A DOI is a commonly used digital object identifier to refer to an electronic document. How do I secure a DOI for a research dataset, to help share and identify it?

6 Answers 6


There are a number of ways in which a DOI could be linked to a dataset:

  • Figshare will provide a DOI for any deposited work, which includes data.
  • Zenodo also provides DOIs for any kind of research output, including datasets
  • Dryad provides DOIs for data submissions linked to papers (for a fee, which includes storage, curation, archival, & checks for best-practice [HT @DaisieHuang for pointing out my lazy description of fee previously])

You might also look to see if a domain-specific repository provides a DOI for data. The journal Scientific Data maintains a good list of repositories you can look at.

Choosing a DOI provider will depend on particular circumstances. Both Figshare and Zenodo are both free to use services for example whereas Dryad charges for the service they offer to cover ongoing storage and archival costs.

Some points of comparison between Figshare, Dryad, and Zenodo, etc

Dryad accepts data relating to publications; if it isn't associated with a paper then they won't accept it. Figshare and Zenodo will accept any research output, whether linked to publication or not. In that sense Figshare and Zenodo are more broadly applicable to any research outputs.

Data may be more discoverable in Dryad or domain-specific repositories (DSRs) than in general purpose ones likes Figshare & Zenodo. Data is likely to be formatted in standard ways and more easily searched by online or other tools if they are archived in Dryad or DSRs. This is likely to encourage reuse.

Figshare is a for-profit commercial entity, Zenodo is run by CERN and was supported by the EU OpenAIRE project at one point, whilst Dryad is an not-for-profit entity supported by research grants and membership fees for organisations.

  • 3
    wow, our answers were so similar, crazy :)- i swear I didn't copy you
    – sckott
    Aug 4, 2015 at 18:46
  • @ScottChamberlain I would be impressed if you had copied off of him, as you answered before he did!
    – HDE 226868
    Aug 4, 2015 at 18:49
  • 1
    @HDE226868 I'm quick but not 9 seconds quick ;-) Aug 4, 2015 at 18:51
  • @ScottChamberlain If we carry on like this, we might get banned for as a suspected dual account :-) Aug 4, 2015 at 19:00
  • 2
    To clarify: part of the Dryad fee is for curation; Dryad manually curates your datasets and does some checking for best practices.
    – Daisie Huang
    Aug 6, 2015 at 19:05

There area number of routes. They do cost money to create, so you want to get it via one of many providers:

  • Figshare gives DOIs to items you put in your account with them - this is the most DIY route
  • Zenodo gives DOIs to objects
  • Many data repositories assign DOIs, e.g., Dryad

This is a common question on the DOI FAQ:

You must use a service offered by a DOI Registration Agency (RA). RAs collect metadata, assign DOI names, and offer other services such as reference linking or metadata lookup. See the list of RAs, and contact the ones whose services best meet your needs. If you do not see an appropriate application listed, consider approaching an existing RA or developing a community to build the service you require (see the DOI Handbook, 8 Registration Agencies, for more information). You do not need to be a member of the International DOI Foundation in order to work with an RA.

This system is valid for data, as it can be applied to "any entity".

Lists are available:

  • Ariti, Inc.
  • CrossRef
  • China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI)
  • DataCite
  • EIDR (Entertainment Identifier Registry)
  • ISTIC (The Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China)
  • JaLC (Japan Link Center) mEDRA (Multilingual European DOI Registration
  • mEDRA (Multilingual European DOI Registration Agency)
  • OP (Publications Office of the European Union)

It is possible that your institution will provide a data repository for research conducted there. Some of them will also assign DOIs, but this is specific for the institution. If there is no DOI, usually there will be some other sort of permanent link you can use.


In some circumstances, ResearchGate gives you a DOI. Nevertheless, you can also try arXiv, while it could be a great solution for your issue. Following an early post, it can be useful to you also, by giving you a possible strategy.


You can find repositories that assign DOIs to datasets in the Repository Finder Tool.

You can filters those that actually meet the criteria of the Enabling FAIR Data.

edit: Full disclosure, I work at DataCite as a developer.

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