DOI Assignment to Dissertations and Theses

Is there a best or standard practice for which organizations typically assign DOIs to dissertations and theses? I could imagine the university or institution where the dissertation is produced might assign a DOI or the organization publishing the dissertation.

As a funding organization, we are considering if we should assign DOIs to dissertations. Or, if DOI assignment is occurring through another mechanism prior to the dissertation or thesis being provided to us.


Hi Carly - in my experience, it really depends on the university at which the dissertation or thesis was produced. Some institutions do collect ETDs (electronic theses and dissertations) in their institutional repository or they have a specific repository for ETDs - some institutions are assigning DOIs to the ETDs in their repository, whereas others do not (yet).

For example, Univ. of Virginia has a Samvera repository specifically for ETDs: UVA Library and they are assigning DOIs to them. Not every organization does this. For example, Univ. of Oregon stores ETDs in their DSpace IR, but they use handles and do not assign DOIs.

I hope this helps!


UBC has been assigning DOIs to our dissertations and thesis both retrospectively, since day 1 in 1915 to today –, almost 49K digital items.



Thanks @sheila.rabun! Very helpful.

Thanks, Eugene! Great to understand!

We considered this in the Unlocking Thesis Data project in 2015 (disclosure: I led this project which looked at persistent identifiers in PhD theses). The university as the awarding body acts as the effective publisher, so is best placed to assign the DOI. The project report at looked at using PIDs: DOIs for theses (and possibly separate ones for the underpinning data) and ORCIDs for the doctoral candidates.Six case studies looked at the workflows in specific British universities.


Thank you for sharing @StephenGraceful! It definitely makes sense for the universities, as the publishers, to assign the DOI when they have the capability to do so. I’ll take a closer at the project report.

The British Library EThOS thesis service was involved in the thesis DOI study Stephen mentions. Many UK HE institutions now assign DataCite DOIs for their theses - Cambridge and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine are two who’ve created DOIs for all retrospective and current theses. Case studies - Case studies - The British Library .


Thanks, @SaraGould! Very helpful to understand.