Guidance for Registering DataCite DOIs for Awards

DataCite is a global community of research organizations with a common purpose. As part of this effort and aligned with our multi-year strategy, we launched a pilot to help our community track awards and related outputs. During the pilot, we registered award DOIs, coordinated on common challenges, established clear community guidelines, and will now work to improve our existing services to better support use cases. This work is integral to our vision.

We are pleased to share that as we wind down our successful award ID pilot program, we have confirmed its strategic alignment and positive impact within our community. With this validation, we are excited to extend award ID services more broadly, enhancing our commitment to community engagement and recognition.

Piloting DOIs for Awards at DataCite

Traditionally, research funding organizations create and manage grant and award-related information internally and track the impact of their investments through elaborate reporting procedures. These processes can be improved by leveraging DOIs and metadata. Unlike internal award numbers that are operationally meaningful in the local contexts, DOIs as persistent identifiers (PID) are globally unique and resolvable. Registering DOIs for awards creates rich open metadata that underpins a wide array of open research use cases, including increased discoverability of awards and traceability of outputs across systems and platforms.

Since the second half of 2023, DataCite has been engaging with Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC), California Digital Library (CDL), the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), and the Commission for Research Information in Germany (KFiD), partner organizations who expressed interest in adopting PIDs in their grant and/or award management workflows to pilot the usage of DataCite DOIs. The pilot started with a guiding document outlining the scope and purpose of the service, as well as a step-by-step instruction for creating the metadata record for a grant or award. Through the process, we have gathered concrete use cases from different types of institutions and for different funding schemes in terms of structure, complexity, and types of resources being awarded. 

As part of this pilot, CDL registered DOIs in DataCite for more than 7,000 grants awarded by the University of California as part of a multi-disciplinary and multi-million-dollar grantmaking portfolio focused on innovative research that is critical to California, the United States, and the world. By registering DOIs for these awards, information about UC-funded research activities will become more visible and discoverable for administrators as well as for other researchers and community stakeholders. 

Additionally, the DataCite team also created DOIs for the Global Access Fund (GAF) grants ( The GAF awards were offered to 12 organizations across the GAP regions to carry out projects for regional engagement, infrastructure building, and demonstrator incubation. Registering DOIs for the GAF fund and the awards, and linking them with connection metadata serve as a good example for funding organizations working with awards with hierarchical relations. 

Guidance for Registering DOIs for Awards

Together with pilot organizations, we tackled a series of metadata mapping questions and integrated these insights into the guidelines for registering DataCite DOIs for awards. We expect this document to help the DataCite community get started to register awards and query funding information. We look forward to hearing your feedback as we continue to develop features that better support funder use cases.

How to Talk About Funding

One of the first notions that emerged from the conversations around funding was the multitude of terminologies organizations used to refer to it. Funding, grant, award, investment, sponsorship, scholarship, to name a few, and behind each expression there is implicit reference to funding scheme, reporting procedure, awarding criteria etc. that are specific to the organization. In the guide, we elected to use “award” as the umbrella term for the purpose of simplicity, and provide a working definition of the various concepts that work in tandem with it, such as award scheme, award issuer, award project etc. 

How to Use DataCite Metadata to Describe Awards

We then provide our recommendations for applying the DataCite metadata properties to awards, tabularizing the applicable property elements with their corresponding usage notes to support the various use cases and workflows that emerged from the pilot, addressing questions such as:

  • How to represent different parties in the award issuing and management workflows
  • How to distinguish award and award project in the title
  • How to indicate resource type unambiguously 
  • How to represent hierarchical relationships between award and sub-awards

We learned from the pilot that the DataCite Metadata Schema in its current form can already be used to describe awards and grants in rich detail, at the same time, we are actively working with the Metadata Working Group to chart the way towards officially instating Award into the schema controlled vocabulary.

How to Connect Awards With Related Entities

Connecting awards to related entities to enable various stakeholders to track outputs is one key use case for award DOIs. Specifically: 

  • People related to awards include award managers, committee members, award recipients, etc., 
  • Organizations related to awards include funder (award issuer), award DOI creator, recipient and/or their affiliations, etc., 
  • Other entities including funding scheme, project, data management plan, and various types of outputs. 

DataCite makes it easy to link these entities to the award DOI using their corresponding PID – ROR IDs for organizations, ORCID iDs for people, and DOIs for other resources – in the connection metadata fields found in the Creator, Contributor, Publisher, and RelatedIdentifier properties, with specific relation types outlined in the guide. 

Funding Information in DataCite Metadata

Since version 4.0, the DataCite Metadata Schema has included FundingReference as a distinct property to house the relevant information regarding financial support received in the process of creating the resource being registered. Over the years, we have aggregated nearly 2 million DOIs with funding information attached, and among them, 118k works are associated with funders identified with PIDs (ROR ID or Crossref Funder Registry ID). The funding reference element establishes connections between outputs and funding organizations. When funders and institutes create DOIs for awards, this allows funding information to be represented in DataCite metadata at a more granular level, enabling funders to see the impact of individual funding instances. 

At DataCite’s recent in-person event collocated with PIDfest in Prague, we discussed DOIs for grants and awards with participants in the breakout session and looked at conceptual clarity, adoption opportunities, and metadata workflows. The participants provided rich input and raised important questions that many organizations face in their administrative workflows. We will continue to engage closely going forward to support community needs and reflect community input. 

Integrating DOIs into the award-granting workflows incorporates research funding into the open infrastructure that enables discovery, access, and connection of all scholarly resources. We look forward to continuing working with funders and institutions to create best practices around DOIs for grants and awards and supporting their diverse use cases.