ANDS DOI service expands to include grey literature

Posted by Amanda Lawrence on 7 April 2016

By Amanda Lawrence

First published at

In recent years the value of data has been increasingly recognised along with the need to make more of it accessible and better managed. The Australian National Data Service (link is external) (ANDS) was set up by the federal government to improve the discovery, access and management of research data in Australia. One of the key services ANDS offers is to be the Australian organisation providing Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) (link is external)issued by the international collaboration Datacite (link is external).

Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) provide a stable address for online content via a resolving service which locates the content even if it has been moved to a new location (providing the details have been updated). The identifier also helps to link digital content to related content or information such as authors. DOIs have been used in journal publishing for some time and are now being applied to data sets, partly also to emphasise their legitimacy as a scholarly output on parr with articles.

So we have DOIs for journal articles and DOIs for data, but what about all the other valuable research content being published? Reasearch reports, working papers, technical reports, discussion papers, evaluations, surveys etc etc. Also known as grey literature. These resources are often forgotten in the discussion of how to improve scholarly communication and better manage research outputs. Despite their value and essential role in research and public policy grey literature publications such as reports and brefings lack sufficient recognition and reward in the academic system and therefore are often overlooked (see our research on this).

Here at APO we are of course highly aware of the value and impact of reports and other grey literature resources for research, policy and practice. We are also very aware of the need to find better ways to manage digital resources and improve their discovery and access. So we were thrilled to discover that Datacite could mint DOIs for grey literature and through an ANDS Major Open Collections Project grant to Swinburne University we implemented our own DOI minting service for full text resources and datasets in 2015.

This was pioneering stuff as there was little awareness that Datacite could mint DOIs for grey literature or that this could be as useful and important as DOIs for data. It has resulted in increased data and full text hosting on APO and allowed APO metadata to integrate with the researcher identification system ORCID (link is external) (and visa versa). Its been an important step in the battle for increased recognition of the diverse publications and research outputs that count when it comes to public policy.

That battle just had a major win this week when ANDS Director, Dr Adrian Burton, announced that ANDS is expanding their DOI service (link is external) to cover grey literature as well as research datasets and collections, associated workflows, software and models. As he states, "Extending the service to allow DOIs to be assigned to this type of material will fill a community need to persistently reference and cite these types of resources." This is a great decision for ANDS and for the research and policy community. According to ANDS the expansion was made in response to a request from the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL (link is external)). We appreciate the work done by CAUL to pursue this change of policy. We also take some quiet pride in being the first repository in Australia to lobby for and implement DOI minting for grey literature.

Our service has been running successfully for the past year and we encourage any organisation wishing to secure a DOI for a research output - grey literature or data - of relevance to public policy issues to add their resource to APO for hosting on APO and tick the box to request a DOI.