Allocating Agent

An IGSN Agent is an institution that registers IGSN IDs.


An IGSN Community is a scientific community of practice, e.g. petrology, ocean sediments, critical zone, etc. The catalogue of samples registered by a community is made accessible through a community portal. The community also defines the IGSN Naming Convention and descriptive metadata for its samples.

IGSN Syntax

An International Generic Sample Number (IGSN) is a unique string created to identify a sample object online. The syntax guidelines are summarised on the IGSN wiki pages.

Metadata Profile and Schema

Due to the diversity of samples that IGSN tries to accommodate, including historic samples with a very limited set of available metadata, IGSN metadata comes in two sets: registration metadata and descriptive metadata. Registration metadata are used only to transmit the core metadata elements needed for the registration, resolution, and administration of the IGSN resolver service. Metadata for sample catalogues uses descriptive metadata. IGSN e.V. have defined a core descriptive metadata set, but community databases may define more specific metadata profiles used by the respective scientific communities.

The registration metadata schema can be downloaded from our code repository:

The metadata and schema are documented at

An IGSN Community can define a more detailed metadata application profile.

Registration Agency

IGSN registrations are sent to DataCite as the Registration Agency by the IGSN Agents. The Registration Agency keeps a record of all registered IGSN names and mints Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) for global resolution into URLs. Detailed descriptions of the data are kept by the Allocating agents and can be harvested into community portals for sample discovery and re-use.

Individual users should refer to IGSN Agents for registration of their samples.