ePIC Structure

Goal of ePIC

The assignment of ePIC is to set up and maintain a reliable joint service for registering, storing and resolving persistent identifiers based on handles for the research community.

The ePIC consortium has therefore enabling partner data centers to register PIDs in any number for the data objects and collections they store independent of their possible later use for publications. This registration in general will be done by automated procedures using an API that also allows adding relevant informations such as checksums, pointers to metadata, and rights information.
ePIC is open for any European center that stores scientific/research data.


ePIC currently consist of the following members:

CSC: IT Center for Science
DKRZ: Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum
GRNET: Greek Research and Technology Network
GWDG: Gesellschaft für wissenschaftliche Datenverarbeitung Göttingen
PDC KTH: Center for High-Performance Computing at the KTH
SURFsara: SURFsara is part of SURF, the collaborative ICT organization for higher education and research in the Netherlands

The management board of the consortium consists of representatives of the full members. The chair of the the management is voted always for year period and is currently

    Ulrich Schwardmann (GWDG)

Characteristics of ePIC

ePIC is setup as a highly reliable, persistent and high performance service. This is achieved through a network of strong data centers in Europe that share the same service, the same API and that have implemented a redundancy scheme. When one center is out of order the other centers will still resolve the PIDs. Currently five data centers share the service, but with the help of the European Union more strong data centers will join ePIC resulting in a broad European coverage. Registered PIDs will not be deleted as long as they are needed or the objects are accessible.

Governance and Costs

ePIC is controlled by its scientific user communities and organizations to ensure that it is devoted to the needs of the research community at large. This will also ensure that the overhead of the ePIC consortium will be small and restricted to essential services. Running the Handle Services based on tested software is not expensive, however, ePIC sees the need to establish help and support services that will require some funding. Currently funding is ensured, but in the future a low contribution for the members of ePIC will be required.

What PID for what Purpose?

The Persistent Identifiers for eResearch Consortium (ePIC ) is an identifier system using the Handle infrastructure. Its focus is the registration of data in an early state of the scientific process, where lots of data is generated and has to become referable to collaborate with other scientific groups or communities, but it is still unclear, which small part of the data should be availible for a long time period. Even in the case, that some data has to be cited, an ePIC PID is reliable, because its resolution is guaranteed.
Another identifier system using the Handle infrastructure widely used by the publishing industry for the persistent identification of journal articles and for tracking cross-linking through citations, is the Digital Object Identifier (DOI). If a later registration with a DOI is wanted for some reason, in most cases the PIDs can easily be transferred because the identifier systems use the same underlying handle software and similar database schemata.

Why is Identifier Resolution Important?

Resolution systems enable client software to go from an identifier to current state information about the identified object, such as where and how to access the object. Such identifiers can persist over changes to the identified object, such as changes in its location(s), ownership, and other attributes, persistence that is vital for maintaining data integrity over time.

What is the Handle System?

The Handle System is a general-purpose identifier resol­ution system that has been in place for many years. Identifiers in the Handle System are made up of a prefix and a suffix separated by a slash, e.g., 10.1594/ PANGAEA.667386 or 4263537/5030. The prefix is used by client software to find the specific servers within the widely distributed resolution system that will be able to resolve the identifier. Existing identifiers can be easily structured as handles in order to take advantage of the resolution system.

Who Manages the Handle System?

CNRI designed, implemented, and currently administers the root level of the system, but the bulk of the resolution services are managed by the thousands of organizations, communities, government agencies, and businesses around the world currently using the system on a daily basis. This includes many academic and national libraries, scholarly journal publishers, scientific institutes, and other information management groups. CNRI is working with other major user groups, including ePIC and DataCite to create DONA (Digital Object Numbering Authority) to manage the Handle System into the future. The new organization will be governed by the DONA Board, which will include experts and stakeholders from around the world.