IGSN Technical Documentation of the IGSN

IGSN Documentation

This wiki documents the organisation and technical aspects of the IGSN. General information about the IGSN and the IGSN Implementation Organization e.V. can be found at http://www.igsn.org.

  • Overview: What is the IGSN is and how does it work?
  • Organisation and Governance: How does the governance of IGSN work? What is the IGSN Implementation Organization e.V.?
  • Membership: Which organisations are members of IGSN e.V.?

IGSN and DataCite

In September 2021, IGSN and DataCite signed a Memorandum of Agreement between the two organisations towards a partnership that intends to support the global adoption, implementation, and use of physical sample identifiers. This collaboration is aligned with our respective missions and brings together the strengths of each organization for the benefit of the research community.

Under the partnership, DataCite will provide the IGSN ID registration services and supporting technology to enable the ongoing sustainability of the IGSN PID infrastructure. The IGSN e.V. will facilitate a Community of Communities to promote and support new research and innovation for standard methods of identifying, citing, and locating physical samples. The partnership allows IGSN to leverage DataCite DOI registration services and to focus community efforts on advocacy and expanding the global samples ecosystem.

Some key details about the partnership:

  • The IGSN ID will now transition to the DataCite infrastructure, services and APIs.
  • New and existing DataCite members will be able to adopt and start registering IGSN IDs within their existing DataCite workflows, using the IGSN Trademark.
  • IGSN Allocating Agents will join DataCite as either Direct Members or Consortium Members with Consortium Organizations.
  • Existing IGSN ID handles will now be registered IGSN ID DOIs and the handles aliased to the DOIs to ensure that these continue to resolve.
  • IGSN e.V. will continue to maintain and grow an international ‘Samples Community of Communities’ that use persistent identifiers for samples in order to enable cohesion around the use of IGSN.
  • The IGSN e.V. Community of Communities will provide a space to promote adoption of FAIR and CARE principles for Physical Samples.
  • The IGSN e.V. Partnership Steering Group (IGSN PSG) will oversee the relationship described in the partnership agreement.
  • DataCite will be responsible for hosting the technical infrastructure for IGSN ID registration services and the legacy IGSN handle system. During the initial two year transition period, we will be recruiting both a Samples Community Manager and Application Support Engineer to support the transition efforts, the new hires will be supported entirely by project funds for this period.


Please note! IGSN and DataCite have entered an agreement that will transfer the service of mining IGSN identifiers into the DataCite infrastructure. Many technical details outlined in this wiki will change after December 2021.

The IGSN is a persistent unique identifier for physical samples and specimens that eliminates the problems associated with the ambiguous naming of samples. Because of its origin from the geosciences, its original name was the Internationa Geo Sample Number. Since then the scope of IGSN has been expanded to any physical specimen.

The IGSN registration service will facilitate the discovery, access, and sharing of samples, ensure preservation and access of sample data, aid identification of samples in the literature, and advance the exchange of digital sample data among interoperable data systems, thus maximizing the utility of samples for research, education, and society.

  • Syntax: Guidelines for forming IGSN for registration.
  • Metadata: Metadata for registration of IGSN and for description of samples.
  • Namespaces: This is how we govern namespaces for IGSN. List of IGSN namespaces currently in use.

IGSN Technical Implementation

Please note! IGSN and DataCite have entered an agreement that will transfer the service of mining IGSN identifiers into the DataCite infrastructure. Many technical details outlined in this wiki will change after December 2021.

IGSN - International GeoSample Number Implementation Organization e.V.

The IGSN eV is an international non-profit organization that aims to implement and promote standard methods for locating, identifying, and citing physical samples collected from our natural environment, by operating an international registration service for the IGSN with a distributed, sustainable infrastructure for use by and benefit to its members.

  • Statutes of the IGSN Implementation Organization e.V. (IGSN e.V.)
  • Membership list and how to become a member of IGSN e.V.
  • Allocating Agents: Information about function and duties of IGSN Allocating Agents.
  • Minutes from meetings and telecons
  • Publications on IGSN and related literature

Membership in the IGSN e.V. is open to all organizations that wish to allocate IGSNs and use the Registration Agency of the IGSN e.V. in their capacity as Allocating Agents. Affiliate Membership with an advisory function is offered to organizations, who do not wish to use the IGSN eV Registration Agency as an allocating agent, but who have an interest in promoting and supporting the purposes of the IGSN e.V.



IGSN e.V. Management Office: info@igsn.org

Postal address:

c/o German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ
14473 Potsdam