What are Persistent Identifiers?

A persistent identifier (PID) is a long-lasting reference to a resource. That resource might be a publication, dataset or person. Equally it could be a scientific sample, funding body, set of geographical coordinates, unpublished report or piece of software.

Whatever it is, the primary purpose of the PID is to provide the information required to reliably identify, verify and locate it. A PID may be connected to a set of metadata describing an item rather than to the item itself.

There are different PID types for different kinds of resources. In the current research environment we most commonly see two varieties: those for objects (publications, data, software) and those for people (researchers, authors, contributors).

Useful Links


Another useful link is Identifiers for the 21st century: How to design, provision, and reuse persistent identifiers to maximize utility and impact of life science data.