Crossref, e.g., charges thousands of dollars to assign DOIs, but are there any free DOI registration services? In other words: Is there a free service that will generate DOIs for me?

  • To clarify the question, are you asking if there is a service that will give you a DOI for free, for a third-party URL, or if there is a a way to become a DOI issuing body for free? The answer is probably no in each case, but for different reasons. Dec 14, 2016 at 18:30
  • 1
    @Andrew I'm asking "if there is a service that will give you a DOI for free".
    – Geremia
    Dec 14, 2016 at 18:56
  • Aha - in that case my answer was going to be a version of academia.stackexchange.com/questions/69521/… (which effectively asked the broader question of 'can I do it at all'), but I see @RM beat me to it... Dec 14, 2016 at 19:32
  • I think it is even worse: If the institution does not pay the fee for the doi in 20 years, their database entries are lost. Hence I am highly interested in an independent alternative for doi. Jun 3, 2017 at 10:16
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    Where did you get information from? DOIs are persistent, they're not just randomly deleted. doi.org/doi_handbook/6_Policies.html#6.5
    – Joe
    Aug 4, 2017 at 12:31

3 Answers 3


As the official DOI FAQ mentions, you need to go through a recognized registration agency to get a DOI:

  1. How do I get a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for my material?

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.

Now, you don't necessarily need to go directly through one of the listed Registration Agencies (of which Crossref is one). Often the Registration Agencies have arrangements with other agencies to assign DOIs. (e.g. arrangements Crossref makes with publishers) If you go through those sub-agencies you can also get DOIs, though they may come with limitations.

Depending on your affiliations, there may already be a sub-agency arrangement in place. For example, the Harvard, CERN, and the British Library have arrangements in place with DataCite for providing DOIs to their materials, and there appear to be facilities in place by their national research councils for allowing DOI assigments to datasets from a number of countries.

There are a couple of places which have an "open" policy on submitting and assigning DOIs to material, regardless of affiliation. The ones I know of are Zenodo, Figshare and Dataverse. -- These are mostly based around datasets and Supporting-Material-type information (though not necessarily attached to any publication), so if you attempt to use them for other purposes you may fall afoul of their Terms of Service. They're also limited to assigning DOIs for material that is uploaded to their servers (so no DOIs for third-party websites).

If you're looking to attach a DOI to a biology-related publication, bioArXiv assigns DOIs to submitted pre-prints (though the math/physics arXiv does not, and there are some reasons for that. - Though keep in mind that pre-publication release of articles (at least in the Biology field) may limit where you can publish.

If those options don't work for you (say you're starting a new journal and wish to assign DOIs to publications hosted on your own website), then you probably don't have much choice other than to go through one of the DOI Registration Agencies. Note that there's several of them, not just CrossRef, so it may pay to talk to others to see if you can come to an arrangement that's more suitable.

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    Zenodo is not just for datasets; preprints are explicitly welcomed. Jul 1, 2020 at 19:46

Yes, you can use Reseachgate to order free DOIs for non-published data.

https://www.researchgate.net/post/Generate_DOI https://www.researchgate.net/post/How_to_get_DOI_for_papers https://www.researchgate.net/post/How_to_get_DOI_for_papers

I always use this service.


Yes — IF:

  • you are interested in a DOI for a document (e.g. scholarly article, course syllabus), and
  • you have the rights/permissions to upload a file of that document (pdf, whatever) to a 3rd party website, and
  • the academic area of this document falls within the Humanities,

THEN, you could consider using the CORE Repository facility of HCommons. Among the benefits described for using this service, they include:

Citation and attribution: All items uploaded to CORE get a DOI, or digital object identifier, that serves as a permalink, citation source, and assertion of authorship all in one.

There is no cost to the end-user associated with participating in HCommons in this way.

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