Thing 8: Citation metrics for data


Teaching: 0 min
Exercises: 0 min
  • What are Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) and how do they support data citation and metrics for data and related research objects?

  • Getting started: what are DOIs and why are they critical for accurate citation metrics?

  • Learn more: delves into altmetrics (and donuts!)

  • Challenge me: what about minting DOIs for software, algorithms and grey literature?

Getting started: DOIs, data citation and metrics

Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are unique identifiers that provide persistent access to published articles, datasets, software versions and a range of other research inputs and outputs. There are over 120million Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) in use, and last year DOIs were “resolved” (clicked on) over 5 billion times!

Each DOI is unique but a typical DOI looks like this:

DOIs can be used to collect citation metrics about the use of a dataset or article.

  1. Start by watching this short 4.5min video Persistent identifiers and data citation explained from the Netherlands. It gives you a succinct, clear explanation of how DOIs underpin data citation.
  2. Have a look at the Data citation poster (opens to an A4 size) - follow the arrows to see how DOIs are attached to data sets. data citation poster
  3. Let’s go to a CSIRO data record which shows how DOIs are used. Click on this DOI to ‘resolve’ the DOI and take us to the record:

    Click on both the Description and Data tabs and note how many times the DOI is used in this data record. It will give you some ideas why DOIs are given such prominence.

  4. This same record has been syndicated to Research Data Australia. Click on the Cite icon on the upper left of the record (under the green Go To Data Provider tab). Now click on the DOI in the data citation. No matter where the DOI appears it always resolves back to its original dataset record to avoid duplication. I.e. many records, one copy.
  5. DOIs can also be applied to grey literature, such as reports like the Haefliger’s cottage investigation with this DOI in the NEW Archaeology Online: Grey Literature Archive.

If you have time: Want to know more about DOIs? Scan the ANDS DOI Guide page.

Metrics such as Times Viewed, Times Accessed and Times Downloaded are commonly known as Altmetrics. Altmetrics are explored in Thing 8 Learn More.

What’s your opinion?

Here’s a controversial question to consider: should DOIs be routinely applied to all research outputs? Remember that DOIs carry an expectation of persistence (maintenance costs etc) but can be used to collect metrics as well as to link related outputs such as articles and data (evidence of impact).

Learn more: Who cares about (alt)metrics?

Alternative metrics or altmetrics count the number of views, number of downloads, social media “likes” and recommendations associated with a dataset. Because of their immediacy, altmetrics can be an early indicator of the impact or reach of a dataset; long before formal citation metrics can be assessed.

  1. Start by looking at the altmetrics for this Phylogenomics article published in Science. Note the number and pattern of downloads for this article since it was published in November 2014.
  2. Now click on the “donut” or the link to ‘More Details’ to see the wealth of information available.
  3. Look also at the associated data in Dryad noting that the data has been assigned a DOI. Can you see how many times the data has been downloaded and the record viewed (scroll down to the bottom of the record)?

By way of comparison, as of early April 2016:

Consider: Do you think altmetrics for data have value in academic settings? Why, or why not?

Challenge me: ‘Minting’ DOIs for research data

The ANDS DOI service (Cite My Data) service enables research organisations to assign Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to research datasets and collections as well as well as associated software, workflows, models and grey literature. The service is intended for use by publicly funded Australian research organisations and is available as a machine-to-machine or manual service.

  1. Start by reading an overview of the ANDS DOI service and perhaps the ANDS DOI service technical documentation.
  2. Consider also the need for guidelines around when a DOI will be minted, by whom and how DOIs will be managed to ensure long term persistence. You might like to look at these examples of institutional guidelines for DOI minting.

Consider: what do you think are the critical issues to ensure the persistence of DOIs over a number of years?

Key Points

  • First key point.