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  • Group Focus: Data Management
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  • Group Description

    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 a 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.

    Past and current activities

    The WG collected use cases for persistent identification of instruments, aligned the collected metadata, and developed a metadata schema. The schema is available on GitHub at https://github.com/rdawg-pidinst/schema and has been an RDA Recommendation since March 2022 (https://doi.org/10.15497/RDA00070). The WG also maintains a White Paper with updated and additional technical information (https://docs.pidinst.org). Aligned with the PIDINST metadata schema, GWDG developed an instrument registry, which you may consider using to describe your instruments and obtain a PID for them (https://b2inst.gwdg.de). The WG continues to maintain the metadata schema and support its adoption in communities such as the German National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI).


    Please cite the RDA PIDINST WG’s work and output using the following reference:

    Stocker, M., Darroch, L., Krahl, R., Habermann, T., Devaraju, A., Schwardmann, U., D’Onofrio, C., & Häggström, I. (2020). Persistent Identification of Instruments. In Data Science Journal (Vol. 19). Ubiquity Press, Ltd. https://doi.org/10.5334/dsj-2020-018

  • Group Email

  • Group Type: Working Group
  • Group Status: recognised-and-endorsed
  • Co-Chair(s): Louise Darroch, Markus Stocker, Rolf Krahl, Ted Habermann

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