DOI or Handle System

Robert Huber rhuber at WDC-MARE.ORG
Thu Dec 22 11:08:48 CET 2005

Dear Ricardo,

The costs of DOIs really is a drawback of this system, this is true.
However, DOI currently represents the mainstream in GUID technologies,
most major publishers use it for their electronic publications. This
basically is it's main 'advantage'.

Handle (sensu latu) seems to be a robust system and is an approved
technology and used for commercial applications. For us at the WDC
that was the point to use it and the DOI 'trademark' was an argument
for using DOI (sensu strictu ;) ).
Our data sets are electronic objects eg.: which have a complete
set of dc compatible metadata set, such as authors, title etc.
We intended to raise the value of scientific primary data by making
this primary scientific data citeable as publications.
But of course, data publications might be somewhat different to what
GUIDs in GBIF are intended to be.

You also raise the question of metadata. In my point of view, this is
going to be the key issue. Metadata will allow to handle the relations
between GUID objects, eg. which taxon name relates to genetics,
observatory data, concepts or publication etc..

best regards,

Dr. Robert Huber
MARUM - Institute for Marine Environmental Sciences (location)
University Bremen
Leobener Strasse
POP 330 440
28359 Bremen
Phone ++49 421 218-65593, Fax ++49 421 218-65505
e-mail rhuber at, robert.huber at

> -----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
> Von: Taxonomic Databases Working Group GUID Project
> [mailto:TDWG-GUID at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU]Im Auftrag von Ricardo Scachetti
> Pereira
> Gesendet: Mittwoch, 21. Dezember 2005 13:53
> Betreff: DOI or Handle System
>     Hello,
>     So far we have been considering both DOI and Handle System (besides
> LSID and maybe ARK) as potential GUID technologies for biodiversity
> informatics. However, DOI uses the Handle System as its underlying
> resolution mechanism, thus sharing many features with Handles. What I
> wanted to discuss is whether DOI additional features warrant its use by
> our community, or we should only consider the Handle System as a
> potential candidate.
>     The DOI handbook states that the features added by DOI are metadata,
> policy and business rules [1]. According to the handbook, policy is
> specifically developed to control how the intellectual-property based
> businesses using DOI operate in the network [2]. As far as I can tell,
> the list of current policies [3] looks more like a list of mandatory
> requirements that all other technologies meet, plus other policies that
> have little use in the biodiversity informatics field. I believe that
> the same applies to the business rules they try to enforce.
>     That leaves us with the DOI metadata infrastructure built on top of
> the Handle System as the only usable feature uniquely provided by DOI.
> For one thing, it seems to be possible to perform queries in DOI using
> the metadata, which is an unique feature among the GUID technologies
> being evaluated. However, DOI metadata framework has two drawbacks: it
> is tied up to a particular technology, XML Schema, and (not so serious)
> DOI impose a mandatory set of metadata core fields, which are geared
> towards the publishing industry, but resemble the Dublin Core metadata
> profile.
>     In any case, a completely separate metadata framework can be
> implemented on top of the Handle System, either using DOI approach (not
> recommended - lot of work to reinvent DOI wheel) or using the type and
> index fields in the handle record (but not so nice because it is based
> on a proprietary protocol - more on this later). In LSID one can use ANY
> technology, past, present or future, to implement the metadata
> framework. And several implementations can be supported simultaneously
> by the framework. The LSID specs currently *recommends*, but does not
> mandate the use of RDF for metadata.
>     In any case this metadata facility comes at a price: the DOI fees.
>  From my professional experience in the field, I would say that the DOI
> funding model is not suitable for biodiversity informatics. I'm not
> saying that the other technologies have no setup and maintenance costs.
> It is just that their cost just doesn't appear as a yearly, per
> identifier fee. The costs of the other systems are incurred by
> individual agents (or authorities), usually in the form of in-kind
> contribution of systems and network administrator's time. To me, that
> seems like a much more suitable model for our field.
>     Given those arguments I would conclude that DOI is not suitable for
> our purposes and that we should really only consider the Handle System
> as a candidate GUID technology.
>     Comments are more than welcome.
>     Best regards,
> Ricardo
> [1] - DOI Handbook - Section 3.5.1 - Relationship between the DOI System
> and the Handle System -
> [2] - DOI Handbook - Section 6.1 - Policy formulation -
> [3] - DOI Handbook - Section 6.3 - Current policies of the IDF -

More information about the tdwg-tag mailing list