The treasure hunt of ScienceSoft Persistent Identifiers

13 Jan 2013 Geneva - Have you ever followed a reference for an article that eventually turned out to be unavailable? Have you always thought that experiment data or research results should be permanently accessible? If so, you would very likely be interested in the latest news on the actual status of software and digital information issues, and you shouldn't miss the Workshop on ScienceSoft Persistent Identifiers (SPID2013) organized by the European Middleware Initiative (EMI) together with its ScienceSoft (Open Software for Open Science) project on the 30th of January 2013 at CERN.

ScienceSoft is a community-enabler, working on providing the necessary one-stop-shop tools (software, catalogues, statistics, reference citation systems, marketplaces, technical services links, platform integration supports, etc.). It allows researchers and open source software developers from scientific communities to interact with each other within and beyond their area of expertise and contribute to the establishment of global knowledge networks in science.

"ScienceSoft allows taking decisions based on information shared and verified by a large community of experts, for developers to share their software, researchers to get the needed support, companies to offer services, and sponsors to assess the projects' impact", stated Alberto Di Meglio, EMI project director and leader of the ScienceSoft activities. "This EMI initiative aims to simplify the complex relationship among experts (developers, users, service providers, research communities, commercial companies, etc.) working in different computing and data environments (Grid, Cloud, volunteer computing, High-Performance Computing, etc.)."

The aim of the SPID2013 Workshop is to bring together experts in the field of digital information and identification of digital objects (software, data, publications, etc.) to look at the current status of specification, implementations, policies, schemas and trends. In particular, discussions will focus on the current status of persistent identifiers for software objects and their relationship with other digital objects.

The need for persistent identifiers, namely maintainable identifiers allowing users to refer to a digital object, such as an e-print article, an image, a dataset or an installation file for a piece of software, appeared in the early World Wide Web days. Originally, URLs, specifying particular locations or servers, were understood to be network locations for digital resources to be retrieved, like a web page. So, the URL could be given to others to access the resource. If the way the data was accessed didn't change, there was no problem. However, this procedure proved to be unreliable because in the long term URLs often do not work anymore.

When research results are published on-line by an institution, users expect that the results will be well-managed (for example, avoiding data loss or having web domain expirations). However, this can still happen even if the results are well-maintained, because a 'traditional' URL cannot be relied on to provide ongoing access to that resource. So, on-line data management relies more on persistent identifiers for the data, so that it continues to provide information about 'what it identifies', no matter where it is stored and it is along its life cycle. In fact, a persistent identifier can obtain information about a resource, even if the resource is no longer on-line. A persistent identifier can be resolved to an appropriate resource's representation and can be updated when the resource changes location or goes offline. In other words, a persistent identifier continues to give intelligent information about a single object being identified, whatever happens to that object and users should be able to find out about the resource, only having the identifier for the resource.

Attending the ScienceSoft Persistent Identifiers Workshop will give you the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing efforts to integrate software information in digital knowledge networks and define what is required to make it happen.

For details about the workshop, you can visit


Source: European Middleware Initiative - EMI