Persistent Identification of Instruments WG


Group details

Secretariat Liaison:
TAB Liaison: 
Frankie Stevens
WGs Maintaining deliverables (maintenance group)

The Persistent Identification of Instruments Working Group seeks to explore a community-driven solution for globally unique identification of measuring instruments operated in the sciences.


Measuring instruments, such as sensors used in environmental science, DNA sequencers used in life sciences or laboratory engines used for medical domains, are widespread in most fields of applied sciences. The ability to link an active instrument (instance) with an instrument type and with the broader context in which the instrument operates (including generated data, other instruments and platforms, people and manufacturers, etc.) is critical, especially for automated processing of such contextual information and for the interpretation of generated data.


The identification and description of instrument models and instances is gaining momentum. Several disciplines are using established controlled vocabularies (standardised terms) to identify devices. Advances in Semantic Sensor Web technologies (encodings of sensor descriptions that are machine-readable and interoperable) have resulted in new instrument metadata schemas. Some Persistent Identifiers (PIDs), such as Universally Unique Identifiers (UUIDs) or Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are already being utilised.


Our group aims to build on these developments and establish a cross-discipline, operational solution for the unique and lasting identification of measuring instruments actively operated in the sciences.



  • Explore the use of a globally unique solution to persistently identify active measuring instruments
  • Recommend a metadata profile to describe instruments that harmonises existing identification standards and complements existing metadata schemas
  • Explore methodology/technology to register and resolve the new PID
  • Operationalise the solution by engaging existing PID infrastructure providers, instrument developers and manufacturers, as well as instrument database providers


Current activities


The WG collects use cases for persistent identification of instruments, aligns the collected metadata, and develops a metadata schema. 


The schema is available on GitHub at and we encourage comments from the community.


So far, we have obtained the following use cases (Last update: March 2019).

  1. GEOFON by Javier Quinteros (November 2017)
  2. HZB by Rolf Krahl (November 2017)
  3. NIF by Veah Tapat et al. (December 2017)
  4. IREA-CNR by Alessandro Oggioni et al. (January 2018)
  5. by Ana Macario et al. (April 2018)
  6. Marine SWE by Robert Huber et al. (May 2018)
  7. ORCID by Tom Demeranville (May 2018)
  8. ICOS Carbon Portal by Claudio D’Onofrio et al. (June 2018)
  9. BODC by Louise Darroch et al. (July 2018)
  10. ESO by Dominic Bordelon et al. (August 2018)
  11. FZJ Central Library (JLSRF) by Claudia Frick (September 2018)
  12. PANGAEA by Anusuriya Devaraju et al. (September 2018)
  13. EuroGOOS/PSMSL/GLOSS by Louise Darroch (October 2018)
  14. LTER-Europe by Alessandro Oggioni et al. (October 2018)
  15. UK Polar Data Centre by Alex Tate (February 2019)


Recent Activity

28 Nov 2019

Deadline For P15 Group Session Submissions Extended To 5 December 2019

Dear RDA members, 


RDA's 15th Plenary meeting, Melbourne, Australia, 18-20 March 2020 


The deadline to submit session proposals for Plenary 15 in Melbourne, Australia has been extended to 5 December 2019, midnight UTC.

12 Nov 2019

Deadline for P15 Group Session Submissions Fast Approaching

Dear Group Members, 

The deadline for group session submissions for Plenary 15 is 28 November 2019, midnight UTC – just two weeks away.

If your group is interested in submitting a session for a working group, interest group or joint meeting session, submissions will only be accepted from your group chairs, so be sure to coordinate with them to ensure proper communication of the submission.   

If you are a chair and submitting for a joint meeting session, all chairs involved in that joint session must be notified of the submission. 

24 Oct 2019

[FYI] A few updates

Dear all,
we had yesterday the group's wrap-up session at P14 in Helsinki and
with this the WG has transitioned into "maintenance mode". In the
short term we will work on finalizing the deliverables and in the long
run the group will work on adoption, in particular with institutional
instrument providers but also with PID infrastructures.
We have now published the P14 slides on the RDA website:

24 Oct 2019

Identifiers for instruments?

Hello all,
I look forward to working with this group to try to encourage and facilitate adoption of identifiers for instruments. During the discussions I think some existing examples of metadata for instrument identifiers were mentioned. i think some of these were from DataCite…? If my memory is correct, it would be great to pull together these examples to identify good examples that might help us with guidance materials.

09 Oct 2019

P14 Session Chair Update

In preparation for Plenary 14 in Helsinki, please refer to the information presented below pertaining to your breakout sessions.


Remote Participation

  • Remote participation will be available in each meeting room through GoToMeeting, which will be running from the laptop provided by the University. By just opening your presentation on this laptop, remote attendees will be able to view your slides and hear you speak.