R & D project

A national persistent identifier research strategy

Delivering sector-wide cost savings through improved automation and technical integration.

A researcher studies a computer screen.


Expected outcome:


A strategy coordinated across the UK academic research community to promote wider adoption of persistent identifiers by institutions, funders, and researchers, as well as improved reporting mechanisms to better assess the impact of research.  

Why are persistent identifiers (PIDs) important?

PIDs are a long-lasting reference to a digital resource. They’re an essential element of global research data infrastructures, central to building and maintaining reliable and robust links between people, communities and infrastructures. PIDs can:

  • Help to deliver a range of policy priorities and align and join up work across the drive to deliver them
  • Save time and money and boost the return on investments in research
  • Provide a means for the UK to maintain its competitive advantage in the hyper-connected global research landscape
  • Provide a means of strengthening information systems against future shocks and the risk of information loss

In an age of global research collaboration, open, sustainable, international information systems are vital both for the trustworthiness of our research network and for our ability to analyse and adapt strategically

Developing a national PID strategy

“Jisc to lead on selecting and promoting a range of unique identifiers, including ORCID, in collaboration with sector leaders with relevant partner organisations.”

Professor Adam Tickell, Open access to research: independent advice

In response to Professor Tickell's recommendation, Jisc commissioned the report Developing a persistent identifier roadmap for open access to UK research (pdf) (July 2019, revised April 2020). This proposed the outline of a national PID strategy and identified five high priority persistent identifiers that could be used for improving access to UK research. These “priority PIDs” are:

Building on that report, Research England funded Jisc to lead on the UK PIDs for Open Access project. This project aimed at expanding adoption and usage of persistent identifiers in the UK by working with the community effort, to establish a national PID strategy involving all stakeholders. A stakeholder group was formed early in the project, with representatives from all disciplines and sectors — funders, HEIs, infrastructure providers, libraries, publishers, researchers, research managers, and more. The selection of the five priority PIDs and the national strategic approach to PID adoption and use was validated by this group.

Find out more about the discussions in the following blog posts:

Outcomes, recommendations and governance

The UK PIDs for Open Access Project and follow on work has produced a number of important outputs and recommendations, and established a governance group.

PID Support Network

The Business case for investment in a UK PID strategy identified a number of activities required to drive forward the PID agenda. One of these is to “Create a consortial network to lower barriers to and costs of PID adoption”. This phase focusses on business planning and a roadmap to establish a dedicated team of technical, educational, and communications specialists hosted at a trusted UK institution – the PID Support Network.

Research Identifier National Coordinating Committee (RINCC)

Tracking the impact of a national strategy requires ownership from major stakeholders, in particular funders, and governance structures to be put in place. The RINCC has been established to provide governance and community accountability.

The UK’s RINCC will support the sustainability and growth of priority PID systems, helping to identify and deliver key integrations of PID services and associated metadata for the UK research ecosystem, with a focus on tangible, quantifiable benefits. As a national group, the RINCC will collate and reflect the needs of all UK stakeholders in open research on the global stage, via a coherent national strategy for fair, reliable, and accessible PID adoption.

The goals of the RINCC are to:

  • Provide strategic insights to shape the priorities and focus of PID-related activities and policies in the UK
  • Liaise with international PID providers and governance structures on behalf of the wider UK research community
  • Align PID integrations and developments across sectors to optimise interoperability for information exchange and re-use
  • Ensure that all individuals and organisations in the UK research community have equitable access to the PIDs they need to the maximum extent possible

Cost-benefit analysis report

While the benefits of adopting and using PIDs is clear, the stakeholders recommended a robust cost-benefit analysis should be undertaken to quantify the savings it could bring to the sector. In 2021, the cost-benefit analysis report called for sector-wide PID adoption in the UK and included a proposal to set up a national PID Support Network (PSN).

Following further work, specifically an analysis of the benefits of PID investment in the Australian academic sector, there have been a number of methodological improvements to the original analysis, including increasing the estimate of the number of times metadata is typically rekeyed.

Based on the improved approach, the estimate is that university researchers and administrators waste 55,000 person days per year unnecessarily rekeying metadata, at a financial cost to the sector of nearly £19 million.

Considering the cost of implementing the five priority PIDs with support from the PSN, the cost of the PSN itself, and accounting for benefits building over time as adoption increases, the estimate is a net saving to the UK higher education sector of over £45 million over a five-year period.

