November 10, 2004 Berlin, Germany

19th International CODATA Conference

Digital Object Identifiers for scientific data

Norman Paskin has published an article regarding the use of Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) for scientific data. A description of the NamesforLife system is given on page 7.

The aim of this project is “future-proofing biological nomenclature”; it proposes DOIs as persistent identifiers of taxonomic definitions. A name ascribed to a given group in a biological taxonomy is fixed in both time and scope and may or may not be revised when new information is available.

The NamesforLife project is developing a model for assigning DOIs to prokaryotic taxa as a test case. Though the definition of a taxon may be refined and its nomenclature redefined, the DOI will persist, leaving a forward-pointing trail that can be used to reliably locate digital and physical resources, even when a name may be deemed obsolete. Forward linking from a synonym to a record of the publication that asserts synonymy is especially important, as there is currently no mandatory mechanism for asserting and resolving names that become ambiguous.

The model seeks to strengthen the association of names with taxa by using DOIs to track the taxonomic definition of a name over time. It is extensible to the level of individual genes within a given species. However, the real power of this method lies in the ability of DOIs to become embedded in the information environment, providing a direct and persistent link to the full record of taxonomic and nomenclatural revision and ensuring consistency and accuracy throughout online scientific resources. A DOI-based infrastructure for formally associating nomenclature with taxonomy enables a name to be used unambiguously and persistently, only one mouse-click away from a record of its current definition and historical development.

Paskin, N. Digital Object Identifiers for scientific data; 2005. Data Science Journal 4:12-20.

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[permalink] Posted November 10, 2004.

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