Persistent Identifiers

Your data always findable

Persistent Identifiers (PIDs) ensure that your objects, such as research data, can always be found and remain so. PIDs can be compared to an ISBN number for books. Even if the location or underlying infrastructure changes, the reference remains intact.
Vrouw in archief


Make your data FAIR

Make your research data findable and accessible for the sake of reproducibility of research and reuse of scientific data.


With our service, you can create as many PIDs as you need for one flat fee per year. So you can prioritise FAIR practice without spending a lot of money.

Customised advice

If you use PIDs, you can call on our support. For example, we can help you create PIDs and advise you on how to make your data as findable as possible.

Do you have a question about Persistent Identifiers? Get in touch.

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Servicedesk Data & Computing Services


PIDs in brief

What are PIDs and why should you use them? A video from FAIRsFAIR EU.

Always findable

Data belonging to a particular publication may be housed in different data centres and captured on different media. Moreover, storage locations may change. One of the most important functions of a PID is that it has a fixed reference to the underlying data, wherever it is located. Even if the storage location or physical form changes.

How it works.

  • We use the Corporation for National Research Initiatives' (CNRI) open handle software as the underlying structure.
  • PIDs consist of a prefix and a suffix that together form a unique string for each PID. You can request the prefix, the first part of the code, from SURF. The prefix is your property. Under one prefix, you can generate as many suffixes as you want for one fixed amount.
  • We act as host of the PIDs. This means that we store the object location and/or metadata of each PID. The PIDs are replicated both internally at SURF and externally through the ePIC consortium to ensure persistence and availability.
  • You can create, edit, search and delete PIDs. This can be done via an HTTPS-based RESTful interface API, python library or UI.
  • The PID resolver can be accessed via an HTTP interface. This allows anyone to use their browser or the curl command to retrieve and view PIDs.

Do it yourself or via SURF

  • An external party can link software (e.g. collection management systems) to our PID service for easy integration and administration of PIDs.
  • Data stewards at your institution can manage PIDs via our API, supported python library or UI (this requires some programming knowledge).
  • Add PIDs to your datasets through our integrations with other SURF services such as SURF Data Repository or Yoda Hosting.

Remember that you remain responsible for the integrity of the PIDs and associated data objects, especially if your data is moved or updated. Your data manager should ensure that PID references remain up-to-date.

Customised advice

If you use PIDs, you can count on our support. For instance, we can help you create PIDs and advise you on how to make your data as findable as possible. To determine which PID system is most suitable for your situation, you can use the Digital Heritage Network's PID guide.