10 Sports Science Data Things: Thing 7

Thing 7: Identifiers for data and people

What are DOIs and ORCIDs? These unique identifiers support data citation, metrics for data and related research objects, disambiguation of people, accurate attribution and impact metrics. The FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) data management principles highlight the necessity of rich metadata (see Thing 10), high quality open file formats, and use of persistent identifiers such as DOIs and ORCID.  Having these elements in place allows for both sharing and long term preservation.

Why does the identifier need to be persistent?

When you publish online, other researchers will access it through a link. If the link doesn't work, they won't be able to do this. And normally—especially if what you're publishing is your research—you don't want the link to work just for a few months: people will be citing your research for years, and you expect people to get to your output in five years time the same way they will in five days time. This means it needs to be managed for long term access.

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DOI's are unique (just like you)

Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are unique identifiers that provide persistent access to published articles, datasets, software versions and a range of other research inputs and outputs. There are over 120 million Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) in use, and last year DOIs were “resolved” (clicked on) over 5 billion times!

Each DOI is unique but a typical DOI looks like this: http://doi.org/10.4225/08/50F62E0D359D5

DOIs can be used to collect citation metrics about the use of a dataset or article.

  1. Start by watching this short 4.5min video Persistent identifiers and data citation explained from Research Data Netherlands. It gives you a succinct, clear explanation of how DOIs underpin data citation.
  2. Have a look at the poster Building a culture of data citation (also shown below) - follow the arrows to see how DOIs are attached to data sets.


  1. Let’s go to a data record which shows how DOIs are used. Click on this DOI to ‘resolve’ the DOI and take us to the record: http://dx.doi.org/10.4225/22/55BAE9DBD9670 (Population Health data collection for the City of Greater Bendigo).

    The same record has been syndicated to Research Data Australia. Click on the DOI at the bottom of the page, under ‘Identifiers’. No matter where the DOI appears it always resolves back to its original dataset record to avoid duplication. i.e. many records, one copy.


If you have time: Want to know more about DOIs? Flick through the ANDS DOI Guide page

Consider: should DOIs be routinely applied to all research outputs? Remember that DOIs carry an expectation of persistence (maintenance costs etc.) but can be used to collect metrics as well as link articles and data (evidence of impact).

Getting to know ORCID

What about identifiers for people? Think about the many forms a person’s name may take or common names. Is the author JK Rowling the same person as Joanne Rowling and Jo Rowling? More than 38,000 Americans have the name James Smith!

Universities, funders and publishers worldwide now use ORCID to differentiate between people with the same name by assigning individuals with a unique identifier.

1. Let’s start by going to ORCID. In the search box at the very top of the page, enter John David Burton to search the ORCID registry. Scan the list of results to find the entry for John David Burton. How many versions of his name do you see?

2. Now enter David J Bishop into the search box. Open his ORCID record to see a wonderful example of a rich ORCID record. Note he has integrated his Scopus Author IDs with his ORCID to enable it to capture everything indexed in Scopus.  Scroll through his list of works and look closely at Source to see the wide range of sources of his publications.

You can now choose from 3 activities that will get you in touch with ORCID.

Option 1. Don’t have an ORCID record but would like one?

Use this time to create your ORCID profile and make it as complete as possible.

  1. Visit ORCID and follow steps 1 and 2.
  2. When you’re done, add your ORCID iD to your email signature, LinkedIn profile and blog
  3. Send your new ORCID iD to a colleague and ask for some feedback on your profile

Option 2. Already have an ORCID?

When was the last time you logged in to update or enhance your profile? You may be surprised at the additional functionality now available.

  1. Read Alice Meadow’s blog post Six Things to do now you have an ORCID iD
  2. Now go to your ORCID profile and update it to be as current and complete as possible
  3. When you’re done, add your ORCID to your email signature, LinkedIn profile and blog
  4. Consider using the new QR code feature for your ORCID iD in new and unchartered ways

For more information on the benefits of having an ORCID iD and how to import your research output into it check our ORCID LibGuide

Consider how ORCID can be used to enhance your online profile?


Nir Eynon's Twitter account

David Bishop's Twitter account

Indentifiers and linked data

Challenge me: Identifiers and linked data

Identifiers are an important component of research data management. Computer applications use them for identifying datasets, for searching and retrieval, and for linking or connecting data.  In this 'Thing' we have looked at Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) for identifying data and at ORCIDs for identifying people. So, how do identifiers fit with Linked Data?

The term Linked Data refers to a set of best practices for publishing and connecting structured data on the Web.  Identifiers are an important component of Linked Data as URIs (or Universal Resource Identifiers), along with HTTP and RDF (Resource Description Framework) are the key technologies that underpin Linked Data. What is Linked Data and the Semantic Web and what is all the hype about?

1. Start by reading an introduction to these concepts from LinkedDataTools.

2. Have a go at completing some or all of the 5 short (5 min) Semantic Web Primer tutorials:

  1. Introducing Graph Data
  2. Introducing RDF
  3. Semantic Modeling
  4. Introducing RDFS & OWL
  5. Querying Semantic Data

If you have time:  Try out the free online RDF data validator in Tutorial 4 to describe research objects.

Consider: how these tools could be used to support linked data