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Free and easy access to online geodetic data: using Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) for UNAVCO data and metadata

  • Project Lead: Fran Boler
  • UNAVCO Interns: Matt Lancaster and Matt Peters
  • Dates: June 9 - August 1, 2014
  • Location(s): Boulder, Colorado
  • Funding Source: NSF

Written by Matt Peters, Matt Lancaster, Fran Boler, and Celia Schiffman
30 June 2014


Free and open access to scientific data is pivotal to the success of geoscience research worldwide. Digital object identifiers (DOIs) allow data sets to be uniformly cited, making it easier for researchers to find the original source of data in publications and for UNAVCO and the researchers we support to be properly acknowledged.

This summer we employed two data technician interns to work on assigning DOIs to existing data sets in the UNAVCO archive from as far back as 1988. Matt Peters, an undergraduate student at the Colorado School of Mines, and Matt Lancaster, a recent graduate of Portland State University’s graduate geology program, worked at our Boulder, Colorado office to ensure the accuracy and completeness of author information and release notes for archived data sets generated by investigators worldwide, and then published them online with DOIs.


A digital object identifier (DOI) is a globally unique web-searchable name permanently assigned to content for use over the Internet, and follows a set of standards governed by the International DOI Foundation (IDF). A DOI provides a stable link to digital data and metadata (e.g. the time series for a GPS station and information about the station), as well as a citation summary page, which includes guidelines on proper citation and other relevant content. DOIs are currently used by most journals for individual articles, and are becoming standard for scientific data in order to ensure proper credit is given to data set creators. UNAVCO is using DOIs for members’ data sets and metadata to facilitate proper attribution for the data set creators, to enhance data availability over the Internet, and for investigators’ improved access to data and metadata.

Prior to the publication of a data set with an associated DOI, we are contacting the researchers who generated the data set to verify the metadata and allow them to supply additional information such as release notes and associated publications. With thousands of data sets in UNAVCO’s archive under the authorship of hundreds of researchers, verification of the details is crucial to quality control. Following this process is the publication or “minting” of DOIs, which will make more of UNAVCO’s data accessible via the DOI search mechanism under the Data tab at www.unavco.org.


UNAVCO has over 400 investigators who have contributed data to the UNAVCO archive, making the publication of DOIs an organizational and communications challenge dependent on attention to detail. Affirming data set and metadata accuracy requires a careful and focused discussion between UNAVCO and contributing researchers.

Related Links

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UNAVCO Boulder Facility


Last modified: 2020-01-28  22:54:29  America/Denver