Bringing together communities: IGSN and DataCite

DataCite and IGSN are pleased to announce their roadmap towards a partnership that intends to support the global adoption, implementation, and use of physical sample identifiers.  This collaboration is aligned with our respective missions and brings together the strengths of each organization for the benefit of the research community.  

DataCite is a community-led organisation with a vision to connect research and identify knowledge.  We have been providing the means to create, find, cite, connect, and use research across 47 countries globally since 2009.  In addition to DataCite core services, we support the scaling efforts of  several identifier communities through governance, sustainability, insurance, and technical implementation.   

IGSN e.V. is an international, non-profit organization with more than 20 members, which has operated a central registration system for IGSNs since 2011. The IGSN is a globally unique and persistent identifier for physical samples. The core purpose of IGSN is to enable transparent and traceable connections between research activities and objects, including samples, collections, instruments, grants, data, publications, people and organizations.  

IGSN scaling diagram

Scaling through partnership To support continued growth, in 2018 IGSN launched the IGSN 2040 project, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, to create a strategic plan and roadmap for evolving its technical platform and governance structure, and professionalizing its current largely volunteer operations. The primary finding was that IGSN should focus on community engagement, development of sample identifier practice standards, and encouraging adoption through third-party implementations and platforms, while partnering with a complementary organization to provide scalable and sustained IGSN registration services and technical infrastructure.

Earlier this year, IGSN e.V. members voted to proceed with development of a formal operational agreement with DataCite. In this arrangement, IGSN registration services would be offered through DataCite, and IGSN will develop a community engagement infrastructure to support practice adoption and evolution of samples discovery service. DataCite will offer IGSN organizational stability through back-office capabilities, membership support, continuity of service, and a technology stack that supports usage tracking.    

DataCite has experience with samples, having supported registration of over 1.2 million PhysicalObject identifiers by its members. To this will be added 9.8 million identifiers minted by IGSN.  Going forward, IGSN e.V could utilize existing DataCite APIs and services including draft identifiers; agent metadata catalogs; IGSN resolution using the globally-distributed network; IGSN handle aliasing to DataCite DOIs; and IGSN handle data migration to CNRI servers. IGSN e.V. brings a future-facing technical model, expertise supporting large-volume identifier registrations, and deep sample community roots. 

Common purpose and next steps IGSN and DataCite have a common purpose, and a close relationship in the future can provide mutual benefit to our shared vision of connecting research and identifying knowledge.  

Over the next several months, we will be working together to define the specific details of the operational agreement and working with our respective governance groups. Our intention is to conclude an agreement during Q3 2021 and work with the relevant stakeholders on the transition by the end of 2021.  We welcome your input!  You can track progress here, on the DataCite blog. Please contact us via should you have any questions.

Matthew Buys
Matt Buys
Executive Director at DataCite | Blog posts
Kerstin Lehnert
President at IGSN e.V. | Blog posts