The Informal Persistent Locator, an Alternative to DOI
Richard H. Zander
Res Botanica, a Missouri Botanical Garden Web Site
February 16, 2010
IPL: 25898-09681-44459

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For those without the funds or the energy to participate in the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) program, such as those operating or contributing to mon-and-pop electronic journals, it is possible to use an Informal Persistent Locator (IPL) to track each individual papers (say, HTML or PDF), that is, other than the ISSN or ISBN numbers for entire journals or books.


The IPL is an alphanumeric code that you yourself generate randomly or pseudorandomly that is long enough not to be duplicated within a reasonable time frame by other randomly generated strings of similar length. Tack it on your article with the abstract, then ask for it to be cited with your paper in bibliographies, and others should always be able to find copies anywhere they may be on the Web.


One might use any string of numbers and letters, but a set of three five alphanumeric strings seems neat. For example, I used Randset


to generate a pseudorandom string of 15 digits, 258980968144459, then added hyphens.


IPL: 25898-09681-44459


Any alphabetic string whatever may be used, of reasonable length and avoiding digits and letters that may be confused (0 and O, 1 and l, 6 and b, etc.). This results in a poor man's DOI, working solely as locator, unattached to any special bibliographic infrastructure of metadata beyond Web spidering. Even if someone duplicates your IPL, then a Web search on the IPL will obtain only two PDFs to select from.


See also: DOI home page

and entries on DOIs, handles, PURLs, GUIDs, etc. in Wikipedia.


For example: “Please cite the IPL whenever this paper is given in bibliographies IPL: 25898-09681-44459, in absence of a DOI.”