Home FAIR Principles F1: (Meta) data are assigned globally unique and persistent identifiers

What does this mean?
Principle F1 is arguably the most important because it will be hard to achieve other aspects of FAIR without globally unique and persistent identifiers. Hence, compliance with F1 will already take you a long way towards publishing FAIR data (see 10 ways identifiers can help with data integration).

Globally unique and persistent identifiers remove ambiguity in the meaning of your published data by assigning a unique identifier to every element of metadata and every concept/measurement in your dataset. In this context, identifiers consist of an internet link (e.g., a URL that resolves to a web page that defines the concept such as a particular human protein). Many data repositories will automatically generate globally unique and persistent identifiers to deposited datasets. Identifiers can help other people understand exactly what you mean, and they allow computers to interpret your data in a meaningful way (i.e., computers that are searching for your data or trying to automatically integrate them). Identifiers are essential to the human-machine interoperation that is key to the vision of Open Science. In addition, identifiers will help others to properly cite your work when reusing your data.

Of course, identifiers are one thing, but their meaning is another (see principles I1-I3). F1 stipulates two conditions for your identifier:

  1. It must be globally unique (i.e., someone else could not reuse/reassign the same identifier without referring to your data). You can obtain globally unique identifiers from a registry service that uses algorithms guaranteeing the uniqueness of newly minted identifiers.
  2. It must be persistent. It takes time and money to keep web links active, so links tend to become invalid over time. Registry services guarantee resolvability of that link into the future, at least to some degree.

Examples of globally unique and persistent identifiers

Example services that supply globally unique and persistent identifiers