to post it, if you post a paper at ResearchGate and tell them you don't have a DOI, you'd get one from them. Commented May 19, 2019 at 15:42

3 Answers 3


As others have noted, the difference between ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) and DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is that ISSN identifies a periodical publication (i.e. journal, conference proceedings) as a whole (i.e. it does not change between volumes or issues), while DOI identifies a single published work (i.e. article) from that periodical (more specifically, it also identifies a version of that work).

Most journals provide a DOI for their publications, even if it is not immeadeately obvious. Typically it's somewhere close to the top of the page while browser-viewing the article.

To obtain a DOI from a reference, take a look here. It seems to be an official service from Crossref that will search for a DOI based on a bibliography entry.

So, you just enter text in there (I tested the service by copy-pasting the first 7 bibliography items from the reference list of my latest publication), one reference per line, click "submit" and it will try and find a DOI for each entry. Out of the 7 references I submitted, it succeeded for 6, while the last one was a book and did not have a DOI.

Note that not finding a DOI through the suggested link still does not guarantee that a publication does not have a DOI (but some do not); in that case the next-best options are to check the journal website as well as how other papers cite the work in question.

Finally, it was suggested that posting a preprint of a paper on ResearchGate will allow you to generate a DOI for it. This is true, but with one caveat - as mentioned, the DOI identifies a single instance of an article, and therefore the DOI generated through ResearchGate will be linked specifically to a preprint (or "author's version"), and not the version of the work published by a journal or in conference proceedings.


Regarding Question 1:

ISSN is an identifier of the serial publication, not an article in it.

Regarding Question 2:

Most scientific journals nowadays assign DOI identifiers to articles. If no DOI is assigned, then perhaps you could omit the DOI or explain that the journal did not issue a DOI.

If you absolutely have to provide a DOI, you can upload the article to ResearchGate, where you can generate DOIs for your uploads. However, that is probably not what the grant provider wants in a proposal, and it is probably better not to provide a DOI at all.

From your question, it appears that the permanent identifier does not have to be a DOI. If there is something like a report number assigned to your publication, that might qualify as a permanent identifier.

  • Thanks Jake for your help. This is what is required by the grant provider: "for each publication, either a DOI address or another persistent identifier should be indicated.". This is instead the article I would like to present: oldcitypublishing.com/journals/ijuc-home/ijuc-issue-contents/… (pp. 165-180). Do you see anything I could use as a persistent identifier? Commented May 18, 2019 at 23:51
  • @LucaDanieli I don't see anything on the journal's webpage, but don't have access to the paper itself. Does it say on the PDF file (in particular around the publisher's imprint that should be on the first page)?
    – Allure
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 23:55
  • 1
    It looks like this journal does not issue DOIs. I would suggest contacting the journal directly to see what they suggest as a persistent identifier.
    – Jake
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 0:06
  • @LucaDanieli Searching in Scopus, which indexes that journal, Scopus shows no DOI, only the ISBN of the whole proceedings. You may want to check with the grant provider or your local grant office on what they would prefer in a case where there is no direct link to the specific paper. They might actually be fine with the ISBN/ISSN + page number, but it is ultimately up to them what they accept - they make the rules in this case.
    – BrianH
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 17:20

Try looking at doi.org ... [I believe ISSN identifies only the journal, not the individual paper?]

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