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17 Sep 2020

Identifiers: Ensuring Robust and Reliable Access to Life Sciences Data

Since 2010, Identifiers.org has become an important tool for the annotation and cross-referencing of Life Science data, by introducing the concept of Compact Identifier (CID), a combination of a global prefix and a local accession, prefix:accession.


With increasing adoption of identifiers.org among journal editors, and a growing scientific users community, the EOSC Portal is the perfect launchpad for boosting FAIR awareness through identifiers.org key services.


Traditionally running on an EMBL-EBI production level datacenter over the last ten years, we have built and released a new cloud native identifiers.org platform, based on microservices architecture, for improved, more robust and reliable registry and compact identifier resolution services.

The tools

The Identifiers.org registry contains manually curated, high quality metadata for hundreds of data collections, with each assigned a unique namespace, which can be used as a prefix for human readable Compact Identifiers.


Other information stored includes a description of the data collection (the set of resources providing the data) and a formal definition of identifier pattern (allowing CID validation).


The Identifiers.org resolution system provides consistent access to Life Science data using CIDs, which are part of URIs, e.g. https://identifiers.org/pdb:2cg4, where information of a namespace and a local accession is combined and appended to that URL for accessing the CID resolution services.


These CIDs are human readable, prefix:accession, e.g. pdb:2cg4, which makes them an easy mechanism for citation and data annotation.


The resolving location of Compact Identifiers is determined using information that is stored in the Identifiers.org Registry.


When a Compact Identifier is presented to the Identifiers.org resolution service, redirection can be accomplished in either a resource specified or location independent (resource unspecified) manner.



The new cloud native Identifiers.org platform also delivers a new web frontend for accessing resolution services, which enables CID resolution in a visual manner, implementing a powerful auto-complete feature to guide the users through the construction of a Compact Identifier; 


Identifiers.org Resolution Services


Other features available include a new web frontend for the Central Registry, featuring a browser for the full catalog of registered prefixes, and an improved prefix and resource registration request process with as-you-write validation features, as well as  third party API integrations, e.g. ROR for organizational IDs. There are also new APIs to enable integration with 3rd party applications, such as a programmatic access to our resolution services, RESTful and custom registry APIs for enabling programmatic navigation through identifiers.org registry, as well as prefix and provider registration requests. 


Identifiers.org Central Registry Service


New and improved documentation material has also been produced for supporting our community on the use of this new system, including migration guidelines from the old identifiers.org platform.


Identifiers.org is now more modern, robust and reliable than ever before, reaching a wider audience through EOSC Portal. It is time for scientists to do the same for their research, to FAIRify their data by registering a namespace, and to start using identifiers.org Resolution Services, to cite and access Life Sciences research data.


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Identifiers.org registry and Identifiers.org resolution system services now!



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