EPIC was founded in 2009 by a consortium of European partners in order to provide PID services for the European Research Community, based on the handle system (TM, http://www.handle.net/ ), for the allocation and resolution of persistent identifiers. The consortium signed a Memorandum of Understanding aiming to provide long term reliability for the PID services

The purpose of persistent identifiers (PID)

In all areas of science the amount of stored data grows rapidly and more and more relations between these data and other resources become essential for science as for instance references to scientific publications. It turns out that scientific institutions need to develop a strategy for the long term preservation of their scientific resources, in order to ensure its long-lasting accessibility.

In the scientific community it is therefore increasingly necessary that the resources are registered in well-kept repositories with a content, that is never changing and which can be referenced and cited this way. Furthermore these references themself have to be stabil whereas the underlying repositories are more like “living organisms” with an often migration on various levels like changes in hardware, software, physical place or format. Because of these alterations the currently often used URLs with their physical pathes and semantical contents, which are frequently outdated after couple of years, are not suitable any more.

Science needs new methods to reference the primary and secondary scientific data in order to name these data in a unique and timeless way like the ISBN numbers for books, which are permanent and citeable references to the related books. For the resolution of such unique and persistent identifiers (PID) one needs a commonly agreed process and due to the importance of the resolution of the references to actual URLs for a lot of transactions, the needed resolution service has to have a high degree of robustness and reliability in the long-term.