Scaling Physical Sample Identifiers across all Research Domains within the Research Ecosystem

Jens Klump1, Kerstin Lehnert2, Sarah Ramdeen3, Lesley Wyborn4

1CSIRO, Kensington, WA, Australia

2Columbia University, Palisades, New York, USA

3Ronin Institute, Huntsville, Alabama, USA

4Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia


Samples taken from nature or produced in laboratory experiments have always been at the heart of scientific research. Over the past two centuries, we have collected hundreds of millions of samples, and we are still collecting more. However, while infrastructures for scientific literature and data have evolved into a networked and searchable research information ecosystem, online access to sample information has lagged way behind and often we cannot even unambiguously identify which samples were the basis of which dataset and publication.

In the geosciences, the International Geo Sample Number Implementation Organization (IGSN e.V.) has built a persistent identifier and catalogue infrastructure that gives access to millions of sample records. The underlying infrastructure can be used in other science disciplines such as biology, archaeology, materials science, etc. To be able to scale this infrastructure to billions of samples, interconnected with a comparable number of datasets and their related publications, requires a redesign of both the organisational model and technical architecture of current persistent identifier infrastructures. Growing the scale of persistent identifier systems also needs coordination across the key identifier systems such as ORCID, DataCite, Crossref, etc. This contribution will present the present state of the discussion on how to link physical samples to the research ecosystem and the record of science, and to ensure attribution to those who originally collected the sample.


Jens Klump is a geochemist by training and Geoscience Analytics Team Leader in the Mineral Resources unit of CSIRO. Jens holds a PhD in Marine Geology from the University of Bremen in Germany. His involvement in the development of publication and citation of research data through Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) sparked further work on research data infrastructures. Jens’ current work focuses on data in minerals exploration, both from a data analysis and from a data logistics perspective. Jens is the Vice-President of the IGSN e.V. and the Vice-President of the Earth and Space Sciences Division of the European Geosciences Union.


AeRO is the industry association focused on eResearch in Australasia. We play a critical coordination role for our members, who are actively transforming research via Information Technology. Organisations join AeRO to advance their own capabilities and services, to collaborate and to network with peers. AeRO believes researchers and the sector significantly benefit from greater communication, coordination and sharing among the increasingly different and evolving service providers.

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