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What are Persistent Identifiers (PIDs) and how can you use them?

In our final blog post to mark¬†International Open Access Week 2021, we aim to explain what is mean by Persistent Identifiers (PIDs), why they are important, and how you can use them as a researcher to ensure your research is better indexed and identified to you as the creator.¬† We expand upon the introduction to PIDs given in Monday’s ‘What is Open Research?’ post

Persistent identifiers (PIDs) aim to be a unique long-lasting reference to digital objects of various types, and are are a core element of open research.  They mainly fall into two categories, PIDS for people, and PIDs for objects. URLs are examples of an identifier, as are serial numbers, and personal names, but these are often not permanent, stable, or unique. PIDs were invented to address challenges arising from the expanding internet which is constantly changing and makes it hard to maintain a persistence record of digital objects.

PIDs are labels that locate, identify and share information about digital objects, because a PID may be connected to a set of metadata describing an object rather than to the object itself. They allow different platforms to exchange information consistently and unambiguously and thus provide a reliable way to track citations and reuse.

Using PIDs facilitates the discoverability and citation of your research and makes your research FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable.

ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID)


ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier (an ORCID iD) that you own and control, and that distinguishes you from every other researcher. You can connect your iD with your professional information ‚ÄĒ affiliations, grants, publications, peer review, and more. You can use your iD to share your information with other systems, ensuring you get recognition for all your contributions, saving you time and hassle, and reducing the risk of errors.”¬†https://orcid.org/

Your ORCID allows you to store together all your research outputs within your account, and share them between platforms.  The VRE is now able to push data to, or receive data from, your central ORCID account.

If you sign up to, or connect an existing ORCID account, this should help to reduce workload in relation to managing your publications.  Benefits include:

  • Distinguish yourself, and remove any ambiguation over your name
  • Remove duplicate data entry.¬†Some funders, publishers, and other institutions use ORCID to populate data.
  • Meet requirements of some funders and publishers
  • Make it easier to move your publications between institutions, as your record will go with you throughout your academic career

Further information, and a list of FAQs is available in the ORCID Integration with the VRE post.

A guide on how to register or link your VRE and ORCID accounts is available in the VRE.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier)


You may have noticed DOIs for online journal articles.  The link for them will normally begin with https://doi.org/10.nnnnnn.  A DOI is a unique and never-changing string assigned to journal articles, books, and other works online. DOIs make it easier to retrieve works, which is why citation styles, like APA and MLA Style, recommend including them in citations.  If a journal changes publisher, the DOI will remain the same, and the link will still take a reader to the paper, wherever it is hosted.

DOIs make sure that each published article gets a unique, permanent identifier and can be cited easily.  This can increase the visibility of the published work.

We can create DOIs for items within the VRE if they are published by the University of Westminster e.g. reports, or portfolios.  However we cannot create them for outputs published by external bodies even if the publisher does not create a DOI for an output.  You can find out how to create a DOI in the VRE for your research outputs and research data.  Please email repository@westminster.ac.uk if you would like more advice before doing so.

ROR (Research Organization Registry)


A unique identifier for every research organization in the world.

The University of Westminster’s ROR ID:¬†https://ror.org/04ycpbx82

Other University of Westminster Institutional IDs

GRID grid.12896.34
ISNI 0000000090468598
Crossref Funder ID 501100001319
Wikidata Q1247544


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