Do you need help?
Are you seeking for information and guided instructions?

We would like to share our experience in assigning and using DOI names.
At this place you will find a list of frequently asked questions. Also we provide information for you concerning our metadata schemata and the web services we offer.

Tools & Services

Web service (API)

  • The da|ra Web service (API) enables you to work automated with our DOI registration service without being forced to log in to your existing da|ra user account (obtain a user account) at the web page.

da|ra API Reference

Please mind the description of the current da|ra metadata schema including the xsd schema file.

  • We offer a tool for uploading XML-Files.

Documentation guides and the XML-Upload tool are listed in our download section.

Test the system

We offer a special interface for prospective publication agents. Please contact the respective contact person to obtain a test account.


da|ra offers access to the metadata of the registered research data using the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH).

Please consult the specification for implementation details:

DOI resolver

If you have found a DOI-name in a publication, an online or printed text and wish to quickly and easily find out more about the object, just enter the DOI name into the search field of the DOI resolver to go directly to the digital object (data, book, journal, article, graph, lecture etc.) or to a detailed description. The resolver can resolve the DOI names of all registration agencies of the International DOI Foundation.

Type or paste a DOI name into the text box above. Click Go. Your browser will take you to a Web page (URL) associated with that DOI name.

Archive and register data

Whether you are a researcher, research group or research institute seeking to have your data archived and secured for the long-term, while remaining easy to locate and cite, or you want to publish research findings and put them up for discussion in the scientific community, we have the solution.

The GESIS department "Data Services for the Social Sciences" enables long-term data archiving for institutes or projects not doing this themselves. The service offers its users an extensive data service: data processing, data archiving and data registration (via da|ra) as well as convenient data access.

Contact for further information about data archiving:

GESIS Department "Data Services for the Social Sciences"
☎ +49 (0) 221 47 694 420
E-Mail: dataservices(at)gesis(dot)org

Frequently Asked Questions

If you cannot find what you are looking for, please contact us.


Who and what is DataCite?

DataCite is one of the IDF-accredited registration agencies and provides the DOI registration service for research data. DataCite is an international association founded in London in 2009 with members from all over the world who share the goal of promoting the acceptance of research data as independent, citable scientific objects. DataCite members enable data owners, stewards, or archives to assign persistent identifiers to research data.

In 2020 DataCite has changed its membership model and offers three types of membership: 1) Member-only (this type of Member wants to collaborate with DataCite or be part of DataCite’s governance. These Members do not register DOIs. 2) Direct Member (this type of Member is a consumer of DOI services and consists of an organization that works with one or more repositories within their organization.) 3) Consortium Member (A consortium is a group of like-minded organizations that have come together to participate in DataCite’s community and governance activities collectively and use DataCite’s DOI services. Consortia are generally located in a single country or subject-based.)

The Leibniz institutions GESIS and ZBW have been early members of DataCite, and the joint DOI registration service da|ra has been in operation since 2010. Even though the change of the membership model of DataCite GESIS and ZBW have decided to continue the service and set up the da|ra Consortium in 2020, which was built from the former da|ra users. GESIS has the lead and represents the Consortium in DataCite.

What is a DOI?

A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a permanent, persistent identifier used for citing and linking electronic resources (texts, research data or other content). Updated, structured metadata is assigned to the document using the DOI name.

The DOI name is comprised of a unique alphanumeric character string; a prefix and suffix, whereby the prefix always begins with "10" and prefix and suffix are separated by a forward slash.
For example 10.4232/1.1 is a complete DOI name.

A DOI-name is not case sensitive, i.e. there is no distinction between capital and lowercase letters in a text string (for example, 10.1392/roma081203 is the same as 10.1392/ROMA081203). This identifier is purely a simple character string and outside of usage in the DOI system, nothing can be derived or inferred from it.

Prefixes are assigned by the International DOI Foundation (IDF) via DataCite. Each data center is assigned its own prefix. The suffix is agreed by the publication agent in conjunction with da|ra.

Remember, though, that the DOI name is an opaque string (a dumb number). No definitive information can or should be interpreted from the number in use. In particular, the fact that the DOI name has a prefix issued by a particular organization should not be used to identify the owner of any given intellectual property - the DOI name remains persistent through ownership changes, and the prefix is unaltered.
– (DOI-handbook)

Why do I need a DOI?

There are three main benefits to participating in the DOI system:

  • Permanent, persistent identification: Each DOI uniquely, unequivocally and permanently identifies the assigned object.
  • Availability of information on the web: Via the Handle System, each DOI refers to one or more webpages assigned by the publication agent.
  • Semantic interoperability: The metadata associated with a DOI enables direct, precise communicating – with each user, from every location, at every point in the production/distribution chain – with regard to every detail of the objects related with one another.

Benefits of a persistent identifier for research data:

  • Facilitated access
  • Simple citation
  • Visibility of research
  • Proof of impact (citation rate)
  • Traceability of research
  • Support for secondary analysis
  • Visibility for data providers
  • Impact factor for data preparation

What is the difference between DOI, URN und Handle?

DOI names are quality-tested and archived long-term by the registration agent and the International DOI Foundation. DOI names can be resolved by every computer with internet access from anywhere in the world. A URN is also quality-tested and archived long-term, but resolving has thus far only been possible via the assigning institution’s webpage, however this institution is not always known.

A Handle is universally resolvable but has no superior institution responsible for ensuring its quality and is thus not well-suited for scientific citation. Handles are appropriate for large amounts of data which are to be globally cited.

Assigning URNs can be useful in cases where a document is being continually locally accessed within a closed system such as with dissertations, etc., for example.

What is meant by DOI resolution?

A DOI name can be quickly and easily resolved to the URL associated with it. DOI resolution is made possible by the Handle system technology developed by CNRI and hosted by the DOANA Foundation. Simply enter the text string , followed by the DOI name in the address bar of a preferred browser. An example: A DOI name of the form 10.4232/1.10059 would be resolved from the address:
You could also use the resolver tool on the da|ra website to resolve your DOI.

Resolution of a DOI name is to the stored and controlled metadata information (landing page). This offers the user a rapid, comprehensive overview of a multitude of entries on the dataset, such as, for example, title, survey period, primary researcher, content, etc., as well as information related to conditions governing access to the actual dataset.

Access to the dataset will be determined by the present conditions of the storage location. The intended goal is to gain direct access to the dataset with the next click.

Best practice

Our Best Practice Guide give you recommendations and suggestions to optimize the registration of your data holdings.


Granularity is an important aspect when registering research data. Granularity describes the degree of aggregation of the resource to be registered. Different levels of granularity can be useful depending on discipline or resource.

Update and Versions

The versioning is critical for the long-term preservation of resources.
In general the following aspects should be considered regarding versioning.

  • An object with an assigned DOI name should not be changed.
  • Each change must be saved as a new version and a new DOI name must be assigned.
  • The publication agent is responsible for versioning.
    At the beginning, it is useful to define milestone versions of the resource and to store those separately.
    Changes in these milestone versions should be documented and saved as a new version (see first example below). There are various ways to formulate versioning.

Data citation

Usage, analysis and publication of research data and research results require information about author, location and identification of data.

Correct and complete citation of a resource can be created with the following elements on the basis of the da|ra metadata:

Creator (publication date): Title. Version. Publisher. General resource type. Identifier

The identifier is the Digital Object Identifier (DOI). It is displayed in the citation as a URL link including the necessary resolver and without "doi:". If the Publisher is not given, the name of the consortium organization providing the resource and the metadata will be mapped by da|ra.

Examples for resource citations:

Ahlfeldt, Gabriel; Bald, Fabian; Roth, Duncan; Seidel, Tobias (2020): ABRS_RED_PriceIndices_LMR0717. Real Estate Data appendix to Quality of life in a dynamic spatial model. RWI-GEO-RED. Version: 1. RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research. Dataset.   
Amon Prodnik, Jernej (2020): Novinarstvo v socialistični Jugoslaviji in imaginariji medijev skozi občinstvo, 2019. Version: 1.0. University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences, Slovenian Social Science Data Archives (ADP). Dataset. 
Hawrot, Anna (2021): Psychometric Properties of the "Teaching Quality" Scale for Teachers in Starting Cohorts 2, 3, and 4. NEPS Survey Papers, No. 82 (2021). Version: 1.0. LIfBi Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories. Text. 

