Connecting the Persistent Identifier Ecosystem: Building the Technical and Human Infrastructure for Open Research




persistent identifiers, research infrastructure, interoperable services, data citation, scholarly communication


The persistent identifier (PID) landscape extends to cover objects, individuals and organisations engaged in the process of research. Established services such as DataCite, Crossref, ORCID and ISNI are providing a foundation for a trusted ecosystem and a new generation of services. Scalable identifier systems will support researchers and capture research activity in a holistic way, across the entire lifecycle. Challenges remain – siloed services are not interoperable; important types of objects are not adequately covered, many processes remain manual, and adoption, while strong, is not consistent across disciplines.

This article draws on the work of the EU-funded THOR project to take stock of the current state of interoperability across the PID landscape and to discuss the next steps towards an integrated research record. Examples illustrate how this interconnectivity is facilitated technically, as well as social and human challenges in fostering adoption. User stories highlight how this network of persistent identifier services is facilitating good practice in open research and where its limitations lie.

Author Biographies

Angela Dappert, The British Library, London

Dr Angela Dappert is Project Manager for the EU-funded THOR project ( She has widely researched and published on digital repositories and preservation; consulted for archives and libraries on digital life cycle management and policies; led and conducted research in the EU-co-funded Planets, Scape, TIMBUS, and E-ARK projects; and applied digital preservation practice at the British Library through work on digital repository implementation, digital metadata standards, digital asset registration, digital asset ingest, preservation risk assessment, planning and characterization, and data carrier stabilization. She has applied work towards preservation of research data and processes, software environments and eJournals, with an emphasis on interoperability and standardisation. Angela holds a Ph.D. in Digital Preservation, an M.Sc. in Medical Informatics and an M.Sc. in Computer Sciences. She serves on the PREMIS Editorial Committee and a number of advisory bodies.

Adam Farquhar, The British Library, London

Adam Farquhar is Head of Digital Scholarship at the British Library, where he and his team focus on establishing services for researchers that take full advantage of the possibilities that digital collections and data present across all formats and subjects.

He is principle investigator for the British Library Labs project; co-ordinates the THOR project that will provide seamless identifier services for researchers and data; member of the International Image Interoperability (IIIF) Consortium executive committee; Director of the Endangered Archives Programme that works with teams around the globe to preserve archival material that is in danger of destruction, neglect or physical deterioration; President of DataCite, an international association dedicated to making it easier to identify, cite, and reuse scientific data; and founder and Board member of the Open Preservation Foundation.

He has been responsible for the Library’s maps, newspaper, photographic, audio and moving image collections. Before joining the Library, he was the principle knowledge management architect for Schlumberger and research scientist at the Stanford Knowledge Systems Laboratory.

Rachael Kotarski, The British Library, London

Rachael Kotarski runs the DataCite UK service at the British Library, working with UK organisations to assign DOIs to their outputs, as well as developing new research data services. She has contributed to a number of projects on data citation and persistent identifiers including the current THOR project. 

Kirstie Hewlett, The British Library, London

Kirstie Hewlett is the Project Support Officer for the THOR project at the British Library. Coming from a research background in the Humanities, she gained her doctorate in Musicology from the University of Southampton in 2015 and has since worked within the fields of research impact and digital scholarship.

She is the lead author of two forthcoming reports on the impact of academic research in the UK, has produced media projects for clients ranging from BBC Radio 4 to the Royal Musical Association, is a core contributor to the digital humanities project Schenker Documents Online, and guest lectures in music and radio production at Ravensbourne and Middlesex University.

- See more at: