Unlock your data

Creating value with identifiers in an open data world

Identifiers are at the heart of how data becomes linked. It’s a subject that is fundamentally important to the open data community and to the evolution of the web itself, yet is also in relatively early stages of understanding and adoption.

What are data identifiers?

Identifiers are simply labels used to refer to an object being discussed or exchanged, such as products, companies or people. The foundation of the web is formed by connections that hold pieces of information together. Identifiers are the anchors that facilitate those links.

This white paper is a joint effort between Thomson Reuters and the Open Data Institute. It is written as a guide to identifier schemes: why identity can be difficult to manage; why it is important for open data; what challenges there are today and recommendations for the community to address these in the future. Illustrative examples of identifier schemes are used to explain these points.

The recommendations are based on specific issues found to occur across different datasets, and should be relevant for anyone using, publishing or handling open data, closed data and their own proprietary data sets.

You’re a data consumer? Learn how identifiers can help you create value from discovering and connecting to other sources of data that add relevant context.

You’re a data publisher? Learn how understanding and engaging with identifier schemes can reduce your costs and help you manage complexity.

You’re an identifier publisher? Learn how open licensing can grow the open data commons and bring you value by increasing the use of your identifier scheme

The design and use of successful identifier schemes involves a mix of social, data and technical engineering. We hope that this white paper acts as a starting point for discussion about how identifiers can and will create value by empowering linked data.

When citing this white paper, please use the following text:
"Open Data Institute and Thomson Reuters, 2014, Creating Value with Identifiers in an Open Data World, Retrieved from http://thomsonreuters.com/data-identifiers"

Discussion and Commentary

Dave Weller, chief enterprise architect at Thomson Reuters, discusses the past, present and future of the web

As we move towards the web of data, if your data isn’t discoverable then, effectively, you won’t exist

Learn more about unlocking your data on TheODI.org