Why use persistent identifiers?
Persistent identifiers (PIDs) are critical for building and maintaining reliable and robust links between objects, people, communities and infrastructures. This is especially critical for having reliable citations in scientific literature. Citations help researchers to verify scientific content and give credit where it is due, and in both cases, PIDs play a crucial role.
PIDs eliminate name ambiguity and point persistently on the location of a digital object. They ensure that people can be referred to unambiguously and thus solve the challenge of name changes and common names (the so-called 'John Smith' challenge). Credit can be assigned correctly and accumulated throughout a researcher’s career.
Without PIDs, the problem of 'broken links' resulting in frustrating HTTP errors remains. Even after decades, clicking on the link of an object should still resolve into useful information about what used to be there.
PIDs help to make digital objects:
- By identifying them uniquely and reliably.
- By resolving to the specific object reliably and consistently, even if it moves to a new location.
- By pointing directly to a particular version / to a specific state of an object.
- By exposing the provenance of objects, by connecting them and thus by improving accuracy and the flow of information.
- By providing provenance and transparency, which makes objects trustworthy.
- By an interconnected network of specifically identified objects.
For scientists at CERN, the main benefit of PIDs are the discoverability and profile building opportunities offered. For example, your profile on INSPIRE benefits from using ORCID iDs, as more of your contributions can be assigned unambiguously to your account. Also, you can receive credit for your research data or software once you have published them on services like CERN Open Data or Zenodo. In addition, discovering new literature is easier when the content is persistently available and you can actually access the literature.
For repository managers, the main benefit is the longevity and trustworthy nature of PIDs. For software developers, the main benefit of PIDs is their trustworthiness and the accompanying metadata requirements contribute towards interoperability. Additionally, PIDs help digital repositories to comply with funder requirements as minting PIDs aligns with the FAIR principles and Open Science guidelines.