Assigning identifiers to each item of data, software or research resource is essential to the future of research.

They are used in all computer-based systems to identify and retrieve datasets and software, and to connect data with related resources to enhance data discovery. They enable connections and provide important provenance information to data and the resulting research.

Identifiers also enable data, physical samples and software to be a citable part of the scholarly record.

How to use identifiers in your research

Identifiers may be used in the following ways:

  1. Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) for research data, software and grey literature
  2. Open Researcher or Contributor ID (ORCiD ID)  or ISNI ID (International Standard Name Identifier) for people and organisations
  3. International Geo Sample Number (IGSN) for physical samples
  4. Research Activity Identifier (RAiD) for research activities and projects Persistent Uniform Resource Locator (PURL) for ARC and NHMRC research grants

We also provide and connect with several identifier services, as well as use them in our own services.

Purpose of each identifier

For data and software

Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are used to uniquely identify both research data and software, and provide a persistent link to the location of the object on the internet. DOIs also enable citation and citation metrics. You can read more on these below:

DOI system and research data
DOIs for data citation
DOIs for software citation
DOI service (Cite My Data)

For people and organisations

Identifiers for researchers and research organisations allow different forms of names to be linked together to support better discovery of research data collections. ORCiD is a great example of this as it provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between you and your professional outputs ensuring that your work is recognised.

For activities and projects

Identifiers for funded projects allow linking of grant and project descriptions to research data and associated software as relevant parties.

Identifiers for research activities allow oversight across the whole research activity and make reporting and data provenance clear and easy. The Research Activity Identifier (RAiD) is an identifier for research projects and activities.

For physical samples

Unique identification of physical samples collected during the course of research will facilitate sharing of samples and sample-based data. The International Geo Sample Number (IGSN) is a unique identifier that preserves the identity of a sample even as it is moved from lab to lab and as data appear in different publications. The IGSN system facilitates the location, identification, and citation of physical samples used in research.  Read more about IGSN and best practice on how to use it.

For syndication between repositories

Research Data Australia (RDA) makes extensive use of a range of identifiers. Persistent Identifiers (PIDs) enhance metadata syndication and identification of the same resource between RDA and data repositories from one hundred Australian research organisations, government agencies, and cultural institutions.

PIDs also enable interoperability between Research Data Australia and other international initiatives such as Scholix - a framework for exchanging information about the links between scholarly literature and data.

Your data & software citation toolkit

We've put together a list of handy guides and tools to help you ensure you're always up to date on best practices for using identifiers and citations.