Work with da|ra

What does DOI registration cost?

da|ra is offering DOI registration free of charge. If the business modell should be changed da|ra will promptly inform the da|ra consortium organizations according to the terms and timeframe of the SLA and the consortium organization has the right to terminate the SLA signed with da|ra effective immediately.

How do I obtain a DOI name for my data?

Social science and economic research organizations are authorized for DOI registration. Eligible digital objects are research data at various formats and levels, including survey responses, business and administrative records, statistics, data derived from scoring systems (e.g., consumer scores or grades in schools and universities), text, audio, video, qualitative interviews, or internet usage data. Varying degrees of aggregation from the individual level to the nation state (and beyond) result in different restrictions on storing, using, and sharing data.

DOI-registration is via a user account provided to the da|ra consortium organization. The interested Organisations has to beome a member of the da|ra consortium and a Service Level Agreement (SLA) must be completed with a da|ra operator (GESIS; ZBW) prior to the granting of a user account.

To obtain further information please contact us. We will get in touch with you right away with information about concluding a Service Level Agreement (SLA).

More information on requirements for the allocating of DOI names can be found in the da|ra policy.

How do I obtain the data belonging to a study?

As a rule registered data and datasets remain with the datacenters. Access to a study’s data/datasets is via redirect to the website of the data provider.

It may be necessary to conclude a contract with the data provider for onpassing of data (SOEP), and/or data usage (ZPID). Details can be found at the websites of the respective datacenters.

A corresponding traffic light style symbol indicates the availability of data and datasets in the search results.

Is it possible to register only a single DOI name?

It is also possible to register only a single dataset or a small amount of data. A Service Level Agreement is also required for this.

What happens if the cooperation is terminated?

In the event of an organization terminating their cooperation agreement, the resolving of the related DOI names can no longer be guaranteed. As such situations are not beneficial to either party a long-term solution with the datacenter should be sought.

The minimum standard should be that the URL to which the DOI name resolves, links to an HTML page with contact info for the providing organization.

If a change is made to another DataCite Consortium, the extant prefix can be taken along to that new agent for registering new objects. The metadata of objects already registered remains with da|ra and must be maintained in accordance with the SLA concluded with the publication agent.

What happens if the URLs or metadata change?

It is possible to modify the metadata in our database. The Consortium organization is responsible for this. Changes to a URL are updated in the da|ra system within three (3) working days and metadata is amended accordingly.

da|ra reserves the right to regularly check that metadata is up-to-date. The results of these checks will be made available to the Consortium organisation. In the event that metadata is repeatedly not updated a public notice to this effect will be published in the da|ra system for this entry.

da|ra XML

How does a da|ra XML file look like?

Examples for XML files of different resource types can be found at the da|ra website under downloads.

How do I find out whether my XML file is valid and will be accepted by the system?

Before you upload XML files in da|ra (metadata upload) or send to da|ra (Web service API), you can validate them against the currently valid da|ra XSD. You can use programs such as oxygen, notepad ++ plugin, etc.

Where can I find the current da|ra XSD to validate my XML files?

Baran, Erdal; Dimitrov, Dimitar (2017): da|ra xsd Schema. Version: 4.0. GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences. Text.

view XSD

What do I need to keep in mind for the creation and update of XML files?

A variant of the creation of a DOI and the update of a resource is carried out via the field resource identifier. Therefore we kindly ask you to add your own ID and version of your system if possible. This facilitates the mapping of the metadata to your resource.


    <identifier>Own ID</identifier>
    <currentVersion>Own version</currentVersion>

How can I make an own suggestion for the suffix when working with XML?

If you do not want an automatically generated DOI, please fill out the field doiProposal.


<doiProposal>Your prefix/Your suffix</doiProposal>

da|ra API

Where can I find information about the use of the API?

The description of the API can be accessed in the download section.

What do I have to consider when using the API?

To change or update the metadata you need the primary keys ID and version. Therefore, please do not leave the field ressourceIdentifier with the subfields identifier and currentVersion empty.


             <identifier>Own ID</identifier>
             <currentVersion>Own version</currentVersion>

Are there any differences between registration and update of the metadata when using the API?

For the registration of a resource the parameters registration=true needs to be set. These parameters can be omitted for an update without registration.

Test system

How do I get access to the test system of da|ra?

For a test account please contact our contact persons.

For technical inquiries to the test system contact the da|ra technical support team:

Matthäus Zloch

+ 49 (0)221 47694-534,

Saeed Hatami

+ 49 (0)221 47694-538,

What needs to be kept in mind while using the test system?

In the test system a registration is only possible with the test prefix (10.17889/…). An own suffix can however be chosen and entered into the XML file with doiProposal or via the web form under DOI proposal.


<doiProposal>10.17889/Own suffix</doiProposal>

Technical Help


Wrong credentials and DOI name prefix

  • Are you logged into your correct account (username, password)?
  • Is your DOI name prefix correct?

Valid DOI names

  • Is your DOI name a valid one? DataCite has a set of permitted characters for the suffix of a DOI name. Please see our White list of characters, V 2.0.

  • Note that + is no longer allowed! To check the DOI names, da|ra uses the following regular expression: /^10.\d{4,9}/[._;()/:AZ09]+$/i.

  • The <doiProposal/> must not have trailing whitespaces.

Have you provided all mandatory fields?

  • To register a DOI name, the following information is required: resourceType, title, creator, publicationDate, availability, dataURL.
  • In case that you cannot provide values for all mandatory fields, e.g. the resource has no title or creator, please use the DataCite set of standard values for unknown information (cf. DataCite-MetadataKernel_v4.3.pdf on page 60 “Appendix 3: Standard values for unknown information”).

Registering a DOI by mistake

DOI names are persistent identifiers. Thus, a DOI which has already been registered cannot be altered or deleted. However, there are the following alternatives:

  • Creating a tombstone page that indicates the DOI has been withdrawn. Additionally, the DOI metadata field <availabilityType/> in da|ra has to be set to NotAvailable. (recommended solution)
  • Substituting the whole metadata for the resource. This would allow you to reuse the DOI to register another resource.

Reminting DOIs

Your registered DOI does not resolve to the correct landing page? da|ra allows multiple dataURL entries for a resource. However, DOIs always resolve to the first dataURL in the dataURL list. After altering the dataURL list, you will have to make sure that the URL in the first list position is the URL you want the DOI to resolve to. Subsequently, you will have to explicitly trigger the DOI reminting by clicking on the "URL update" button in the web form or use the da|ra API again. To make sure you do not forget to do so, an open task will appear on the "My da|ra" dashboard.

Redirects/Redirecting of your landing pages

Occasionally organizations need to change and redesign their Web appearance, which involves changing the URLs of DOI landing pages. A common workaround used by webmasters is redirecting landing pages. However, redirecting landing pages goes against the core persistent identifier idea and should be used as a temporary solution for a limited time only. Best practice in such cases is to use the da|ra API to remint all affected DOIs.

Special characters in landing page URLs

A landing page URL containing special characters (e.g. ä, ü, ö, etc.) can cause problems in da|ra. We recommend using landing page URLs with no special characters.

Web Form

Missing metadata language

Before you can fill out the web form, you must select the primary language for your resource's metadata.
If the primary language for metadata is not available, please contact the da|ra team at

Web Form and JavaScript

If you experience problems filling in the web form, you should check if JavaScript is disabled in your browser. If so, please enable JavaScript.

XML Upload

XML Upload does not work

  • Have you uploaded a valid XML file? Are you using the current XSD?

  • Are you using the current controlled vocabularies? Please sign-in your da|ra user account and check the listed controlled vocabularies in the "Metadata upload" section of the dashboard.

  • Your XML file must be "UTF-8" encoded without BOM. The encoding can easily be changed with a text editor (e.g. Notepad++).

If it still does not work, send the XML file to the da|ra team at

Did you specify the namespaces in the root element of your XML file?

Make sure your root element looks like this expression:
<resource xmlns="" xmlns:xsi="" xsi:schemaLocation="">