PIDapalooza 2018: A PID for everything and everything in its PID

Author: the FREYA team

The second PIDapalooza Festival, co-organised by California Digital Library, Crossref, DataCite, and ORCID, took place from 23-24 January 2018 in Girona, Spain, with 180+ participants from 23 countries and six continents. FREYA team members were there, and lots of the discussions were relevant for the project. Here we report on just a few points of interest - most presentations are available via the Figshare repository.


As a festival for persistent identifiers PIDapalooza has a great buzz and welcoming air. Organised in three parallel sessions, apart from the opening and three plenaries, most sessions left plenty of room for questions and discussion, and there was enough time for informal chats during coffee breaks and lunch. Living up to its music festival-inspired name there was music in between sessions (the Spotify playlist is still available from here), a PID nail art and tattoo bar, and more fun stuff (glow sticks!). All of this created an open and lively atmosphere that made it easy to engage in discussions and meet new people. Why can’t all conferences be like this?


Some of the main themes and questions of the meeting programme included: PIDs for emerging uses - which additional use cases need PIDs?; how to manage the usage of old identifier systems in the modern data citation ecosystem; how to optimise interoperability of heterogeneous PID systems; and how to engage with the wider community to improve PID adoption.


Two of the plenary speakers, both from the life sciences, highlighted the challenges of managing big, dynamic and highly connected data, and of reusing those data to answer biological questions. Jo McEntyre (EBI-EMBL) gave the plenary on the first day, examining the challenges around building a coherent and functional PID infrastructure in the midst of a complex research ecosystem that is constantly growing in scale and diversity. At the end of her talk Jo introduced the FREYA project and its partners, mission and goals (slides here). The second plenary, by Melissa Haendel (Oregon Health & Science University) ‘Equivalence is in the (ID) of the beholder’ discussed, among other topics, the importance of PIDs in making data FAIR – findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable – and extended this to FAIR-TLC: traceable, licensed and connected (slides here).


Jo's plenary 2

 Jo McEntyre (EBI-EMBL) giving her plenary


Active discussions about PIDs also happened on Twitter, although confusion about the correct hashtag for the meeting (#PIDapalooza or #PIDapalooza18) ironically illustrated the importance of consistent identifier use. Martin Fenner (DataCite) fittingly summed up a major topic of discussion by tweeting the question whether we need persistent identifiers for everything, and what PIDs are essential, or just nice to have.


Emerging persistent identifiers discussed included those for conferences, grants, projects, scientific instruments, study registrations and citations themselves. The needs expressed for each of these entities to be persistently identified range from trust and transparency in research, to metrics,  acknowledgement, discovery, and sometimes all of the above. FREYA will be keeping a keen eye on the developing persistent identifiers for all kinds of entities relevant to research. This is particularly true of on-going discussions around identifiers for organizations.


In terms of emerging PIDs, identifiers for organizations are developing at a particularly keen pace, with a community meeting prior to PIDapalooza as well as updates and sessions throughout the festival itself. Convened by Crossref, DataCite, ORCID and the California Digital Library, the community meeting aimed to kick-start the governance structures that will form the foundations of a body that is able to provide identifiers for organisations (see more at The results of that meeting will be available imminently, so look out for further blog posts on that in the near future.


Back to PIDapalooza, several talks addressed the importance of engaging the wider community, in particular researchers and research organizations, to ensure widespread PID adoption. Angelina Kraft (TIB) presented the results of a survey across scientists in the natural sciences and engineering across Germany, revealing that although more than 70% of researchers are using DOIs for publications, less than 10% use DOIs for research data, mainly because they don’t know that the latter is an option. Simon Porter (Digital Science) emphasized that PIDs are social as well as technical and presented Digital Sciences’ ‘Research Information Citizenship’ campaign. Laura Wilkinson and Alice Meadows (ORCID) focused on a practical approach in their interactive session ‘Anticipation, Action, Awareness: A PID Communications Template for All’, where they guided the audience to work in groups to think about a communication strategy for different types of PIDS.


Awareness and adoption of persistent identifiers is a cornerstone of the FREYA project, and through our Ambassadors and training materials, we will be spreading the word - and adoption of - PIDs widely over the coming three years.


In general, the questions and discussions during the meeting were very constructive and it appeared that “PID wars” are a thing of the past. PIDapalooza brings together an emerging community, helping us all to identify our common goal: making research frictionless to facilitate scientific discovery, process and analysis. While there is wide variety in approaches and maturity of PID systems, the common thread was that people are taking very practical, use-case approaches, trying to solve problems. PIDapalooza provides a vital meeting place for the community to exchange and sharpen ideas, challenges and solutions. We’ll take many of those ideas home with us, and we’re already looking forward to next time - see you at the (nail) bar!


PIDapalooza group photo