View the revised report

Business case for investment in a UK PID strategy

To show how important having a national PID strategy is for research, this report was produced to sum up the findings of the PID project work and calls for a national investment in activities to implement PIDs in alignment with the UK's strategic needs. The steps necessary to do this are:

  1. Create a consortial network to lower barriers to and costs of PID adoption
  2. Community education and promotion to drive adoption of PIDs to leverage network effects
  3. Understand critical information pathways between funders, institutions, and content publishers
  4. Establish technical and social requirements for systematic exchange and reuse of information across stakeholder groups

View the report.

"Recommendation 19: For the higher education sector, Jisc should lead on the creation of sector-wide groups responsible for overseeing the development and further integration of the research information ecosystem, including research management data."

— Professor Adam Tickell (July 2022), Independent Review of Research Bureaucracy

PID-optimised workflows

These workflows show a vision of a more efficient future where PIDs are used throughout the research lifecycle to enable automation, efficiency, new discovery tools, and analysis. The use of open PIDs throughout also supports greater transparency and reproducibility in research activities and communications.

Community discussions and a survey in 2020 helped to refine the expectations for these PIDs, and provided an additional set of priorities: the workflows in which the community felt increased use of PIDs would have the greatest impact. The MoreBrains team conducted a global consultation on how a ‘PID-optimised’ version of the priority workflows could operate and distilled the complex and diverse real-world processes uncovered during the consultation, into PID-focused, generic representations. These are:

  • Funding awards, from application to reporting and evaluation
  • Institutional research management
  • Content publication
  • Research data management and publication

View the workflows and download pdf versions

PID Support Network

The Business case for investment in a UK PID strategy identified a number of activities required to drive forward the PID agenda. One of these is to “Create a consortial network to lower barriers to and costs of PID adoption”. This phase focusses on business planning and a roadmap to establish a dedicated team of technical, educational, and communications specialists hosted at a trusted UK institution – the PID Support Network.

RAiD Registration Agency

Jisc is collaborating with the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) in developing a business plan and roadmap for a UK RAiD Registration Agency. As a member of the RAiD Advisory Group, Jisc is providing input into RAiD’s technical roadmap for the benefit of UK research. The ARDC RAiD roadmap includes the transition of RAiD to a global capability. Setting up a UK registration agency is part of this transition.

This work consists of two phases:

  1. Business planning and roadmap for a UK RAiD Registration Agency
  2. RAiD pathfinder projects to pilot RAiD in UK HEIs and research organisations

International PID work

National PID Strategy Working Group

(Dec 2021 – June 2023)

Jisc work on PIDs is focussed on the UK but PIDs are international and the work we’ve been doing is relevant internationally. With other countries working on their own national PID strategy or approach, how can we coordinate and align different national PID strategies and bring together international PID experts? The Research Data Alliance (RDA) has a large global membership and the UK membership is the second largest after the USA. To enable coordination and community discussion, a National PID Strategies Working Group has been established to deliver the following:

  • Coordinate and align different national PID strategies and bring together PID experts to support the group
  • Map common activities across national agencies/efforts and produce a guide on the specific PIDs adopted in the context of national PID strategies
  • Agree PID categories and define common metadata and standards for PIDs
  • Agree a minimal set of PIDs for international interoperability
  • Include example ideas on governance and common workflows
  • Show the benefits from having a national PID strategy and adopting priority PIDs and the investment requirements

The main deliverables are the “how to” guide and case studies from different countries using a standard template.

Stay up to date

Follow our progress with this project on our blog.

Visit the project blog.

Our project partners

  • MoreBrains Cooperative logo

Meet the project team

  • Christopher Brown

    Product manager
  • Tamsin Burland headshot

    Tamsin Burland

    Head of product
  • Adam Vials Moore

    Adam Vials Moore

    Product specialist - persistent identifiers

Project outputs

  1. PID-optimised workflows: A vision of a more efficient futureView the workflows
  2. The case for investment in a UK persistent identifier strategy: Resilience, insight, and leadership in global research and innovationRead the case for investment
  3. UK PID Consortium: cost-benefit analysisRead the cost-benefit analysis report
  4. Developing a persistent identifier roadmap for open access to UK research (revised April 2020)Read the roadmap report (PDF)