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Designing DOI® Applications
This factsheet provides some notes and suggestions on common issues encountered in thinking about how the DOI System can be applied.
The DOI System has the flexibility to meet identification and resolution requirements of any application domain. However, these don't come "in a box": someone needs to build the specific social and technical structures to support the particular requirements of a community, and provide applications which offer value to that community. In designing a DOI System application several questions need to be considered.
What are we identifying with this identifier?
The rules about what is identified, and whether two things being identified are "the same thing", are made at the level of a specific application of the DOI System, and this is a role of Registration Agencies. This deceptively easy question is one of the most difficult encountered in all discussions about identifiers (but the one most commonly overlooked) and an answer is often much more difficult than it might at first appear. The answer to when two things are "the same thing" is entirely contextual, i.e. what a specific application will need to distinguish.
What are we resolving to from this identifier?
A DOI® name can resolve to anything. At minimum it will resolve to a URL, but there may be multiple URLs or it can be configured to return multiple other data types.
What metadata are we associating with this DOI name?
Without an explicit structured metadata layer, an identifier essentially can have no meaning at all outside a specific application. Most DOI names are not yet used for widespread interoperability, but are used within specific applications. They do not need to reveal explicit structured metadata, but RAs maintain Kernel metadata and additional application metadata which may be delivered in a number of ways.
What are the interoperability requirements?
The DOI system has a mechanism for interoperability with other standards. If the application is in a sector where other identifiers or metadata schemes are already in use a Registration Agency will need to work out an implementation of this in detail that is practical for the community that they serve.
How will the DOI application be paid for?
A cost is associated with managing persistence and with assigning identifiers and data to ensure long-term stability, because of the need for human intervention and support of an infrastructure. In the DOI System the way in which these costs are recouped depends on the application. RAs are free to establish their own business model for the allocation of DOI names. The services offered by a DOI RA will include more than simple provision of a DOI name: these value added services may include data, content or rights management. There is no single business model applicable to all DOI RAs (and consequently no single answer to the question of how a DOI name is paid for and what it costs).
How can we do a comparison with other possible solutions?
The value of the DOI System derives from three main functions: Persistent identification; Network resolution; and Semantic interoperability. Comparison with alternative systems depends on which of the functions (none, one, or more) is provided by the system to be compared. Some key points of comparison are:
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