What is a persistent URL? What is a DOI?

A persistent URL is one that never changes. Persistent URLs are designed so that your bookmarks and links don't break when a website gets updated.

On the ICPSR website, our study descriptions now have persistent URLs. If you want to bookmark a study page or link to it from your website, you should bookmark/link the persistent URL. In most browsers, you can do this by right-clicking on the link. In the menu that appears, there will be an option to add it to your bookmarks.


DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier (see The DOI System). A DOI is a unique persistent identifier for a published digital object, such as an article or a study. A DOI also links to an article or study. Here is an example of a citation for an ICPSR study with a DOI:

Deschenes, Elizabeth Piper, Susan Turner, and Joan Petersilia. INTENSIVE COMMUNITY SUPERVISION IN MINNESOTA, 1990-1992: A DUAL EXPERIMENT IN PRISON DIVERSION AND ENHANCED SUPERVISED RELEASE [Computer file]. ICPSR06849-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2000. doi:10.3886/ICPSR06849

The DOI in this example is 10.3886/ICPSR06849 and it links to the URL:


ICPSR maintains the DOI so that the link will always work. On most websites, when you see a DOI it is a clickable object.

If you're accessing an article, you'll probably be forwarded to a reference service like JStor or ProQuest, and if your campus has a subscription with that service, you should be able to access the full text. In other words, DOIs also have built-in OpenURL functionality.

DOIs are concise and easy to include in a citation. DOIs appear in the citations that we display on the ICPSR website and include with each download. If you publish an article using ICPSR data and you include the DOI in the data citation as one of your references, you make it easy for other researchers to get back to the original data.

DOIs are also part of an integrated network of linkages between articles and datasets that is maintained by publishers and archives through registration agencies like CrossRef. The inclusion of DOIs in citations makes it much easier for us to see how a report or dataset generates other research, which in turn assists researchers in demonstrating the value and scientific impact of their work.

How do I get a DOI for my survey?

DOIs are created/registered by publishing organizations, not by individuals. If you deposit your data with us, we'll assign a DOI for your study and it will appear in the citation on our website and in downloads.

How do I get a DOI for my report or article?

The journal/publisher of the article should assign the DOI. If your publisher isn't registering DOIs, you should encourage them to do so. The CrossRef website has useful information on how to get started.

How do I use DOIs?

Include them in your footnotes and references. Just copy and paste the citation, as you normally would, along with the DOI. By properly citing the data and including the DOI, you're giving proper credit to the investigators who conducted the research and giving the scholarly community a clearer picture of the impact of the research.

How do I demonstrate the impact of a study I've deposited with ICPSR?

The related literature link, available with each study, connects to a list of all the publications based upon your study that ICPSR has been able to find. DOIs enable us to harvest those citations more easily, because publishers submit these linkages to the DOI repositories, and we can capture them from there. If you want to help the process along (to build a complete list of citations), please:

  • Email us any citations to publications we've missed: bibliography@icpsr.umich.edu.
  • Include the DOI for the dataset whenever you publish articles about the data.
  • Educate other researchers about the power and utility of DOIs. The system works best when everyone uses it.
  • When writing reports, always cite the data. Encourage other researchers to cite the data as well.
  • Encourage journal editors to include citations to data and their DOIs, along with citations to publications.

Found a problem? Use our Report Problem form to let us know.