Frequently Asked Questions

How do I obtain an IGSN?

Individuals can obtain IGSNs for their samples from one of the IGSN Agents.

Organisations planning to register IGSNs should contact DataCite for more information.

How do IGSN IDs make my samples more FAIR?

By using IGSN IDs as globally unique and web-resolvable persistent identifiers, samples become part of the global network of persistent identifiers used in research. Assigning IGSN IDs makes samples more Findable through the literature and global catalogues. It lays the foundation for the Accessibility of sample information, its Interoperability with other research information infrastructures, and the Reuse of sample information, associated data, and potentially also sample materials.

Can I use my existing sample IDs as IGSNs?

Generally, existing sample IDs can be reused. Adding a DOI prefix transforms them from local to global uniqueness. In addition to global uniqueness, IGSN IDs are also web resolvable.

My collection already uses unique IDs for samples. Why should I use IGSN IDs?

Sample numbers in a collection are generally unique, but only in the context of the collection. There might be other samples with the same ID in other collections. The EarthChem database, for instance, has more than 140 records with a local sample ID "M1".  IGSN IDs are guaranteed to be globally unique.

Aren't UUIDs globally unique?

UUIDs are globally unique by design but are not web resolvable because they do not have an associated resolving mechanism. Due to their length, UUIDs are unsuitable for use on sample labels that need to be read or transcribed by humans. 

Why are IGSN IDs now DOIs?

IGSN IDs started out as Handle IDs because the DOI system was not ready for the use case envisaged by Kerstin Lehnert and the co-creators of the IGSN ID. As part of the IGSN 2040 Project, the IGSN Organisation reviewed its operations and came to the conclusion that for the sustainability of the IGSN into the future, it needed to partner with another organisation. In 2021, the IGSN Organisation and DataCite announced a strategic partnership to support the global adoption, implementation, and use of physical sample identifiers. 

Why should my organisation become a member of the IGSN Organisation if we are already a member of DataCite?

The IGSN Organisation provides the community working with physical a forum for disciplinary communities to develop best practices for the identification and description of physical samples and the mapping of disciplinary sample-specific metadata to  DataCite metadata.

Membership in the IGSN Organisation gives your organisation and your disciplinary community working with physical samples a voice in DataCite.

The IGSN Organisation works with DataCite to provide a globally recognised persistent identifier for sample identification and tracking that facilitates the efficient sharing of samples and their associated metadata among researchers, institutions, and databases. The strategic partnership is governed through the IGSN DataCite Partnership Steering Group.