An Intergalactic Federation of PID Providers?

Author: Frances Madden and Torsten Reimer, British Library

Persistent identifiers (PIDs) are a key component of the global research environment. While some PID services have made fantastic advancements, the persistent identifier environment overall is still far from being sustainable and mature. The EU-funded FREYA project is a community effort to grow and sustain the global PID infrastructure. Now in its last year, the project is focusing on improving coordination and sustainability across PIDs in the research environment.

At the international PID conference PIDapalooza 2020, a group of 30 representatives from persistent identifier service providers, funders, policy makers, publishers, libraries, repositories and, of course, FREYA partners gathered for breakfast to discuss the idea of creating a new organisation or community initiative, as yet unnamed, but with the working title of ‘Intergalactic Federation of PID Service Providers’.


Intergalactic PIDs


Following on from discussions within the FREYA community, the aim of the meeting was to assess whether such a community initiative was welcome and if now was the right time to explore this further. To stimulate the discussion, Torsten Reimer from the British Library, proposed potential tasks such an entity could focus on:

  • A forum for coordination across providers/communities
  • Represent community interests to funders and policymakers
  • Create consensus on and share best practice
  • Develop and certify a seal of best practice/certification for providers
  • Support emerging PID initiatives and advise on best practice
  • Consider gaps in the PID landscape and find resource to close them
  • Host sustainability and exit plans for PID providers
  • Long-term preservation of PID metadata


The origin of the meeting and the idea of a new organisation came from FREYA recognising the need to try and sustain governance and interaction between PID service providers. It also acknowledges that through creating new types of persistent identifiers, the landscape becomes more heterogeneous, making oversight of some form more desirable.

A lively discussion ensued with contributions from across the room. The proposal of improving coordination and governance, sharing best practice and representing PID interests outside our community had strong support, but it also became clear that as a community we do not currently have a full picture of the PID landscape globally and where coordinated effort would be most beneficial. The idea of whether any new organisation should be international or whether it would be better if it focused on individual regions, recognising different regulatory frameworks and states of maturity.

There was also some discussion about whether a formal organisation was needed or if improved coordination and better communications could be achieved through regular policy and governance tracks at gatherings such as PIDapalooza.

In conclusion, it was agreed that the FREYA project would undertake a landscaping and consultation exercise, to survey the current situation on the coverage of different existing organisations and consult widely with stakeholders to develop options for a potential PID community initiative/organisation. Preparations are underway for recruiting a consultant to conduct this work together with the FREYA team, with the intention to produce a report by or before the end of summer 2020. We will keep the community updated through the FREYA blog and If you have any questions, please contact